Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sandwich Generation healthier, wealthier but worried

Relying heavily on public care for parents and concerned about impact on their own lives

TORONTO, October 5, 2011 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - 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 the eldercare is having on many aspects of their lives, according to the most recent health survey conducted by Desjardins Financial Security (DFS).

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

...92 percent said their physical health was excellent, very good or good compared to 83.8 percent in Canada;

...94.2 percent said their psychological health was excellent, very good or good compared to 88.7 percent;

...70.2 percent said their personal financial security was excellent, very good or good compared to 57.2 percent overall.

"The Sandwich Generation seems ready to deal with the challenges of supporting both parents and children simultaneously," says Nathalie Tremblay, health products manager at Desjardins Financial Security. "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 totally or somewhat agree that this assistance impacts:

...Their mental health (67.3 percent)

...The well-being of their family (62.4 percent)

...Their physical health (60.1 percent)

...Their professional life (58.2 percent)

Sandwich Generation plan to rely heavily on health care system

Another survey conducted by DFS this spring indicated that 58.4 percent of Canadians identified government-funded home care as one of the three most important resources to help them assist their parents in their daily activities.

"This is an alarming statistic," says Bart Mindszenthy, co-author of the best seller Parenting Your Parents and expert in elderly family caregiving. "It's my feeling that the health care system simply can't effectively cope with the number of people requiring care as our population ages."

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

Creating a plan

The survey also found that only 18.9 percent of respondents have worked with their parents to develop a plan for ongoing care. Although many of the Sandwich Generation clearly understand the need for a plan, 52.6 percent 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," says 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 health care 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."

About the Survey

SOM Surveys, Opinion Polls and Marketing conducted this Web survey on behalf of Desjardins Financial Security from August 10 to 23, 2011. In total, 3,120 questionnaires were completed with a sample of Canadian Web panellists aged 18 to 64 years old. The data was weighted to reflect the distribution of the Canadian population aged 18 to 64 years old in terms of gender and mother tongue distributions in 14 regions (Atlantic Provinces, Montreal CMA and elsewhere in Quebec, Toronto CMA and elsewhere in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Calgary CMA and elsewhere in Alberta, Vancouver CMA and elsewhere in British Columbia). The data was also weighted to reflect the population distributions in terms of the joint age-gender distribution and the proportion of adults who live alone in Quebec, Ontario and elsewhere in Canada.

About Desjardins Financial Security

Desjardins Financial Security, a subsidiary of Desjardins Group, the leading cooperative financial group in Canada, specializes in providing life insurance, health insurance and retirement savings products to individuals and groups. Every day over five million Canadians rely on DFS to ensure their financial security. DFS employs over 4,000 people and administers 27.4 billion in assets from offices in several cities across the country including Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Lévis, Halifax and St. John's. For more information, visit the website at

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