The Sandwich Generation

April 08, 2019
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The Sandwich Generation is defined as adults who have a living parent over age 65 or older and are either raising a child under 18 or supporting a grown child.  Caring for both parents and children at the same time creates pressures on the ones who are left with those tasks, both in terms of time and money.  One in eight Americans age 40 to 60 is caring for a parent while raising a child, according to the Pew Research Center.  Growth in life expectancy coupled with financial pressures on young adults have contributed to the growth in the number of people caring for both a parent and a child.

Beginning communication early with aging parents can help to alleviate the pressures.  A good first step is to talk with parents about where they keep their important documents such as financial records, insurance policies, powers of attorney, healthcare directives, and password lists.  Assisting parents with organizing and maintaining these documents will simplify the process as you become more involved in your parents’ lives. 

Review the documents to ensure that you will have the authority to act on your parents’ behalf if the need arises.  Once you have reviewed the documents, it might be a good idea to check with an attorney to make sure you have everything you need.  Some things to ask about are a general power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, healthcare directives, executor designations and successor trustees.

Communication will also help you to continually assess the well-being of your parents, and gauge their ability to care for themselves.  Regular communication may help to ensure that they are receiving proper nutrition, are able to shop for groceries, are able to pay their bills and achieve all the activities of daily living.  It may also make sense to begin communicating with your parents’ doctors and nurses, and begin accompanying them to their medical appointments.

Review your parents’ finances with them and familiarize yourself with their sources of income and expenses.  Introduce yourself to their advisors and consider accompanying them to those appointments as well. It is a sad fact that sometimes unscrupulous advisors will take advantage of seniors.

Spend some time talking to your parents about their future.  Find out what their expectations are for their lives as they age.  Be positive and offer solutions, and be mindful of their feelings.  They will likely want to remain as autonomous as possible for as long as possible.  Be patient if they are resistant to your ideas and suggestions.  Consider and plan for possible outcomes like if they can’t drive anymore, can’t live independently anymore, or if their nest egg runs out.

Consider the options if you need help with their care.  Many different levels of care exist, but all come with a cost.  Prices may range from $15 an hour for home care to $50,000 or more for nursing home care.  Planning and budgeting early for professional care may help to ease the burden should the need arise. 

There are many resources available to help you plan for your parents’ care available on the internet.  As with everything online, you should select your sources carefully.  The U.S. Administration on Aging can help to identify resources in your area.  You can visit their website at www.eldercare.gov

Finally, don’t neglect your own well-being when you are being pulled in multiple directions.  Attend to your own physical and emotional needs and involve siblings and other relatives and family friends to help.  Even getting away for a few hours can help to recharge your batteries.  Don’t neglect your own finances.  You still have your own goals and dreams, and it is important to keep those in mind as you care for both children and parents. 

For more information, you can listen to the podcast of Smart Money Management radio show on this topic, along with others, at www.alderferbergen.com.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. 

Securities and financial planning offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor.  Member FINRA/SIPC