Now, even boomers are moving back in with mom and dad

Baby boomers, who railed against parental authority in their youth, are increasingly turning to their parents for help with financial problems in their older years.

According to data cited by the Los Angeles Times, about 194,000 Californians aged 50 to 64 lived with their parents as of 2012, an increase of 67.6 percent during the preceding seven years. Though more young Californians live with their parents, the numbers of older folks living with mom and dad rose at a faster rate.

The newspaper's conclusions are backed up by data from other sources. A few years ago, the Pew Research Center estimated that 17 percent of Americans lived in a multigenerational household, the highest rate since the 1950s. A 2012 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that older workers who lose their jobs have a tougher time finding new employment than younger ones.

"Some have given up looking for work," says Catherine Collinson, president of Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and Transamerica Institute. "There's a certain level of feeling overwhelmed."

Further exacerbating baby boomers' woes is the poor state of many of their retirement savings. The median retirement household savings for members of the post-World War II generation is a little more than $100,000, which is nowhere near enough.

The Economic Policy Institute notes that 40 percent of people in their peak savings years (55-64) had nothing saved, and 10 percent had socked away $12,000 or less. According to Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies' 14th Annual Retirement Survey done last year, 62 percent of baby boomers plan to work past 65 or say they won't retire. Another 58 percent plan to continue working at least part-time while "retired" for health insurance coverage.

"Many baby boomers are working longer and retiring later," Collinson said.

That plan doesn't always work out, particularly if boomers experience health problems as they age. As the GAO noted, long-term unemployment can sap retirement savings pretty easily. For instance, a 55-year-old worker who withdrew 50 percent of his $70,000 retirement savings over two years would need another five years to recoup those losses, the agency says.

Then there's the drama that comes from multiple generations living under one roof. Challenges abound both for the parents and the adult children. For friends of Collinson, it has been a challenge.

She notes: "It's safe to say they drove each other crazy."

  • Jonathan Berr

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