Parenthood can be one of the biggest and most rewarding experiences you have in life. Watching your children grow from babies to toddlers to teenagers and beyond can be an unpredictable adventure — and it could get even more complex if you also have aging parents that need your care.
If you find yourself in this situation, you are part of the sandwich generation, as you are "sandwiched" between caring for your children and aging parents. You know that balancing the needs of your children and parents isn't easy. Luckily, there are many personal and financial considerations that could help you manage this balancing act.
The Question of Care
What can your parents truly manage on their own — and what do they genuinely need help with? This can be difficult to answer objectively, but it could also be the key to understanding the level of care they need. Including your parents in this discussion could help ensure that they are part of the decision-making process, which could help them feel empowered (instead of powerless).
If your parents only need help with things like grocery shopping or running errands, you might be able to adjust your schedule to include them on your trips around town. If it's possible, consider supporting your parents in their decision to remain independent. Your assistance could help them keep their freedom as long as possible — while helping you avoid any unnecessary strain.
If your parents also need help with things like dressing, bathing and taking their medication, you might consider an option like in-home care or an assisted living facility. There are many levels of care available and learning more about your parents' needs could help you choose the most appropriate option.
Examine Their Finances & Explore Resources
From homemade birthday cakes and hand-knit winter scarves to supportive cheers from the bleachers, your parents cared for you as you were growing up in a number of ways. And sitting down with your parents to discuss their financial situation could help you care for them now.
This conversation could involve going over their budget, examining their financial cushion and learning more about any existing life insurance policies or other types of coverage. Once you understand both their care needs and financial situation, you could work together to develop a strategic plan for the future.
Consider the following resources, which could also help cover the costs of care:
- Family help: Consider reaching out to close family members to create a wider support system. Whether your parents need high levels of expensive care or just occasional support, you might not have to shoulder the responsibility of care alone.
- Long-term care insurance: Your parents might be in good health now, but what would happen if they ever needed long-term care? Long-term care insurance could pay for the costs associated with nursing home care, home health care and assisted living facilities.
- Other sources of income: You could also check to see if your parents are eligible for government benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which could help contribute to the cost of increased care, or Medicaid, which could help ease the financial burden of health care. Note that rules and eligibility vary by state.
Care for Yourself Too
When was the last time you took some time to care for yourself? As a busy caretaker, you might find that your days are split between giving your all to your children and parents. However, taking the time to care for yourself could help you minimize stress and increase happiness. Whether you decide to treat yourself to a movie, a weekend away or a walk after dinner every night, taking some time for yourself could help you keep your balance.
Life can be busy for a member of the sandwich generation, but taking the time to speak with your parents and explore available resources could help you develop a positive plan of action. Our financial survival guide could help you thrive — not just survive.