The Sandwich Generation

- CPA Tom Walpole discussed the "Sandwich Generation" and the choices they face when caring for parents and children Monday on News 8 at Sunrise.

Walpole defined the Sandwich Generation as people loosely in their 40s to 60s who are "sandwiched" between caring for their children and their aging parents.  Women are the ones who most often step into the caregiving role. 

Those who fall into this category must set priorities early on because the situation could last for a couple of years, or longer.  Walpole said it's important to communicate openly with other family members to share resources - financial, emotional and time.  He also said delegate responsibilities so everything doesn't fall on your shoulders.  It's important to remember your own future and keep your retirement plan funded and intact.

When it comes to caring for your parents, Walpole said it's necessary to get a handle on their financial situation - accounts, any long term care insurance, retirement accounts, debt, professional advisors, and important documents.  It's equally important to establish a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy.  Understanding their expectations will help facilitate their care.

For your children, Walpole said begin with a conversation.  They may be feeling the effect of lost attention as you navigate your parents' affairs, especially if a parent is moving into the home.  He said it's important to assess and discuss any impact helping your parents may have on your child's plans, especially college.  Discuss the importance of financial priorities and be sympathetic.

Walpole also said as you face the challenge of being sandwiched bewteen family members who need your help, make sure you take care of yourself first.  Keeping your own financial goals intact is vital, but it's also important to be rested and strong, or those you love and care for will not get your best effort.

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