How Younger Adults Manage Aging Parents

Have you ever heard of the sandwich generation? It’s the generation between managing your kids through high school and into their college years at the same time trying to figure out how to handle aging parents that need more attention.

Trying to balance caring for multiple family members can be stressful and overwhelming. Whether you’re a young adult in your 30s, millennials, or in your 40s and pushing 50, this unique generation is not so unique. Around 11 million Americans provide care to an adult while also caring for children living in their homes. They may be trying to balance the cost of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and college tuition all in the same timeframe.

Many folks struggle as they witness these age-related declines in their parents. Perhaps they’re not as agile, mobile, or even active as they used to be. Perhaps they’re making decisions that make you pause with concern. The key is trying to get everyone on the same page financially and while that might be difficult with parents that may even be a little bit stubborn, it’s not impossible.

Working with stubborn parents.

Stubborn may be a strong word here, but I think once you’re there, you understand the situation. Seniors can often fear the unknown, loss of independence and long-term effects from medical conditions. All of this may cause aging parents to be resistant in seeking help or even receiving help when necessary. Here are some key points to keep in mind when dealing with less than tolerant aging parents.

  • Be sensitive – criticism and judgment will put anybody on the defensive. Try to be sensitive and validating to their needs and their position regardless of your empathy.
  • Avoid power struggles and pick battles.
  • Be persistent but patient.
  • Understand the timing is everything. – Productive conversations can only happen when people are feeling calm and well-rested.
  • Seek help for yourself – financial help, emotional help, and even physical help in the form of getting the right amount of exercise and nutrition can really help bring you into a better state of mind to deal with situations as they arise.
  • Spend more time with them recreationally. Rather than spending every moment trying to convince them of where you want them to be, simply spending time with them doing what they love will put them in a better mindset.
  • Ask questions. Involve them in the conversation by asking open-ended questions and offering solutions that are a win-win for both. Unfortunately, it has to come back around to how we were treated as children or should have been treated i.e. do you want your black coat or your red coat? (regardless, you’re going to wear a coat)
  • Bring in siblings if possible. Team up without ganging up.
  • Talk to their doctor for support
  • Enlist the help of their friends.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. Not everything is going to work out perfectly so having open-ended expectations may help you deal with things better.

Protecting Aging Parents Financially

The struggle with the sandwich generation is that you might be helping financially on both ends of the spectrum; your children and your parents and that can be stressful. It helps to have a financial advisor who can balance the income versus the outgo and offer solutions and tools for a change of perspective and a better management system.

It’s important to know when to intervene with aging parents. If you notice a lot of money going out or they are donating to this or that at the drop of a hat, it may be time to start asking some poignant questions. Are you looking for warning signs? Are creditors leaving voicemails? Can you take a look at their mail to see if there’s anything of concern? Do your parents know how much cash they have on hand? Are there unpaid bills? Have they made any out-of-character purchases? Are they spending frivolously?

Just like stubborn parents, dealing with finances can be tricky and awkward as well so it helps to put them in the driver’s seat. Ask how they dealt with their aging parents at your age. Ask about financial provision when you were younger. Confirm and validate their independence yet your concern. Talk about the possibility of a power of attorney for property and finances sake.

These are difficult decisions and difficult conversations but chances are, you’ll have to have them at some point in the future. Being prepared ahead of time by having financial solutions set in place or at the very least, an advisor you can trust ask those difficult questions and help find solutions can be invaluable. If you’re currently dealing with managing your aging parents and you need help financially wondering where to go from here, feel free to give us a call at any time. We can help set up some financial guard rails so that both your children that are going into college and beyond as well as parents in their twilight years feel comfortable and protected.

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