Sandwich generation healthy, wealthy…and worried

By Staff | October 11, 2011 | Last updated on October 11, 2011
2 min read

Canadian parents who also provide support to their own parents are in better physical, psychological and financial health than the average Canadian. But these members of the sandwich generation are also concerned about the impact that eldercare is having on their own lives, according to a recent health survey by Desjardins Financial Security.

The majority of survey respondents rated their physical, mental and financial health as excellent, very good or good. Within this same group, those who live with children and provide daily assistance to their parents rated themselves even higher:

  • 92% rated their physical health as excellent, very good or good, compared with 83.8% overall in Canada;
  • 94.2% rated their psychological health as excellent, very good or good, compared with 88.7% overall in Canada; and
  • 70.2% rated their personal financial security as excellent, very good or good, compared with 57.2% overall.

“The sandwich generation seems ready to deal with the challenges of supporting both parents and children simultaneously,” said Nathalie Tremblay, health products manager at Desjardins. “But they know that this is going to affect their lives in many different ways.”

The survey results indicate that people who provide daily support to their parents feel this assistance impacts the following:

  • their mental health (67.3%);
  • the well-being of their family (62.4%);
  • their physical health (60.1%); and
  • their professional life (58.2%).

Reliance on the healthcare system A separate survey conducted by Desjardins earlier this year indicated that 58.4% of Canadians identify government-funded home care as one of the three most important resources to help them assist their parents.

“This is an alarming statistic,” said Bart Mindszenthy, co-author of Parenting Your Parents. “It’s my feeling that the healthcare system simply can’t effectively cope with the number of people requiring care as our population ages.”

This reliance on the healthcare system is even more pronounced among Canadians already trying to balance the needs of children and elderly parents. In the more recent health survey, 59.1% of Canadians were confident that their parents would have easy access to publicly funded home care in the case of a critical illness, but that figure rose to 68.2% for those living with children and also providing daily support to their parents.

Creating a plan The survey found that only 18.9% of respondents have worked with their parents to develop a plan for ongoing care. Although many within the sandwich generation clearly understand the need for a plan, 52.6% of people who live with children and provide daily assistance to parents don’t have one in place.

“This result is not surprising—it’s a difficult conversation to have,” said Tremblay. “Nonetheless, it’s a reality that we do need to face, however difficult. A little planning can dramatically change the conditions in which our parents live.”

Mindszenthy agrees. “We can’t assume that publicly funded healthcare will have the resources needed to keep aging loved ones safe and comfortable. In fact, we must plan for how we’re going to actively support the needs of our parents as they age.” staff


The staff of have been covering news for financial advisors since 1998.