This observance honors the adult generation who find themselves sandwiched between caring for their own children as well as their aging parents. Many older adults turn to their adult children for assistance when they start to lose their independence. This new caregiver role can be difficult for the adult child to assume, especially if they still have children at home and are working.
Even if your parents are still living independently, you have a potential for becoming the sandwich generation. Instead of sticking your head in the sand and pretending it will never happen, it’s time to do some planning now.
- Talk to your parents about how you will pay for a home care provider when the time comes they need some help around the house or for personal care.
- Talk about legal authority to maintain their affairs. Get health care directives so you can communicate with their doctors and have access to their medical records. While mom and dad are still in reasonably good health and before a medical crisis occurs, have a plan in place so you don’t have to go to court to get control later.
- If your parents already have an estate plan or any other will, POA, trust, health care directives and so on, make sure they are updated. If they were created years ago their wishes may have changed since then.
- Organize information to avoid last-minute scrambling should a crisis or medical emergency occur. Their medical documentation, prescriptions, insurance, doctors’ names and numbers and all other related information should be gathered and organized into one place for quick and easy retrieval.
Alicia tells her story
Even though the subject was hard to approach, Alicia and her mother Pat had sat down and gone through all the questions about what she wished to happen if the time came when she couldn’t make her own decisions. They had organized everything hoping to never need it, at least not for a while. And they were right. Several years went by and both Alicia and her mother Pat forgot all about the planning they had done because Pat was still very active, travelling around to visit her children and their families and keeping busy in her home community.
One day Alicia received a phone call from her cousin who lived in the same city as Pat. Alicia’s mother had fallen and broken her hip. Alicia flew in to assess the situation. She was glad as she remembered the planning they had done and knew just what to do. She immediately went to work arranging for elderly health care for the first few weeks when her mother would be home from the hospital. After that, her mother would have a home care provider to help her with daily tasks. Alicia knew where the money would come from and took care of the payments. Everything was ready in a short amount of time and with very little stress added to an already delicate situation.