The ‘sandwich generation’ is a term used to describe people typically in their 40s and 50s who are caught between the demands of caring for ageing parents as well as their own dependent children.

The term was originally coined for baby boomers in the 80’s and 90’s who married and had children later than their forebears and thus became the first contemporary generation to be sandwiched between the care of children and their own parents.

Generation Xers (those born between the early 1960’s to 1980’s), are also having children later and their parents will, on average, live longer than the previous generation. Today, it’s not uncommon to find people in their 40s with school aged children as well as elderly parents who may be in their twilight years.  For those who find themselves caring for two generations, life can be difficult both emotionally and financially, however there are steps you can take to make things easier.

Start the conversation

It can be awkward to broach a conversation about money with your parents. However if you are taking responsibility for your parents’ care, talking to them about their financial situation is a necessity.  Although it may be a little uncomfortable, the initial conversation is the first and most important step.

Lay finances out in the open

It’s difficult to create a plan without accurate information. So it’s a good idea to sit down with your parents and map out where they stand financially. Start by making a list of their assets and liabilities, income and expenses, and any other information that relates to their finances and care preferences. This also presents the opportunity to find out how your parents would like to spend the rest of their lives, as well as to determine who they would like to make legal and medical decisions on their behalf, should they become unable to do so.

Create a plan

Once you have an understanding of your parents’ finances and their wishes, you’ll be in a stronger position to map out a clear way forward.  At this stage, advice from a financial adviser is invaluable. They can assess your financial resources and obligations and work with you to prepare a financial plan that’s designed to meet your family’s requirements in the future.  A financial adviser can also provide advice in relation to any government payments your parents may be entitled to, and they can liaise with other professionals whose services may be required.  For instance; should your family  need legal documents such as a Living Will and Powers of Attorney.

Ask for support

Unfortunately, it’s often the case that the responsibility of caring for ageing parents falls on one sibling.  If there are other siblings in the family, it may be useful to discuss how the costs and time involved in caring for your parents may be shared more equitably.

Make time for yourself

Sandwich carers are often busy looking after others to look after themselves. It’s important to take time out to recharge your physical and emotional batteries so you can continue to be there for the people who need your help.

It’s not easy to figure out the best solution for your family’s circumstances on your own.  For further information or assistance, please contact your financial adviser.

Source: Capstone.

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