We might be told that we are an every person for herself society but there’s compelling data illustrating why kids and grandkids should be as invested in Medicare and Social Security as older adults and people with disabilities. In short, we’re all in it together. A 2013 poll by The Pew Research Center reveals that almost half of all adults in their forties and fifties have both parents over 65 and children they are caring for. Care comes in many forms, including financial and emotional support, as well as handling affairs.
Almost one in seven adults (15 percent) are financially supporting both parents and children. Almost one third of those with a living parent over 65, (32 percent) have financially supported a parent in the last year. And, of these adults with a living parent over 65, more than seven in 10 (72 percent), are providing ongoing financial support to a parent.
Just under four in 10 middle-aged adults (38 percent) say they are providing emotional support to both parents and children. Moreover, three in ten with a parent say their parents need help handling their affairs; about half of these middle-aged adults provide some of that help.
Understandably, as adults grow older, their parents’ needs increase. More than half of adults over 60 with a parent still living say their parent needs help with daily activities. Three quarters of them with a parent over 80 said that their parents rely on them for emotional support, if not often then sometimes.
This all said, more middle-aged adults are providing support to a grown child, 25 or older, than to a parent. Of those with grown children, more than 73 percent said they had provided some financial support to their grown child in the last year.
Also noteworthy: In a 2011 survey, Pew found that 44 percent of older adults, 65 or older, said that they had given financial assistance to a grown child in the past year.
Given the dependencies of the generations upon one another, it’s time we start thinking about Medicare and Social Security as programs that serve everyone in America.