Are you in the ‘sandwich generation’? This means you have children at home and your parents are getting older, putting you firmly in the role of primary supporter, now or in the near future. If you’re experiencing challenges, you’re certainly not alone. Due to increases in life expectancy and many people choosing to start a family later in life, you’re part of an ever-growing demographic. Here are some tips towards preparing for this time and dealing with common issues that arise.
Talking about ageing and what that means for your parents isn’t a topic anyone likes to broach. However, the sooner you can prepare for the possibilities, emotionally, financially and practically, the easier it will be in the long run. The very first step is to have a discussion with your family, with the aim of coming to an agreement on what the options are for caring for your parents. Should a health or financial crisis arise, having a firm plan in place offers a safety net in a stressful and emotional time.
Depending on your individual circumstances, finding the best solution to ensure your parents are comfortable while maintaining your own needs stems from proactive, honest conversations. Do your parents wish to stay in their own home? If so, how are they coping with day-to-day living, and what happens if they need assistance in the future?
Knowing this in advance allows you to look into the possibility of help, whether that’s through the availability of your support network or government services. This also gives you the chance to prepare to make modifications in the home if needed, to help maintain independence. This could include handrails in the bathroom, extra security features, non-slip flooring and better lighting.
On the other hand, perhaps your parents would prefer to move to a retirement village in order to easily maintain a social life, relinquish the need to look after the home and receive medical support if needed. Or, this may be a necessity if a high level of medical care is required. If so, now is the time to research the options, including the financial implications, in order to ensure the best solutions.
It’s important to understand your parent’s financial situation and establish processes before a crisis arises, in order to avoid future stress. This includes information about income, account details and insurance funds, along with determining who takes legal responsibility through a Power of Attorney. While this all seems like an awful topic to discuss over dinner, having a process in place really does offer peace of mind for everyone.
The role of caregiver for two generations can certainly take its toll. It’s vital to continue to look after yourself, for your own mental, physical and financial wellbeing. There aren’t any prizes for taking the burden squarely on your own shoulders, so always seek help and ensure you have a reliable support network in place. Make it a priority to nurture yourself on a regular basis, to stay healthy and continue on a proactive path towards the best solutions for you, your children and your parents.
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