According to recent information released by Statistics Canada, in 2012 about 8.1 million Canadians aged 15 or older were caring for a family member who was aging, chronically ill or disabled, and just over half of these caregivers were providing care to parents or parents-in-law.1 What’s more, 44 per cent of these caregivers were between the ages of 45 and 64.2

Many of these Canadians are part of what’s been dubbed the sandwich generation: individuals sandwiched between caring for aging parents, caring for their own children and working. And with today’s aging population, the number of Canadians caught in the squeeze is likely to grow.3

Sandwiched individuals may face particular challenges, with financial challenges being an important one. For some caregivers, financial expenses associated with caregiving—transportation and housing, for example—can have a significant impact. In 2012, seven per cent of caregivers aged 15 or older caring for a parent reported financial hardship because of these responsibilities.4 For Canadians aged 45 to 64 in the sandwich generation, instead of planning their own retirement, it could mean taking on additional financial responsibilities that can delay or jeopardize their retirement plans.

This is where financial advice becomes even more important.

Helping your sandwiched clients continue saving for retirement and have the right investments in place are essential. Are your sandwiched clients dipping into their savings to cover care costs? Have they looked at all options to finance their children’s education? Are they worried about outliving their savings in retirement?

Ensuring their savings are properly protected is also crucial. The latest results from the Canadian Health Index show that Canadians aged 45 to 54 are the hardest hit by unexpected healthcare costs, with 53 per cent reporting they’re struggling to make ends meet after a serious health incident.5

The sandwich generation has “a unique set of priorities that includes caring for their children and their parents while working and saving for their own retirement. This explains why they’re more deeply affected by unplanned healthcare costs,” Alison Griffiths, financial columnist and commentator, says.

“With job instability and a tough economic climate, many are stretched too thin. A large portion of sandwichers are nearing retirement, but may be forced to delay these plans to recoup financial losses.”

Canadians who work with an advisor or have a written plan are much more satisfied with what they are saving for retirement than those who don’t.6 Being aware that more and more of your clients, or potential clients, may be caught in the sandwich generation allows you to start meaningful conversations with them about their challenges, and helps you provide them with the advice they need to help them reach their retirement goals.

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1 Sinha, Maire, “Portrait of caregivers, 2012,” Spotlight on Canadians: Results from the General Social Survey. No.1. September. Statistics Canada Catalogue no.89-652-X (2013).

2 Statistics Canada, “Caregivers in Canada,2012,” The Daily (September 10, 2013).

3 Williams, Cara, “The sandwich generation,” Perspectives on Labour and Income. Vol.5, no.9. September. Statistics Canada Catalogue no.75-001-X (2004).

4 Turcotte, Martin, “Family caregivers: What are the consequences?” Insights on Canadian Society. September. Statistics Canada Catalogue no.75-006-X (2013).

5 Sun Life Financial, Canadian Health Index™, 2013.

6 Sun Life Financial, Canadian Unretirement™ Index, 2013.