Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Language of Aging is, well, Old and Dated

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The words that describe our life after fifty just don’t work anymore.  Some of them haven’t for a while. 

 We’ve been searching for years for a word to replace “seniors.”  Research tells us boomers hate that word.  We haven’t really come up with a better one.

 Retirement – boy has this one changed in just the past year.  For many of us the prospect of stopping work is fading.  The reality is that we’ll keep working, maybe part-time, maybe a whole new career, maybe an encore career.  But we still talk about retirement planning because – well – what else do you call this new stage of life?

 Caregiver is another word that most of admit they don’t identify with, yet they are providing support – physical, emotional and/or financial – to another.  I helped by parents with a variety of things for over 11 years after my father’s stroke, but never thought of myself as a caregiver.

 Sandwich generation is a common phrase, and one that this blog covers, to cover those caught in the middle of aging parents and adult children.  But it’s really so much more complex and messy than that.  Sandwich implies a nice orderly, stacked sense of responsibility and just one up and one down.  But we know the pressures to assist come from all angles – parents, adult children, aunts and uncles, grandchildren, brothers and sisters, ex-spouses, ex-in-laws and I’m sure you ca add a few.  Ken Dhytwald recently released research– The Retirement Tipping Point — with Harris International that likened family responsibilities to a Rubik’s cube.  I like the image, but it suggests there is a solution – if you’re in the middle, you know solving one issue just leaves you to tackle others. What’s the right image? I think it’s more like Gumby being pulled and stretched in lots of different directions. But that’s not quite right either. 

Aging in Place – I love the concept and absolutely hate the term.  it sounds so sedentary.  And does anybody really think about staying in their home in those terms.  

 Why does it matter? As we search for information to help ourselves make it through these new lifestages, we search the web.  We “Google” it.  We use key words.  The terms we use are important because they get us to the information that can help us most.  Information providers “bucket” their information and products by these keywords.

 It’s why we end up searching on “senior discounts” when at 50 all we’re trying to do is find a deal and would curse you if you called us a senior.  Or we search on retirement planning when our plan is to work until we drop, but know we really do need to have a plan in place in case we can’t.

 The words just don’t fit in our networked, stressed and changing society.  Any suggestions?

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Written by Laura Rossman

June 10, 2009 at 12:50 pm

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