Many things have changed.
There was a time when families were used to dealing with elderly parents, young children … and everything in between, all in one house! This is less common now, and as a result, many families are actually unprepared for how to handle it — simply because models are much less plentiful.
So, I have put together some guidance on this for you. The reason I highlight it now, is that we can help — whether with specific practical assistance, or even just dispassionate advice. You might know someone in this situation — or you could be dealing with it yourself. Go ahead and send this email to them … and let them know that we can be part of their *solution*, and help to give them peace of mind.
They’ll thank you. Even if it’s simply by having some authoritative “help” on their side, we all need to come together in these kinds of situations.
After all, I’m pretty sure our grandparents’ generation didn’t worry about their Facebook profile. Things have indeed changed.
“Real World” Personal Strategy Note
Caring For Two Generations
“You cannot drive your car looking at the rear view mirror. Focus on going forward.” – Steve Harvey
Depending on your perspective, this can feel like a double-whammy.
Certainly, as with children, it’s always a better idea to focus on the benefits of more time with your parents, etc. … but yes, I’ve seen many times how this can put a major drain on a family.
From what I’ve observed of adults thrust into the role of caring for their parents, the biggest struggle often comes from trying to keep their dual responsibilities segregated. They try to ensure that the needs of the aging parent don’t impact what’s going on in their children’s lives.
As an example, the adult children feel like they have to choose between making sure that Mom takes a walk for exercise, and attending a child’s piano recital. No matter what the adult parent chooses, he or she often feels like a failure at everything.
What you need to realize is that this process is not something that you can keep separated in your life. You’ll do your family a great service by viewing it as an experience to be shared with everyone in the family, and maybe even with some members of the outside community.
If you find yourself in this situation here are 3 practical tips I can offer:
1) Get the Actual Facts. You may have avoided talking with your parents about finances in the past. Whether you were taught that those things are private or “it just never came up,” now is not the time for surprises. You need to know how your parents are doing financially and whether they’ve made any provisions in case they become ill or suffer a long-term disability.
2) Ensure the Estate is Set Up Right. At this stage of your parent’s life it’s important to make sure that your parent’s legal house is in order. This can be a tricky conversation to have, but your parents absolutely need to have a financial power of attorney, advance health care directive (a healthcare power of attorney plus a living will), and a simple will. It may not be the fullest estate plan for your parents. It might not be proper Medicaid planning. However, it is the bare minimum you will need to help care for your parents.
3) Insure Against the Future. Now is the time to examine long-term-care insurance or assess whether savings will cover an extended nursing home stay, assisted-living facility costs or extended home-care services. You may be tempted to begin to liquidate your holdings or stop saving for your own benefit to help pay for the cost of your parent’s care. Big mistake.
Remember that there aren’t nearly the same kind of government programs or lending scenarios that will help you pay for your kids, or their college or fund your retirement — as there are to help support aging parents. It’s vital that you continue to save for your retirement.
To more of your money in your savings accounts!