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OCT
11
Baby Boomers: The Sandwich Generation

We hear it almost daily—as baby boomers, we are part of the "Sandwich Generation."  And, believe me, that's no baloney!  For those of you new to the Sandwich Generation, let me define it for you:  It is generation of people who are caring for their aging parents while simultaneously supporting and caring for their children. The term was coined in 1981 by sociologist Dorothy Miller, and AARP estimates that 20 million Americans are currently helping their kids through college and dealing with the numerous medical and health issues of one or both elderly parents. And according to Pew Research Center, approximately 7-10 million are doing it long distance!

I totally relate to the Sandwich Generation, because I am a member. I had to oversee the care for my parents, while at the same time I was raising teenagers and going through the college experience. Sometimes, I felt like I was really in the "Hero Sandwich Generation."  No, I'm not trying to make light of it, but juggling both responsibilities was a real challenge for me. For example, even though I had some help, I found the whole college experience from start to finish absolutely exhausting. First, you must research the colleges for your child, all the while trying to help him or her understand what it is they really want to do in life. Then, you need to find out where and how to get the best financial aid. And don't forget the numerous applications that need to be filled out for the various colleges, which seem to be endless. They are difficult and time-consuming.  If your kid is creative, then you have to put together portfolios, e.g., artwork for the artist, film and videos if into media, and complete all of the written essays and last, but not least, you have the many visits to the colleges. I was feeling like I was the one applying for college!! The day my kids were accepted, I believe I was happier than they were—because I felt like I was the one being accepted!

So, as many of us were (or are now) going through the college phase with our children, many of us also had (or have) parents in their 70s, 80s and 90s. Some were suffering with health issues, as mine were. It's painful to witness your parents' suffering with debilitative conditions like broken hips, arthritis, heart problems, and even strokes. They're either in hospitals, nursing homes or are semi-independent with home health care.  The responsibility is all ours as their adult children, and we are bombarded with extra stress that we never before had to deal with—and from two different sides! We are sandwiched between these generations. And, oh yes-----PLUS we are working hard to financially withstand these "sandwiched" responsibilities.   

So, what do we do?  Well, even though I am in the business of advising my baby boomer clients who are facing these challenges, I retain the services of a specialist who helps me with some of my own challenges. For example, a friend of mine who specializes in the college experience helped me with everything I needed to do for my child.  I paid his fee and as far as I'm concerned, it was the best thing I've ever done in my life. I always send him referrals because I was so satisfied with his service. Could I have spent more time doing everything on my own? Sure. But would it have been smart for me to spend all that time and energy? I didn't think so because I wanted to spend my time on what I do best and what I enjoy—helping my clients who are business owners, professionals, and pre-and post-retirees with their challenges.

Now, with regard to the parent care challenge, let me share something with you. Unfortunately (and some might say, fortunately) both my mother and father have passed away after long illnesses. But because of the wrenching experience I went through with them, which included home health care, rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes…and right down to watching my father being taken care of during his last days through hospice,  I believe I am a valuable resource to my clients who are my age and going through the same things right now with their kids and parents that I also went through. I've lived it and I can empathize with their pain. Here is what I believe:  If you haven't lived it, how can you counsel effectively? You become more credible and believable. It becomes a trust factor. My clients' stories move me, and I am truly passionate about helping them. As a result of my own experience, I have exceptional contacts and resources that have helped me, and I can pass them on as well.

One of the things that clients tell me is that it is very difficult for their elderly parents to have a serious discussion about these topics. (Just as it is difficult for some of them to have these discussions with their adult children.) Some of our challenges with eldercare are that our parents really don't want to listen to us or take our advice…why?  Because they are our PARENTS. Just like our kids don't want to listen to US.  But it is essential to talk to our parents and make sure they have their important documents in order, to make sure their wishes are met and their legacy is fulfilled. More important, a conversation about their future healthcare is a priority because you both need to have a complete understanding of all the issues. I work with the best eldercare attorneys in the area, and the various documents such as   living wills, powers of attorney, DNRs, Advanced Directives (Tom, you can name some of these) are some of the important papers that should be drawn up.   These discussions can also be held together with their financial professionals (financial advisor, attorney, CPA etc) and that way you are assured that your parent's (or your) legacy will be carried out and it won't be a mystery to your kids. You don't want to leave your kids with an enormous burden of trying to second-guess what your wishes are, and have to deal with any family disagreements after you are gone. And your parents certainly wouldn't want that either. So the discussion is vital for both you, your adult children, and for your parents.

Let me know if being in the Sandwich Generation is affecting you and your family, and   how I may be of help during these trying times.  Please call me at 732-974-3770, or blog me at blog@froehlichfinancial.com or visit us at www.froehlichfinancial.com  

See you next time!

Tom

Securities offered through American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc. Member: FINRA, SIPC, MSRB. Investment Advisory products/ services are offered through APA, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Froehlich Financial Group, LTD is not an affiliate of APA or APFS. 

Sandwiched!: Tales, Tips, and Tools to Balance Life in the Sandwich Generation by Carol L. Russell Ed.D. (Paperback - Aug. 22, 2009)



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Securities offered through American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc. Member: FINRASIPC. Investment Advisory products/services are offered through American Portfolios Advisors, Inc., a SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Froehlich Financial Group, Ltd. and American Executive Benefits, Inc. are not affiliates of APA or APFS. Executive wealth management products/services are offered through Froehlich Financial Group, LTD. a registered investment advisor



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