There may be glimmers of an economic recovery, but for many families ravaged by unemployment, a secure income and a middle class lifestyle are lost for the foreseeable future. Families are increasingly turning to one another for financial help. A new survey, Baby Boomer Moms Keep Supporting Grown Kids completed last month confirms trends that many of us in human services have seen for awhile.
As the leading edge of the baby boomers turn 65 this year, we need to think about how policies that impact the income of older adults will affect dependent family members. Older adults are key familial supports for their grown children and grandchildren, particularly in these hard economic times. Last year the Pew Research Center released several recent reports that highlight the return to multi-generational housing and the rise of grandparents taking care of grandchildren.
It may be that Michigan is once again the canary in the economic coal mine. At Elder Law of Michigan we are seeing more families calling us with financial concerns because they are the primary financial support for multiple generations. The duration of the recession may mean that affected families have very little cushion for the things that come up in life like car repairs, medical expenses, home repairs, and rising gas prices.The Michigan Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index shows that a single elder renter needs $19,058 a year to make ends meet. The many elders do not have enough income to meet their basic expenses for food, housing, medical care and transportation in retirement. Despite their hard times, they are doing something that has been true since the beginning of civilization—they will use whatever they have to support their children and grandchildren.
Preserving Social Security and Medicare for the grandparents, including all us future grandparents is critically important to ensure that multi-generational families survive the recession and claw their way back to the middle class.