Canadian parents who also provide support to their own parents are in better physical, psychological and financial health than the average Canadian. But these members of the “Sandwich Generation” are also concerned about the impact that the eldercare is having on many aspects of their lives, according to the most recent health survey conducted by Desjardins Financial Security.

The majority of the survey respondents feel their physical, mental and financial health is excellent, very good or good. Within this same group, the demographic who live with children and provide daily assistance to their parents rated themselves even higher: 92% said their physical health was excellent, very good or good compared to 83.8% in Canada; 94.2% said their psychological health was excellent, very good or good compared to 88.7%; and 70.2% said their personal financial security was excellent, very good or good compared to 57.2% overall.

“The Sandwich Generation seems ready to deal with the challenges of supporting both parents and children simultaneously,” says Nathalie Tremblay, health products manager at DFS. “But they know that this is going to affect their lives in many different ways.”

The survey results indicate that people who provide daily support to their parents totally or somewhat agree that this assistance impacts: their mental health (67.3%); yhe well-being of their family (62.4%); yheir physical health (60.1%); and their professional life (58.2%).

Boomers plan to rely heavily on health care system

Another survey conducted by DFS this spring indicated that 58.4% of Canadians identified government-funded home care as one of the three most important resources to help them assist their parents in their daily activities.

“This is an alarming statistic,” says Bart Mindszenthy, co-author of the best seller Parenting Your Parents and expert in elderly family caregiving. “It’s my feeling that the health care system simply can’t effectively cope with the number of people requiring care as our population ages.”

This reliance on the health care system is even more pronounced among Canadians already trying to balance the needs of children and elderly parents in the more recent health survey. While 59.1% of Canadians were confident that their parents would have easy access to publicly-funded home care in the case of a critical illness, that figure rose to 68.2 for those living with children and also providing daily support to their parents.

The survey also found that only 18.9% of respondents have worked with their parents to develop a plan for ongoing care. Although many of the Sandwich Generation clearly understand the need for a plan, 52.6% of people who live with children and provide daily assistance to parents don’t have one in place. “This result is not surprising — it’s a difficult conversation to have,” says Tremblay. “Nonetheless, it’s a reality that we do need to face, however difficult. A little planning can dramatically change the conditions in which our parents live.”

SOM Surveys, Opinion Polls and Marketing conducted this

The web survey was conducted on behalf of Desjardins Financial Security from August 10 to 23, 2011 by SOM Surveys, Opinion Polls and Marketing. In total, 3,120 questionnaires were completed with a sample of Canadian Web panellists aged 18 to 64 years old.