Days, dollars and distance: the story of Boomers on Call

    
    Boomers providing help to aging parents devote 42 hours and travel 225 km
    each month, four-in-ten pay $498 in monthly support, Investors Group poll
    reveals
    

WINNIPEG, Oct. 19 /CNW/ - Call it being a caregiver, parenting your parents, or just being 'on call'. A new Investors Group poll reveals that Canada's baby boomers are devoting their time, their money and racking up their mileage to help their aging parents with everything from a drive to the doctor's office to making financial and health decisions. And few boomers show signs of resenting the caregiving role.

According to a national survey of Canadians 43 to 63 years of age, 69 per cent still have at least one living parent or parent-in-law. Among this group, one-third (35 per cent) report they are providing care in one form or another for aging parents. Specifically, these caregiving boomers are travelling a monthly average of 225 km and devoting the equivalent of a work week (42 hours) each month to provide support on a variety of fronts. In addition to these commitments, four-in-ten (39 per cent) caregivers are also providing financial assistance to their parents. The price tag: an average of $498 per month.

"Taking care of your parents is nothing new, but we are definitely seeing its effect on boomers' resources as they approach retirement," said Jane Olshewski, Manager, Financial Life Planning at Investors Group. "As this group and their parents grow older, more and more boomers will need to learn how to cope with these duties."

It's not about the money

Although some caregiving boomers are spending an average of nearly $6,000 per year on their parents, financial support is only one aspect of the mixed bag of responsibilities that boomers have taken on to support their parents. According to the poll, everyday activities such as companionship (65 per cent), transportation to appointments or social events (64 per cent), home maintenance (56 per cent) and household chores (55 per cent) mingle with weightier matters like help with their parents' banking and investment activities or financial decision-making (61 per cent) and ensuring that their health-care needs are met (55 per cent).

Time-crunch

Only one-in-ten (9 per cent) caregivers identify their financial commitments to their parents as a source of stress. In fact, nearly half (46 per cent) say it makes them feel very good to provide this support and two-thirds (66 per cent) feel like they're repaying their parents for the time and effort that went into their own upbringing.

Instead of a money crunch, the poll found that caregiving boomers consider the demands on their time and emotional resources to be more stressful. Six-in-ten (62 per cent) caregivers believe that their parents expect this type of assistance, and the majority (51 per cent) of caregivers say that their parents' emotional demands are a source of stress. Four-in-ten (40 per cent) identify their parents' demands on their time as a strain, which may not be surprising since a third (32 per cent) of caregivers say their responsibilities result in lost time at work.

Among those providing help to their parents, roughly a third (31 per cent) are also parents themselves. Four-in-ten (42 per cent) of these 'sandwich' boomers describe these combined duties as a source of additional stress.

"Our research shows that boomers don't mind making these sacrifices, but many people may not be prepared for the volume or the emotional weight of these responsibilities," said Olshewski.

It's all worth it

Despite giving up a portion of their incomes, emotional energy and personal and work time, the poll shows that to most caregiving boomers, the benefits of being on call have proved invaluable.

More than half (56 per cent) of caregiving boomers agree that their relationships with their parents have improved and their connection as a family has strengthened as a result of their responsibilities. Six-in-ten (60 per cent) say they spend more quality time together than they would have otherwise.

It takes a village

To cope with these challenges, the poll found that boomers are finding support in their own networks. Only one-in-five (22 per cent) caregivers are going it alone, while nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) share the load with their spouses, siblings or other family members.

Surprisingly, few respondents indicated any negative impact on their relationships with their spouses (24 per cent), siblings (17 per cent), children (15 per cent) or other family members (8 per cent).

Interestingly, the poll reveals that while women are more likely to provide help to their parents, they're not shouldering the entire load. Of those boomers assisting their parents, 46 per cent of caregivers are men and 54 per cent are women - suggesting that men and women are taking on near-equal responsibilities.

"Caring for your parents appears to be a trade-off - you're giving, but you're also getting back," said Olshewski. "At the same time, it's important to try for a sense of balance, so that you're not sacrificing your own priorities in the long term."

About the Survey Methodology: A total of 500 surveys were completed with Canadian adults aged 43 to 63 from September 23 to October 3 2009. In a fashion similar to a telephone study, email addresses from the Harris/Decima panel were pulled at random. When contacted to solicit participation, participants had no prior knowledge of the subject matter of the study.

Investors Group, founded in 1926, is a national leader in delivering personalized financial solutions to Canadians through a network of approximately 4,600 Consultants located throughout Canada. In addition to an exclusive family of mutual funds and other investment vehicles, Investors Group offers a wide range of insurance, securities, mortgage and other financial services. Investors Group is a member of the IGM Financial Inc. (TSX: IGM) group of companies. IGM Financial is one of Canada's premier financial services companies with $118 billion in total assets under management.

SOURCE Investors Group Inc.

For further information: For further information: Ron Arnst, Investors Group, (204) 956-3364, ron.arnst@investorsgroup.com; Meredith Adolph or Lisa Mills, Environics Communications, (416) 969-2667, (416) 969-2831, madolph@environicspr.com, lmills@environicspr.com

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