A: That’s a really important question — and one that many women are facing. Our parents care for us for so many years and we all want to take care of them when they really need it. No matter how quickly it takes hold, incapacity can wreak havoc on a family's financial goals. Careful financial and legal planning can help you avoid many of the pitfalls.


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If you’re a Baby Boomer or Gen X’er, chances are that you are among the 20 million Americans living in what’s called the Sandwich Generation: people who simultaneously care for aging parents and children.1 If it’s possible that you will care for a parent, you’ll need to have a frank discussion about personal finances with them in case one or both become unable to handle paying the bills and other day-to-day tasks.

 

Making sure all legal documents are in place before you need them can save you time, headaches and heartaches. Here are a few examples of what to have on hand that may help under certain circumstances:


  • Durable Power of Attorney (a written authorization to represent or act on another's behalf)
  • Healthcare Proxy
  • Living Will
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Access to key bank accounts
  • a list of doctors they currently visit


Caring for your parent can be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Look for community resources, like support groups or your local office on aging. And you may want to schedule an appointment with a financial advisor to help make sure you’re as financially prepared as you can be.

 

Although very difficult, if not impossible, to understand, consider what your parents are going through. No one enjoys losing their independence and having to depend on others. Research healthcare options if needed, including assisted living facilities and in-home care options. Be prepared to set appropriate boundaries and be realistic about what you can handle. Don’t do it alone!

 

What do you plan to do in preparation for eldercare?


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1 Pew Research Center (December 2005): From the Age of Aquarius to the Age of Responsibility.