"Millennials Are Really Stepping Up For Their Aging Parents"

Forbes.com

Posted April 7, 2020 by Mark Perna

A new survey reveals how these young, newly minted caregivers are generously tending to mom and dad. Mark’s article, “Millennials Are Really Stepping Up For Their Aging Parents,” published at Forbes.com on April 7, 2020.

More than ever, Millennials are joining the ranks of earlier generations in caring for their aging or ailing parents. According to a new survey of 991 Millennials by Caring Advisor, roughly half are already actively taking care of their parents, while the others are currently in the planning phase.

So how is this supposedly “lazy” and “narcissistic” generation coping with this new, bittersweet responsibility?

Remarkably well, actually.

More than ever, Millennials are joining the ranks of earlier generations in caring for their aging or ailing parents. Click To Tweet

Millennials were the first generation to experience “helicopter parenting,” which according to author and licensed psychologist Ann Dunnewold, can be defined as simply “over-parenting.” While much has been written for and against helicopter parenting, it does appear to hold some benefits as parents enter old age. For instance, Millennials seem to have a clearer picture of what’s needed as their parents get older. And, better yet, they’re really stepping up.

That does, however, come with a price tag.

Dollars and cents

The Caring Advisor survey reveals that a third of Millennials are already planning financially to take care of their aging parents and that, on average, they’ve saved about $3,100. But, by any measure, that amount isn’t nearly enough. Similarly, of those Millennials, nearly 1 in 3 say they would likely want to get an additional job when the time comes.

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Additionally, of the Millennials who have yet to begin taking care of their parents, 14% think they will seek out an assisted living facility for their mom and dad when the time comes. Ultimately, however, only 1.5% actually did so—likely due to prohibitive costs, as almost 63% eventually chose a far less expensive option: moving back in with their parents. Notably, though, many had once wanted their parents to move in with them, but wound up feeling that their home simply wasn’t big enough for one or two new “roommates.”

Emotional costs

The cost of caring for aging or ailing parents can’t be measured in dollars and cents alone. There’s also the emotional toll. Among Millennials, however, there are some significant differences between men and women—many skewed toward stereotypical gender roles. Specifically, women are more than twice as likely to report being “extremely stressed” about taking care of their parents. In addition, they are much more likely to express care for their parents by regularly performing household tasks, such as cooking, cleaning and doing laundry. Men, on the other hand, regard spending quality time each week with their parents as a form of care, along with errands like picking up their medications and taking them shopping.

Another emotional cost is the rifts that taking care of mom and dad can cause in other relationships. Of those Millennials already caring for their parents, more than 40% report arguing with their spouse or partner in the process, compared to only 17% of those who are just in the planning phase. One bright spot is that well over half of Millennials say that their partner is very supportive of their efforts to care for their parents.

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And, now, the COVID-19 pandemic

For Millennials, learning to parent their parents is challenging under the best of circumstances. But, now, inject COVID-19—potentially a once-in-a-century pathogen—into the mix, and they’re looking at a whole new ball game. Many are lamenting the determination of their parents—mostly Boomers—to continue normal life and activities, including in the case of one at-risk 62-year-old dad, insisting on attending an Allman Brothers concert.

Apparently, a lot of Boomers—yes, even those at highest risk—are convinced that, despite their age or health condition, they won’t be vulnerable to the virus’s most severe and life-threatening effects. And no doubt for their Millennial kids, in their newly minted role as parental caregiver, this only requires more diligence and care.

Finally, as the Caring Advisor survey reveals, while Millennials may be showing their naïveté and inexperience in caring for their aging or ailing parents, they are also showcasing their tremendous willingness and generosity. And before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic, that is something to be applauded by all generations.

Read at Forbes.com


About The Author
Mark Perna
Mark C. Perna is an international speaker and bestselling author. He also serves as CEO of TFS Results, a strategic consulting firm at the forefront of the national paradigm shift in education and workforce development.
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