Planning for Tomorrow With Skill & Integrity REACH OUT TO US

Planning Tips for the Sandwich Generation

Dec. 6, 2022

The term “sandwich generation” refers to people who are raising their own children while simultaneously trying to care for aging parents. If you are “sandwiched” between these two roles, the stress can seem overwhelming. Here are some tips for managing the challenge.

Have “The Talk” with Your Parents as Soon as Possible

“The Talk” involves speaking with your parents about their wishes regarding long-term care and who will be able to make decisions on their behalf in the event of incapacity. By addressing these issues early and openly, you can then take steps to create legal documents to ensure your parents’ care will reflect their wishes (more about these documents later). Be sure to include your siblings and other members of your extended family in these conversations so that everyone is on the same page. This will help eliminate disagreements, which can quickly turn ugly, about what mom and dad would have wanted.

Determine How to Pay for Long-Term Care Before It’s Needed

Older person sitting and smiling up at younger person in scrubsLong-term care is expensive. While costs vary based upon where you live and the level of care needed, in the U.S. the median cost for a private room in a nursing home was $8,517 per month in 2019. A one-bedroom unit in an assisted living facility was over $3,600 per month. Costs are expected to rise dramatically in the years to come. Unfortunately, Medicare will only cover skilled nursing care in a nursing home for a maximum of 100 days, and even then, co-pays of more than $160 per day kick in after the first 20 days. No wonder many families exhaust their life savings within two years of a family member entering a nursing home.

The good news is that Medicaid will pay for long-term nursing home care. In fact, with proper planning (which is often called Medicaid Planning), it is possible to protect your parents’ assets while at the same time ensuring they receive the care they need. The sooner you investigate this option, the better. When exploring your parents’ eligibility for Medicaid, it is important to consider rules that may disqualify them from coverage. Medicaid has a “look back” policy that could result in penalty periods or disqualification, and missing this important piece of information could be financially devastating.

Draft the Proper Legal Documents

For adult children raising kids of their own, assuming the role of caregiver for one’s parents can be extraordinarily difficult without the help of proper legal documents. We have discussed the importance of The Talk. The information gleaned from this discussion provides a foundation for the creation of effective legal documents that express and protect your parents’ wishes. These documents include a Will, a Power of Attorney, a Living Will/Healthcare Proxy, and a HIPAA Medical Release. Let’s take a quick look at these documents.

A Will directs how a person’s estate is to be administered and how his or her assets will be distributed after death. The person who creates the Will is called the Testator while the individual who settles the estate is known as the Executor. Naming the Executor and specifying “who gets what” in advance can help eliminate family infighting.

A Power of Attorney allows an individual to name someone (the Agent) to act on his or her behalf in the event of incapacity. The Agent can make decisions regarding property as well as legal, financial, and personal matters.

A Living Will details a person’s wishes concerning his or her medical care, including artificial life support, surgery, or other medical treatments related to an end of life situation or permanent unconsciousness. A Healthcare Proxy names a trusted person to make medical decisions on behalf of an individual who has become incapacitated.

A HIPAA Medical Release allows people to specify who has access to their medical information. Without a HIPAA Release, family members may be denied access to medical and insurance records in an emergency.

Effective estate planning can include many other strategies and tools to accomplish a wide range of goals, but the above documents are absolutely essential to carrying out your parents’ wishes and fostering harmony among extended family members.

Plan Accordingly Ahead of Time

The last thing anyone wants in an emergency is to run around hysterically searching for important medical and financial information. You should have all the following information readily available:

  • Copies of the front and back of insurance cards, prescription cards, and, if applicable, military IDs

  • Names and contact information of primary care physicians and specialists

  • Basic medical history, such as medications, previous surgeries, and allergies

  • A current list of medications and dosage

  • Contact information for banks, financial advisors, insurance agents, attorneys, and other key advisors

  • A list of financial accounts and safe deposit boxes, as well as the institutions where they are held

  • The location of all estate planning documents, including Power of Attorney, Living Will/Healthcare Proxy, Will, HIPAA Medical Release, and, if applicable, trusts

Involve Your Children in Your Parents’ Care

Older person sitting with young child looking at picture bookOne advantage of being in the sandwich generation is that you have help at hand—your kids. Maybe your daughter has a driver’s license. If so, she can take her grandparent to a doctor’s appointment from time to time. Or you can take your son to visit with his grandparents at the nursing home or assisted living facility. Even young children can help. If your parents live with you, one of your young children can bring them a snack or show them how to use the television. Perhaps best of all, by spending time with their grandparents your children will likely have less anxiety about what your parents are going through.

While being a member of the sandwich generation isn’t easy, planning in advance can help lighten the load and ensure your parents receive the care they need. Proper planning can also provide you with greater peace of mind. We invite you to contact us at your earliest convenience to discuss your particular needs and goals. We strive to make your stress load lighter and easier through careful planning. This is our specialty. Call us at (814) 961-2050 to schedule an appointment for a day and time that works best for you. We are located right outside of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.