The Inner Workings of Family Generosity and Community Residents

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There’s a significant chance that residents of your retirement homes community may be receiving financial help from family members. Or, conversely, there’s a chance that they may be providing financial aid to their adult children, grandchildren, siblings and other relatives.

A recent study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave details Boomers' (age 47 to 67) generosity toward family member, especially in times of difficulty during the past five years. The report highlights giving that runs throughout our culture, and the importance that family members place on assisting families in challenging times. Two-thirds of parents 50-plus and older provide some form of financial help to adult children.

On average, these financial gifts over five years were nearly $15,000 – and often significantly more – among the country’s well-off families. The gifting may have been used for a one-time need or assistance on an on-going basis. Usually, the study respondents said it was given without expecting anything in return.

Generosity is not new to Boomers and older adults. Both are the most important givers to nonprofit organizations. Many nonprofit senior housing and senior care organizations depend on older people. Wills and other planned giving options are available from a number of retirement communities. It is in the Boomers DNA to be cause-oriented and to help others they feel are disadvantaged.

Generally, the person most likely to turn for financial help is one who is most financially responsible, has the most money, or is the easiest to approach. People age 50 and over are more likely to say they are doing it because it is the right thing to do.

Sometimes, inheritance figures into their financial gift-giving. Almost 60% of respondents to the study said they would prefer to begin passing on their assets during retirement rather than waiting until they die.

On top of these interdependence issues, the typical family is changing, particularly those where the head of households is 50-plus. Divorce rates are sharply higher and “blended families” are more prevalent. Nearly 40% of those 50 and older are part of a blended family.


People with stepchildren report that they and their spouse have different financial priorities for their own children than for their stepchildren.

Another factor that challenges families is “boomerang” kids. One in five households over age 50 has at least one boomerang adult child that has moved back in with them, another aspect of difficult economic times.

With your community residents living longer, and many families facing tougher times, support through any means is needed now more than ever.