What is the Sandwich Generation? Is it a generation who subsisted on bologna and roast beef in the 80’s? NO! If you’re between thirty-five and fifty-five years old, you are part of the Sandwich Generation. It’s adult children who are financially responsible for their own children and aging parents.
This is a relatively new phenomenon because in the past, kids grew up and at 18 they got out; got married and had their own families. Now, due to a slow economy, kids are growing up, going off to college, graduating, not finding a job and putting off marriage and kids until later.
At the same time, our parents are living longer. In the 1930’s life expectancy was 67, but today many adults are living 20-35 years into retirement. So what happens when your parents can no longer take care of themselves and you still have children to support?
The best advice is to discuss everyone’s needs and expectations before a crisis arises. You’ll want to have an open discussion not only with your parents, but also with your husband and kids.
What should be discussed?
1. Decide early what your family preferences are when your aging parent can no longer live on their own. Will they live in your home? Will you look to a long-term care provider? OR will they go to a retirement facility? What can you afford? What can they afford?
2. Discuss finances with your parents. What do they have in savings? Who is their banking institution? What is their insurance coverage? Do they have life insurance? Make sure that all coverages are paid and current. If you can, help them to start cutting costs now and getting rid of unnecessary bills.
3. Set boundaries. Are your kids paying for college or will you? How much will you give them for school? Or perhaps your grown children are part of the boomerang trend, moving back in after a layoff or not being able to find a job. We all want to help our own children to the best of our ability, but we also want to raise responsible, independent children who are self-reliant. Let your children know what you are able to afford and what you are not.
4. What resources are available to help you and your parents? Taking care of both your parents and children will add loads of stress to your life, so find resources that are available to help you and your family cope. Perhaps you have access to visiting nurses, Meals on Wheels or senior centers and churches can provide a helping hand. Look at all your options.
5. Discuss your retirement goals with your husband. Taking care of parents and children will no doubt eat into your retirement egg. Find ways to protect your money and assets so you don’t have to delay enjoying your Golden Years.
What tips can you add?