Approximately 43.5 million adult children over the age of 50 – America’s baby boomer generation – are caring for aging loved ones, reports the Family Caregiver Alliance. Many of these boomers are the “sandwich generation,” squeezed between working, raising their children and facing their own health needs while providing the best care for their parents and other loved ones. About 10,000 U.S. baby boomers reach age 65 every day, and as people live longer, this generation may be the first to care equally as long for parents as for children.
Unfortunately, countless boomers are just not prepared for the financial, physical and emotional impact of assisting their older loved ones. The best time to plan for care needs of parents and elders is before the person’s health or living situation reaches a crisis mode. Here are suggestions for assisting with personal care and/or financial resources:
- Talk together as a family about long-term care and a senior’s preferences and goals.
- Consider modifying the loved one’s home with handrails, chairlifts, etc. instead of moving him or her into a care facility.
- Discuss finances and insurance needs openly, referring to a legal or financial specialist if needed.
- Consider home care companies like Right at Home, which can provide everything from transportation and homemaking to hygiene care and skilled nursing.
- Be sure the senior has an advance care directive, which includes a durable power of attorney for legally making financial decisions on behalf of the senior. A health care proxy allows someone to make medical treatment decisions for the loved one, and a living will details plans for end-of-life care.
Boomers who plan ahead will be better able to cope with stressful demands of caregiving and enjoy the rewarding experience of helping a loved one live a full, active life as long as possible.
Are you a member of the sandwich generation?