Video: Kids, parents leave boomers in middle

By Rehema Ellis Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/24/2006 7:27:46 PM ET 2006-01-25T00:27:46

Many baby boomers are finding themselves caught in a squeeze: They’re taking care of elderly parents while raising children or grandchildren. It’s what’s called the “sandwich generation.” 

The Westmiller family, in a financial squeeze, is part of the sandwich generation. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and a struggle for them to meet the financial demands of caring for her elderly parents while still raising their two college-age daughters. “Everything is an emergency, and we have to watch every penny,” says Robin Cohen Westmiller.

A recent Pew research study found 13 percent of Americans age 41-59 are caught between the responsibilities of taking care of their children and aging parents at the same time.

Experts say families need to create a budget and stick to it. “You have to see where the money is coming from and where it is going to as well,” says financial planner Shashin Shah.

Then priorities, experts say, are putting money toward retirement, college education and then grandparents. And no matter what to keep the retirement accounts intact. “What’s failed to be realized is that that money cannot be replaced once it’s gone,” emphasizes Shah.

Carol Abaya, who started a Web site after she was left to care for her own parents, says students should take out loans for college. Keeping grandparents in their own home can also generate income by using something called a “reverse mortgage.”

“The bank pays you each month against the value of the house,” explains Abaya. “It then relieves the sandwich generation of having to put out from their own pocket.”

Robin and Bill Westmiller now talk more about the future. They’re mapping out their plans so their kids won’t have to.

Robin Westmiller is optimistic: “Hopefully, for the next sandwiched group, they’ll have a better deli.”

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