Over Half of Americans Aged 25 or Older With Senior Parents Are Claiming Them as Dependents on Their Taxes in 2024

What You Should Know 

  • When asked why they financially support their parents, more than 4 out of 10 American adults cite insufficient income due to the rising cost of living.
  • Over half of those who claimed their parents as dependents on their taxes started claiming them in the past two years, 2022-2023. 
  • 3 out of 4 adults who claim their parents on their taxes are also financially responsible for one or more children, joining what is known as the “sandwich generation.”
  • 4 out of 10 “sandwich generation” parents say they financially support their adult children because they are unemployed.

Caring.com surveyed 4,000 American adults aged 25 or older to measure how many are claiming their parents as dependents on their taxes this year. The survey found that more than 50% of those with at least one living parent, and 1 in 3 respondents overall, are claiming them on their taxes this year. When asked why, more than 4 in 10 say their parents’ savings and income are insufficient in today’s current economy. Further, 1 in 3 say their parents can’t afford medical expenses and senior care.

3 out of 4 adults who claim their parents on their taxes also have at least one child dependent, making them part of the “sandwich generation” responsible for caring for and financially supporting both their parents and their children. 

“As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, we see how stretched thin the sandwich generation truly is,” says John Farrell, Director of Financial Planning and Analysis at Caring.com. “Add to this recent economic shocks, growing income disparity and a tight labor market, and you have a perfect recipe for a caregiver crisis. We talk with caregivers every day who are trying to hold down a job, provide for their children, and care for their aging parents at the same time.” 

Caring.com created this survey to raise awareness of the financial pressures that caregivers face as they provide for their senior parents and often their own children as well. Caring.com is committed to supporting caregivers with empathetic guidance, vital resources, and tangible solutions.


To help shed light on the financial challenges facing American families as reflected by their tax-dependent status, Caring.com partnered with PollFish to survey more than 4,000 American adults over the age of 24 to determine if they’re claiming their parent(s) as a dependent on their taxes, when they started doing so, and why. The survey was conducted online on March 14th – 16th, 2024. 

Of All Those Who Claimed Their Parents on Their Taxes, More than 50% Started in the Past Two Years

When survey respondents were asked in which year they first claimed their parents as dependents on their tax returns, 28% said they did so for the first time this year on their 2023 tax return. An additional 25% did so for the first time on their 2022 tax return. This may indicate a correlation between rising inflation and seniors’ decreased ability to support themselves financially, in addition to the potential fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

First year that parents were claimed on taxes

More than 4 out of 10 American Adults Cite the Rising Cost of Living as the Reason They Are Financially Supporting Their Parents

When asked what the primary reasons were for their parents’ financial dependency, many adults point to the state of the U.S. economy – 4 out of 10 say they are financially supporting their parents because their parents’ savings, investments and income, including Social Security payments, are insufficient to cover the current cost of living. 

35% of respondents said their parents’ medical expenses or debt has overwhelmed their finances, and an additional 35% said their parents depend on them financially because they can’t afford senior living or senior care expenses. Worryingly, 1 in 5 seniors are financially dependent on their children because they were the victim of a fraud or scam. 

However, almost half of the respondents indicated that a primary reason for financially supporting their parents is a feeling of responsibility to provide for them as they age. Among adults with senior parents who are claiming them on their taxes, 3 out of 4 have at least one parent living with them in their family home. 

Financially Dependent Parents

3 out of 4 Adults Who Claim Their Parents on Their Taxes are Also Financially Responsible for One or More Children

74% of those who claim their parents on their taxes indicated that they also claimed one or more children on their 2023 tax return. These adults belong to the “sandwich generation,” named for their role in supporting and caring for both their elderly parents and their children. 

Notably, 33% of those in the “sandwich generation” are financially supporting at least one Gen Z child over the age of 18. 

Claiming your children as dependents

When asked why they had to claim their adult child as a dependent in 2023, 4 out of 10 parents said their Gen Z child was unemployed, and 37% said their child had made poor financial decisions or had too much debt to support themself financially. However, the number one reason given was that their adult child was a full-time student, with 55% citing this as the leading factor for their child’s financial dependency. 

Why Adult Children Are Still Dependent on Their Parents

Where to Go From Here

This survey makes it clear that many seniors and their loved ones face serious financial pressures, such as affording senior living or grappling with medical debt. If you or a loved one needs financial assistance, you can read the following guides to learn more about what resources may be available to you.