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Cathy W.For Cathy, 64, retirement looks far different than the one she imagined.

The mother of five adult children from suburban Chicago lives with her 26-year-old daughter and 7-year-old grandson. Her multi-generational household makes it easier to afford rent and groceries, but without a bedroom of her own, she sleeps on an inflatable mattress in the living room. Mornings and afternoons are spent taking care of her grandson as her daughter rushes off to work. (The grandson she lives with is her favorite, but she doesn’t tell the other grandchildren that.)

Five nights a week Cathy goes to her own job as a caregiver. Grocery runs are often done on foot with her grandson in tow, unless she can borrow her daughter’s car for some of the bulkier items.

When it comes to retirement, Cathy has one major hurdle: paying down $50,000 worth of medical debt from a hospital stay she incurred when she was uninsured three years prior. As she continues to age, financial stability is a goal that seems out of reach. “I never had anybody telling me you should do this, you should do that — so now I’m stuck where I’m at,” she says.

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