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Older Adults Challenged Financially When Adult Children Move Home

February 27, 2014

Policy Brief

Authors: Steven P. Wallace, PhD, D. Imelda Padilla-Frausto, PhD, MPH

​This policy brief looks at the financial burdens imposed on older Californians when adult children return home, often due to a crisis not of their own making, to live with their parents. The findings show that on average in California, the amount of money that older adults need in order to maintain a minimally decent standard of living while supporting one adult child in their home increases their expenses by a minimum of 50 percent. Low-income older adults are usually on fixed incomes, so helping an adult child can provide the child with a critical safety net but at the cost of the parents’ own financial well-being. Policy approaches to assisting this vulnerable population of older adults include implementing reforms to increase Supplemental Security Income (SSI), improving the availability of affordable housing, assuring that all eligible nonelderly adults obtain health insurance through health care reform’s expansion of Medi-Cal and subsidies, and increasing food assistance through SNAP and senior meal programs.

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