Three generations of womenIf you’re ‘sandwiched’ between raising children and looking after aging parents, then you’re officially a member of the Sandwich Generation. Roughly half of people in their 40s to 60s face the challenge of supporting themselves, their children, and older relatives.

As families delay having children, and more grandparents live longer, the Sandwich Generation is predicted to continue expanding. SageVest Wealth Management offers some useful strategies to help you balance personal and financial considerations during this challenging phase of life. 

Remember Your Own Needs

Just like the airline safety warning to apply your own oxygen mask first, maintaining your health and financial stability puts you in a better position to help your loved ones. Your financial plan needs to blend both your shorter-term obligations, including caring for those you love, with your own longer-term goals.

1) Evaluate your own security first

Continue investing in your own future by saving. Aside from an inheritance, your savings may represent your main source of income in retirement. There are a host of resources and funding alternatives available for college and elderly care, but few to secure your own retirement.

2) Establish a network of support

Contact your local Office of the Aging to seek out government and community resources available for elderly family members. Many such services are free and can provide you with a much-needed break. Also, ask for – and accept – support from friends and family.

3) Juggling work and home

Before quitting your job to meet family care obligations, consider employment alternatives such as reducing your hours, taking a sabbatical or unpaid leave, or working from home.

Involving Your Children

Assuming a caregiving role for your parents or other aging relatives will almost certainly change your family routines, dynamics, and financial focus. However, it also offers a great opportunity to teach your kids about personal, family, financial, and community responsibility.

1) Seek help around the house

Assign age-appropriate chores to your children and pay them an allowance. Doing so frees up your time, demonstrates the connection between work and money, and teaches your children wise saving and spending habits.

2) Discuss college plans

Discuss college plans early on, establishing realistic expectations for your student. Be supportive of your child’s academic success with objective discussions about college costs, including alternative options like scholarships, work study programs, and student loans, plus longer-term considerations such as their potential future earnings, relative to lifestyle expectations.

SageVest can help you to evaluate options, determine funding levels, and make smart college savings choices.

3) Engage adult children

Capable adult children who have remained or returned home should help out by providing caregiving support, and by contributing to household expenses e.g., by paying rent.

Caring For Your Parents

As a caregiver, your own financial decisions may now be influenced by many additional factors, including your parent’s health, whether they live locally, if they plan to move into your home, and the level of hired help they require.

1) Know your parent’s financial resources

Does your parent own a home, or have retirement income or long-term care insurance that can offset costs? Gain an understanding of available resources, relative to expenses, and consolidate where possible.

We strongly advocate proactive family discussions about if, when, and how you will begin handling financial matters for your aging relative, well in advance of changing needs or a crisis. This should include an introduction to their financial advisors. A useful resource to facilitate family discussions is ‘The Other Talk’ by Tim Prosch.

2) Ensure proper documents are in order

Ensure that your parents’ estate planning documents (as well as your own!) are in good order. At a minimum, these should include a durable power of attorney, a health-care directive, and a Will. Use the SageVest LifeList to keep track of important information and documents.

3) Involve professionals

If you want or need help, you might want to hiring a geriatric care manager , and/or daily money manager to assist with day-to-day financial matters.

Finally, if you’re the primary caregiver, consult a tax expert about claiming your parents as dependents.

Women

Men and women are equally likely to be members of the Sandwich Generation. However, the burden of caregiving more frequently falls upon women, according to The Alzheimer’s Association annual report, ‘Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures’ [1]. In its most recent 2018 report, the organization indicates that more than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for family members. Around two thirds of these caregivers are women.

Women are far more likely to adjust to part-time employment or give up work entirely to assume the caregiving role. As they frequently earn less than their male counterparts, and may have already taken a career break to raise a family, the resulting reduction in lifetime income can seriously impact women’s overall financial status and security.

Too often, women are conditioned to think they need to “do it all.” In reality, every caregiver should share the workload, expenses, and emotional burden of looking after aging relatives. Schedule regular family meetings to discuss issues, set priorities, and delegate tasks, especially when family members have differing viewpoints, financial limitations, or live out of town.

SageVest provides comprehensive, coordinated, and compassionate financial planning services to help you achieve your individual and family goals. We can guide sensitive family discussions on college funding, retirement, legacy planning, and other issues. Areas of special emphasis include the distinct interests of women, and the financial education of children.

[1] https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures

Prepared by SageVest Wealth Management. Copyright 2018.

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