Creating the Perfect Sandwich
The term “Sandwich generation” is a term used for a generation of people, usually in their 40s and 50s, who care for their aging parents while at the same time supporting their own children. The typical American Sandwich Generation Caregiver is in her mid-forties, married, employed and cares for her family and an elderly parent, usually her mother. AARP estimates there are more than 66 million Americans caring for both their children and parents financially and emotionally.
The Sandwicher-set is growing; we are all living longer and having babies later in life. Chances are that half of us will at some point be responsible for our parents and our children at the same time. Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project stated that nearly half (47 percent) of those currently raising kids have a parent over age 65 who requires care or may require care in the future. With those odds, it pays to be prepared.
Have you had a conversation with your parents about their financial picture, their savings account and insurance coverage lately? Does it sound as uncomfortable as discussing your sex life with them? Time to get over it (the financial part that is)! Here are some tools to create a customized sandwich – even if you’re a Sandwicher already:
Approach with love: We are all specialists in some way of putting off things we don’t want to (or don’t quite know how to) deal with in our lives. We are asking our parents about their future plan because we want an amazing future together. Go slow, but be steadfast.
The more we know, the better we’re prepared. Get it all on the table:
Health Insurance plan
Savings and investments
Life insurance. Long term care insurance
Living Will, Power of Attorney and Health proxy
Wills and Trusts
Talk about it-but also get a copy of the documents. Most parents want independence and want to be in charge of how they are cared for, so planning is critical. Unfortunately, many parents cannot afford costly LTC insurance or annuities and have very little saved, so we are then faced with the question of how we will afford to care for them. In these cases we must arm ourselves with knowledge on available assistance to ensure quality care and optimal life for those we love. Medicaid and PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are available if you meet the benefit requirements and you can call your state Medicaid program to see if you qualify and learn how to apply. Go to www.medicare.gov for more info.
Cue the siblings: Bring them into the conversation, even if it’s via smoke signal. Clear, concise information when shared creates better decision making in the long run.
Make sure your Empire-ing is in full swing. But you already knew that. Continue to build your retirement accounts --- there are no scholarships or grants or loans for retirement, like there are for college.
Some things to consider when caring for an aging parent are:
Housing options – Evaluate and plan for appropriate level of housing or residential options. Staying in their home, assisted living, independent living, nursing home, home healthcare.
Social activities – providing opportunity for parent to engage in social and recreational activities such as adult day centers, and the ensuing logistics.
Medical management – doctor appointments, facilitating communication between doctor and parent, monitoring adherence to medical orders and instructions.
Financial responsibility - overseeing bill payment, contributing money for care.
State and Federal entitlement programs – Medicare, Medicaid, PACE, SSI, Housing and Veterans subsidies, food stamps.
Enlist your advisor- Your advisor can provide many resources for your specific situation, and add perspective and support to your home team.
SUPPORT GROUPS!! You are not alone and there are so many amazing people that are going through a similar journey. Learn from each other. Collaborate. PBS is a great place to seek information on all kinds of support groups for aging parents and Sandwich-ers.
No level of financial planning will prepare us for the myriad of emotions as we go through something like this. We must promise, swear even, to take care of ourselves BEFORE we take care of our parents and children; if we’re not at our best we cannot care for anyone else. Don’t take on more than you can handle --and drop the guilt--there’s enough of that in the world already.
THE BEST PART: BONDING
Include children in the conversation relative to their maturity. Change happens. Preparing and including children empowers their compassion, encourages empathy, and models the true meaning of the Long Game.
Create the Long Game to your Empire by collaborating with like-minded women at Divine WealthWise!
Tweet us: Divine WealthWise (@GatherGrowGive) Share your favorite pic of you and your parents! We’d love to see them!
Grab your journal to reflect on what you've discovered this week.
How did this week’s content & action make you feel?
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Dani Hughes & Valerie Sanchez
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