Boomer Generation: Caught in the Middle

Boomer Generation Boomer or Sandwich Generation middle agers facing college tuition,  financial assistance to older parents and saving for their own retirement, the pressure can be overwhelming. Who to help first?  You can’t sacrifice your nest egg savings and you can’t watch your children and parents flounder.  Planning is KEY fpr the Boomer Generation!

The 2013 Pew Research Center  found that 21% of folks between 40-59 (Sandwich Generation) years old provided some monetary support to a parent in their retirement and 48% also supported at least one adult son or daughter at the same time. You are not alone!

Since the financial pressures of the Boomer Generation exacerbate the emotional stress and worry, it is even more important to plan ahead and get a handle on expenses and resources. Speak with your financial planner about ways to fund college. Speak to school counselors and use the internet to find any and all sources of money which can be used for a child’s education.

When considering the needs of an aging parent, health concerns are paramount. Normal aging has certain ailments associated with it: minor forgetfulness, visual and hearing impairments, slowness etc. but when a medical illness or disease is diagnosed, then planning has to go into high gear- whether for a physical or cognitive decline (dementia) or both. At point of diagnosis, you will need to consult the doctors and medical team, an Elder Law attorney, financial planner in order to put things in order for a longer time frame.

1. Be PROACTIVE, have a PLAN. Try to stay ahead of the curve and not have to react to each crisis anew.  Having a plan in place for a parent’s care will enable you to manage the ups & downs more effectively. What is your parent’s Health Care coverage – Medicare, Managed Plan?

2. You really can’t do it alone, for very long.  Call a family meeting and assign tasks to siblings or to other family members who can take on the responsibility – perhaps an aunt or uncle. You may need a sitter, a driver or more help in the house, yours or your parent’s.  See who can do what. If there is a lawyer, or medical person in the family, assign those types of responsibilities to them.  Align schedules and what each person is able and willing to contribute now and in an emergency.

3. Get a financial plan in place or updated. This is part of your planning. Review your parent’s finances, Insurance, Long Term Care policies, Discuss their wishes and review the “What ifs?” – Will they accept help at home, if needed? Will they remain at home, or consider a Senior Residence or community?  How will things be funded?  Do they qualify for Government Benefits, i.e. Veteran’s Benefits? Do they need to spend down or shift some assets? In Florida, there is a 5 year “look back” period for most Medicaid programs. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of a Reverse Mortgage.

4. When making an appointment with your parent’s financial planner, also make an appointment with their Elder Law attorney, or start anew. There are legal documents to be drawn up. The basics are a Durable Power of Attorney and a Medical Directive.  Spouses need POA’s on each other.  Again, these are part of your planning to avoid chaos in an emergency, crisis situation.  Do you want to have to try to figure out what a parent would have wanted as an end of life choice? You and your siblings likely have some different conversations with each parent. Take the guess work out of it. Have your parents make their wishes legal. You can do the same for your children.

5. Establish boundaries with both your adult children and elderly parents. What are you able and willing to do for each in terms of providing a place to live? Cover some of their costs? Finance some of their needs?  Remember, your retirement fund is your Old Age financial plan and not open for others to use.

6. Speak with your Financial Planner, Broker, And Insurance Agent.  Review your policies, explore new products which can serve as life insurance or converted for Long Term Care.  You may want to increase your Life Insurance until your adult offspring’s are financial independent.

In short, keep your eyes open

Folks in the Boomer Generation need to put together a plan which addresses the various needs and time frames. Consult with several professionals to put together the best plan and review it periodically as things change. Be open about your limits, intentions and planning – both with adult children, and parents.  There may be 4 parents between you and some children. The time to discuss matters is sooner, rather than later.   Act out of power, rather than reacting to crisis