Are you raising your own children and caring for aging parents? If so, you are part of an ever-growing group called the Sandwich Generation. The sandwich generation is typically people in their thirties or forties, responsible for bringing up their own children while at the same time, responsible for the care of their aging parents. While this generation is probably well-versed in summer camps, daycares, and immunization schedules, they may also be familiar with topics like Medicare, Long-Term Care Insurance, or how to prepare for a decline in their parents’ independence. If thinking about all of that is enough to send you running for the hills, don’t. Knowledge, in this situation as in most every situation, is power and peace of mind.
The Sandwich Generation is rapidly growing as the number of people over the age of 65 is set to double over the next 25 years. Being a member of that generation means you are taking care of the people in your life who matter the most, but it comes at a cost, both financial and personal.
There are a number of things you can do to prepare for this potential situation and to reduce your stress load.
Take care of yourself. You need to sleep, eat well, exercise, and remember to laugh. Caretaking takes a heavy toll and if you are taking care of your kids as well as your parents, you’re getting hit by a double whammy.
If your parents are still able to manage their finances, you don’t know that they always will be. Talk with them about their finances and be sure to understand what they have, how they have it managed, and if they will need long-term care, how it will be paid for.
Educate yourself about Medicare. It’s an alphabet soup with Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D and you’ll want to know what your parents have and what they don’t.
- Part A covers hospitalization, some skilled nursing facility and home health care, and hospice. Both your parents get this coverage free even if only one of them worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years.
- Part B covers doctor’s care, lab tests, screenings and preventive services. Your parents will usually pay a monthly premium for this coverage.
- Part C, also called Medicare Advantage, consists of Medicare-approved plans offered by private insurers that include Medicare Part A and Part B coverage in one package. Some plans also include coverage of prescription drugs.
- Part D is the Medicare prescription drug benefit plan that your parents can purchase if they are eligible for Medicare.
The need for help with transportation, growing hospital and medication expenses, and extra homecare increases substantially as we age. Learn about programs that are available for people juggling caretaking on both ends.
- Getting Around: Sometimes your aging parent just needs help getting around. Well, there’s an app for that and an app you are most likely familiar with—UBER or LYFT. If you’re shuttling kids from soccer practice to friends’ houses, you probably can’t take your parent to every appointment. The use of these ride services among seniors is steadily increasing and helping many seniors get to doctor appointments, the grocery store, or invaluable social time with family or friends. One of the worst things for an elderly person’s state of mind can be feeling isolated or stuck. Ride services like Uber or Lyft can help alleviate that isolation and the pressure on the caregiver. See this article on senior.com about using Uber to care for elders.
- Affording Medications: Getting sticker shock at the pharmacy when picking up your folks medications? Simplefill , the leading prescription assistance company, is here for you. As we age, our medication needs can grow exponentially and managing costs can be overwhelming for the entire family. A prescription assistance company like Simplefill helps patients find ways of affording their increased medication expenses. Simplefill is a service that is easy to use is well known for their customer care. Just call to talk to a service representative and she will walk you through the process.
- Home Care or Assisted Living: There are reputable companies that can give you help in the home if your parent isn’t ready for a nursing home yet. Home Instead and A Place for Mom are two companies helping the sandwich gen care for their parents.
It’s stressful answering the needs of young children or teenagers while juggling the needs of an aging parent. It can feel like a never-ending battle. Remember to take joy in having your family around—at whatever stage of life. Know that you are able to give back to your parents all the love and support they gave to you. And know that you’re teaching your own children that we do what we can for our family.