The "empty nest" of past generations, in which the kids have grown up and middle aged adults have more time to themselves, has been replaced in our country by a nest that's full-kids who can't leave, can't find a job and aging parents who need more help than ever before. Oregon State University just completed a new research study and found that what was once a life stage of new freedoms, options and opportunities has largely disappeared. They attribute several reasons for this metamorphasis among them an economic recession that began in 2008 yielding record unemployment, substantial stock market losses, lower home values and increased demand for higher levels of education coupled with the fact that many older people are living longer, although not always in good health, which adds new and unanticipated needs that their children often must step up to assist with. The end result, according to OSU Center for Healthy Aging Research, are "empty nest" plans that often have to be put on hold, and a mixed bag of emotions, ranging from joy and "happy to help" to uncertainty, frustration and exhaustion. The study showed that adult parents needing increasing amounts of assistance, was seen as both a joy and a burden and certainly not anticipated. "There are times when it's a burden and I feel resentful" said one study participant. These issues cause "the sandwich generation" (demands of children still transitioning to independance and aging parents who need more care and attention) to focus on re-evaluating their own lives and plans...which speaks to my next focus...For the first time, this year, LTCI carriers will introduce gender based pricing, starting with Genworth Financial Inc, the nation's largest seller. Women's long term care policies will soon cost more which reflect actuarial realities - women live longer and prepare ahead more for their futures by buying policies. Over two thirds of all claim payouts go to female customers. Women accounted for over 58% of all policies sold in 2011, according to LIMRA. The cost increase for new policies on single women will jump to 20% or more, depending on the carrier. Lower rates will still apply to married couples who purchase joint coverage. Only about 3% of policyholders allow their coverage to lapse. It's a smart consumer move to hold on to policies, but it's costly for carriers, who ultimately wind up paying more claims.