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Sandwich Generation

Real Estate Agent with TheMLSonline.com

A mere 6 years ago, both my children were still in elementary school, my parents and in-laws were all alive and still actively working and the future seemed to stretch ahead endlessly.  Fast forward to the present and my son is about to graduate from high school (in 4 months he will be hundreds of miles away at college), my in laws both have suffered the infirmities of aging, my father has passed away and my mother, as I write, lies in ICU fighting for her life.

With our busy, active lifestyles we do not notice time slipping by...until the changes are suddenly thrown upon us.  A few years ago, I helped the parents of a friend of mine to purchase a retirement home closer to her and her family.  While at the time purchasing a 2nd home at a 55 plus community was a difficult decision for them to make (who wants to admit getting older, after all?) today they are greatful that they made that decision.  It has given them time to transition to a new era in their lives and has also provided them with an opportunity to be closer to their children and grandchild.  As the time approaches when they will not be as mobile as they are today, they also recognise that their second home might become their primary residence in a few years.  It will be good for them to be closer to family & to be able to get assistance, if needed, while keeping some independence.

For me, my mother is thousands of miles away in a completely different country.  Flying to her from the west coast means a 23 hour flight (not mentioning the waiting time at airports.)  If there is a crisis, the quickest I can expect to be there is within 2 days.  My family in the Seattle area also needs me and I am torn between caring for my family and caring for my aging parent...and there are no easy solutions or answers.  I cannot I go back to our lives 6 years ago, but so wish that time could be reversed! If it was poosible,  I would've had a conversation with my parents about purchasing a home closer to mine or my sister's.   What a difference it would've made to my present situation! 

To put it bluntly, it really sucks being stuck in the sandwich generation.  With the baby boomer generation -- of which I am at the tail end-- aging, the best advice I can give anyone  is that if you are part of the growing aging population, try to move closer to family if you can possibly do so (or want to do so!)...even if it is a second home that you will be occupying for only part of the year.  Personally, that is what I plan to do sometime in the future.  I do not want to repeat the mistakes of past decisions!   

Comments (3)

Ross Therrien
Prudential Verani Realty, Londonderry,New Hampshire - Londonderry, NH
Realtor, Broker Associate

More and more of us will be experiencing the effects of the sandwich generation.  With todays medicine they can keep people alive much longer"physically" however when the mind goes the whole picture changes.  Alot of people are looking for housing that will accommodate extended family. Timing is perfect for 55+ to purchase in a 55 community.  We have alot of new units available that builders whould love to sell---very affordable.  Your doing the right thing thinking far in advance.  My mom wouldn't hear of it.  Then it was to late.

Apr 19, 2010 08:56 AM
Craig Richardson
National Realty - McLean, VA

Hilde, these are challening times for those of us in this generation, no question about it.  And no one factored in the economic mess were in either.

Apr 19, 2010 08:58 AM
Michael A. Caruso
Surterre Properties - Laguna Niguel, CA

Ross I agree. I finally got my father into Leisure World a few years back and my inlaws moved into a 55+ community last month much closer to us. It has made a world of difference

Apr 19, 2010 02:44 PM