Planning Tips for the Sandwich Generation

The term “sandwich generation” refers to people who are raising their own children and caring for parents at the same time. If you’re “sandwiched” between these two roles, each of which is difficult enough in and of itself, 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. If possible, include your siblings and other members of your extended family in these conversations so everyone is on the same page. This will help to eliminate disagreements that can quickly turn ugly, about what mom and dad would have wanted.

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

caretaking elderlyLong-term care is expensive. In the District of Columbia, the median annual cost of a private room in a nursing home exceeded $116,000 in 2018. Costs are expected to rise dramatically in the years to come. Unfortunately, Medicare Part A will only cover up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility for a particular illness, and only after the patient has spent at least three days in a hospital. Worse, from day 21 to day 100, the individual in the skilled nursing facility must make a copayment of $170.50 per day. 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 look into this option, the better. When exploring your parents’ eligibility for Medicaid, it’s important to take into account rules that may disqualify them from coverage, including income limits, asset limits, and the five-year look-back period.

Have an Estate Plan Created for Your Parents

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.

Compile Emergency Information About Your Parents

The last thing anyone wants in an emergency is to run around frantically searching for important medical and financial information. You should have all of 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’re 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

One 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 grandparents 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 out. 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 The Law Offices Of Clifford M. Cohen at your earliest convenience to discuss your particular needs and goals.

Get Experienced Help Planning Your Estate

Clifford M. Cohen has more than 35 years of experience and dedicates his practice to guiding aging individuals in the Maryland and D.C. area through the creation and implementation of an estate plan. Contact us today at 202-895-2799 for a free case evaluation.