April 30, 2013

Sandwiched, Part 1

Deuth,-Dave-colorBy David W. Deuth, CFSP
President, Weerts Funeral Home

You’re caring for someone – an elderly parent, perhaps – and along the way, you’re getting quite an education. With a great deal of hard work and sacrifice on your part, you’ve been able to keep them in their own home. Or, perhaps they’re living in YOUR home. One way or another, it’s all worked out OK. Until now.

The supervision and level of care that is required has suddenly eclipsed your capability, availability and, quite possibly, your sensibility. You feel good that you’ve done it all for quite awhile now, and somehow, you managed to make it all work. At the same time, you have that nagging feeling that you’re dropping the ball because you simply cannot meet all their needs anymore.

But, just in case you’re wondering . . . you’re not alone. According to a 2009 AARP survey, “…more than 42 million Americans provide family caregiving for an adult who needs help with daily activities.” The same survey indicates that “…an additional 61.6 million people provide at least some care during the year.” Nope. You’re not alone. It appears that you’re in the company of about 100 million others.

All at the same time, so intense has the care-giving role for your parent(s) become, that you may actually be losing sight of another primary responsibility: your own family. Your kids may still call your nest “home,” whether toddlers or high-schoolers or anything in between. They need your time, your guidance, your attention, your affection…and your resources.

You’re not alone here, either. Whether you know it or not, if you’re caring for a parent (or other relative) AND caring for (or financially supporting) your children, you’re among a rapidly growing number of Americans who find themselves sandwiched between their responsibilities and the generations to whom they’re responsible. No surprise, then, that you are now identified as one of the “Sandwich Generation.”

Some in this category are also accommodating what are known as boomerang children – kids who’ve grown and gone, only to return to the nest because of any number of circumstances. Still others are paying for college expenses, and even post-college living expenses, for their adult children.

As the Sandwich Generation numbers continue to grow, a couple new varieties of “sandwiches” have been added to the menu:

• Club Sandwich: those in their 50s or 60s sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren, or those in their 30s and 40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
• Open Faced: anyone else involved in elder care.

The implications of being “sandwiched” can range from minor to positively overwhelming – one of the most significant of which can be in the financial realm. As the economy continues to tighten and things continue to cost more and more, many seniors are finding that – despite everything that felt like proper retirement planning 20 years ago – it is very possible to outlive your money today.

As parents with two kids in college, Linda and I understand the financial impact of college costs. Plus, our son is getting married in a few weeks. If we were required to supplement our parents’ living (or medical) expenses, it would certainly be a big one-two punch.

Now that the issue is identified and even has its own name, what are the workarounds? Do good solutions exist for those who are “sandwiched?” The answers to these questions vary, to be sure, and a one-size-fits-all solution is certain folly. The best approach is always to seek and obtain good, qualified professional advice for your particular set of circumstances . . . because if your planning doesn’t do what need it to do when you need it do what you GOT it to do, it’s about like having no plan at all.

Next month, we’ll take a closer look at one particular scenario that we’re beginning to see more frequently among those who are being sandwiched. It might be an eye opener for some.

Remember Well.

Statistics Source: Wikipedia.com.