Managing the financial challenges of supporting aging parents and raising children

June 12, 2023

There is a portion of Namibia’s population that is more financially and emotionally stressed than the rest and goes unnoticed by most. A Savings and Investment survey done by Old Mutual two years ago, indicated that 63% of Namibians are “sandwiched” between two generations who rely on them financially.

What is the Sandwich Generation?

The sandwich generation refers to individuals who are responsible for providing financial support to both their aging parents and their own children, at the same time.

This group of people, typically in their 40s and 50s, can often feel "sandwiched" between two generations, as they are responsible for supporting their elderly parents while also raising their kids on a limited budget.

The median age in Namibia is around 22 years, which means that a large portion of the population are dependents under the age of 22. At the same time, the life expectancy in the country is around 63 years old, which means many Namibians are living longer. A significant portion of these elderly people are requiring more financial support from their children, as is highlighted by the latest Namibian Household Income and Expenditure Survey (NHIES).

According to that report, 28% of Namibians live in multigenerational households. This means that almost one in three Namibians are part of a sandwiched household. No family is perfect but, in many instances, these homes are already strained by other social ills, only has one breadwinner or there are no financial mentors available in their immediate family or community.

Financial and Emotional Implications on the Sandwich Generation

The financial implications on the sandwich generation are significant and can be overwhelming. Supporting aging parents can be costly, with expenses ranging from healthcare to the daily living expenses. On the other hand, supporting children through their education and other expenses can also place a big strain on finances.

As a result, many of these individuals barely have enough financial resource left to build their own wealth, compared to those without caregiving responsibilities. They also tend to have higher levels of debt, which can impact their ability to save for their own retirement. This is worsening with the drastic increases in the cost of living in Namibia in recent years.

The emotional toll of being part of this generation cannot be ignored either. Balancing the needs of aging parents with the demands of raising children can create feelings of guilt, stress, resentment, and burnout.

This can lead to increased anxiety and depression, which can further impact their financial, personal well- being, as well as their productivity at work.

Helping the Sandwich Generation Cope and Thrive

The one thing that will always turn a challenging situation into a bad one is the lack of a plan. It is essential for individuals in the sandwich generation to seek support and resources to help manage their finances. For example, seeking out a registered financial adviser can help create a long-term financial plan that considers the needs of both the elderly parents and children.

Your financial plan can include financial instruments such as retirement funds, life insurance, medical aid, education policies and more, can ensure you have the means to support your loved ones. This type of planning will also ensure that members of the sandwich generation do not pass on the same burdens to their children when they grow old.

An important aspect of managing the emotional stress is deliberate self-care. It is essential to take time for oneself to recharge and manage stress levels. This can include developing positive habits such as exercise or seeking the professional help.

Insurance companies are committed to helping individuals navigate their financial journeys through different programmes aimed at providing individuals with financial

 literacy. They tend to offer a range of financial services that can help individuals manage their unique situation.

*Mauriza Fredericks is Group Brand Manager of Old Mutual Namibia



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Last modified on Tuesday, 13 June 2023 23:15

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