These days you can’t go too long without hearing about “millennials” – roughly speaking, the generation of those born between 1982 and 2000 – and when it comes to issues surrounding long-term care, the situation, perhaps surprisingly, is no different.
Each generation has had to deal with its own long-term care challenges. For the past few decades, Baby Boomers have been labeled as the “sandwich generation” when it comes to caregiving – with many caring for their parents while also taking care of their own children and figuring out how to prepare for their own potential care needs.
Recent trends suggest that millennials may soon be deserving of the “sandwich generation” moniker as well. With chronic disease on the rise, as well as better and earlier detection of such diseases, the average age of care recipients is getting lower – now down to 66 years old1. As a result, millennials are increasingly being thrust into caregiving roles and their representation among the nation’s caregivers is growing. Today, about one out of every four of the nation’s 40 million family caregivers is a millennial2.
At the same time, as millennials become more conscious about retirement planning, they are looking for ways to prepare themselves for their own potential need for long-term care3. The issues that Baby Boomers are dealing with regarding the shortfall in retiree income and savings often rear their head during care coordination experiences1. Observing this, millennials are beginning to understand the impact that a long-term care situation can have on even a seemingly well-planned retirement.
One fact that millennials are acutely aware of is how the lack of funding of long-term care costs is a problem that’s been steadily on the rise and soon could be heading towards a crisis point. Just one in 10 millennials say they are very confident that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will provide the same level of benefits they do now by the time they need them4.
Even though their outlook on current programs is somewhat bleak, there is a sense of awareness about potential solutions. The percentage of millennials who want to see a government-administered LTCi program is around 60%, and 81% said employers should offer LTCi as a benefit4. Given that 73% of millennial caregivers work and that caregivers pay an average of $6,800/year in out-of-pocket caregiving expenses2, many also support paid family leave for caregiving1. These proposed solutions are not simply wishful thinking, but rather realistic changes that are well within reach – Washington State may soon approve the nation’s first government-administered LTCi program, and many other states are looking into similar solutions of their own5.
Millennials should see the position they are in not as a burden, but as an opportunity for progress. They are in a unique situation in which they can observe first-hand what needs to be addressed and leverage their experiences into a collective effort for change. A common criticism of millennials is that they want it all but aren’t necessarily willing to put in the work. With time on their side, millennials have the power to implement changes that could alter the situation entirely by the time it affects them personally. Like other threats facing our future, this issue requires coordinated action, and the best time to act is now.
– Andrew Armida, Director, Logistics at ARM – also a millennial
- “Why more millennials are becoming caregivers”, PBS News Hour, 2018
- “Millennials: The Emerging Generation of Family Caregivers”, AARP Public Policy Institute, 2018
- “What Millennials Really Want to Know About Caregiving for Their Parents”, Forbes, 2018
- “Younger Adults’ Experiences and Views on Long-Term Care”, AP-NORC, 2018
- “Is Washington State About to Okay Public Long-Term Care Insurance”, Forbes, 2019