You might be reaching the age where your parents are going to be depending on you to provide some level of care. For many of you, this is compounded by the need to provide for children of your own.
There’s even a name for it, the “sandwich generation”. But really, it’s more like the “pulled apart” generation. Whether it’s supporting kids in college or providing long-term care for a parent, it can seem like you are being torn in different directions.
Here are some tips for caring for your parents while maintaining your financial goals… And your sanity.
Put yourself first
This might seem selfish. After all, your parents sacrificed for you, and this is your opportunity to return the favor. But if you are mentally or financially spent, you aren’t going to be able to provide the best possible care.
Make sure you set boundaries in terms of your time and financial commitments. Ask yourself some questions. How much time can you afford to devote to care? Can you afford to leave the workforce or take a reduction in hours? Set boundaries and communicate them to your parents and your partner.
Meanwhile, make sure you are moving toward your retirement goals. Again, this might seem selfish, but continuing to save for your retirement reduces the likelihood you will be a burden to your own children.
Take advantage of resources
Many employers offer services to employees who are also caregivers. Sometimes, these programs are buried deep in your benefits materials, so feel free to reach out to your human resources department and ask.
Tap into government resources as well. Consult the Eldercare Locator through the U.S. Administration on aging. Research federal resources for caregivers. There are tools for money management, and even programs that allow your relative to hire you as a caregiver.
Be intentional about planning
Make sure your paperwork is in order. Your parents’ beneficiaries should be set and Will should be in place before they begin to experience decline. If you will be the primary caregiver among your siblings, make sure you have power of attorney, and that you understand any advanced health care directives your parents may have.
If your parents are young enough, consider purchasing long-term care insurance. This can help to reduce the burden on you as a caregiver and help ensure your parents can afford the care they deserve. While you are at it, if you are over 50, consider purchasing long-term care insurance for yourself.
Look at any assets your parents may have, including 401ks, life insurance, IRAs, pensions and cash in bank accounts. Schedule some time to meet with your advisor and formulate a game plan to make sure you aren’t the one footing the bill for your parents’ care.
Above all, be sure to find balance. Caring for your parents is important, but so are you. By being prepared and setting limits, you can be a better caregiver to them and to yourself.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This article was originally published in the Pioneer Press. You may view the article here.