3 Ways to get over guilt - The Sandwich Generation

My dilemma: telemetry ward this Memorial Day weekend, or the Beach with my husband and kids!
It truly is a tug of war on my emotions. I am dead smack in the middle of juggling my company, my husband, and my 3 kids while caring for 2 sets of elderly parents.

My Dad just fell, again, for the 5th time in the last 18 months. Each time my step Mom called 911. He’s stable but still in the hospital (out-of-town … requiring an airplane flight).

Do I drop everything, pay an expensive flight, and leave my kids and husband just to sit by his side in the hospital? Yes I want to be with my Dad, but honestly, I would prefer to go up with the whole family once he’s out of the hospital. Do I once again leave my husband (who has incredibly understood the last 3 times I dropped everything to sit by my Dad’s bedside) and sit for hours just reading a book, watching my Dad snooze in-and-out.

I am NOT alone. Nearly 10 million baby boomers are now raising kids or supporting an adult child while giving a financial hand to an aging parent, the Pew Research Center reports.

Are you “doing enough” to repay your parents for their sacrifices which they made while raising you?

Are you frustrated caring for 2 (sometimes 3) sets of elderly parents as they begin to forget things, fall, and get dependant on you?

Are you failing with your own children and husband by taking precious time away from your family to care for your parents?

Have you, TODAY, expressed your appreciation to your parents, and have you mustered enough courage to TELL THEM how special they are?

For all you baby boomers out there who have elderly/aging parent, my advice to you are this:

#1. Communicate your love: Take time to call (it only takes 3 minutes) and every word you offer will be cherished. Take time to send birthday cards and holiday cards - don't rely on the Internet. (I know it costs a ridiculously high $0.41 cents – but this postal rate rape is for another blog). Take the time to say, “I love you Mom.” “I love you Dad

#2. Plan, Plan, and Plan: Talk to your parents and find out ALL the details of their estate and health insurance policies. Do they have long term care policies, have they put money aside for at-home help, nursing home care, nurses aids, shopping assistants. Will the entire burden fall on your family if your parents are not prepared. What are your parents last wishes, how they want to be buried, what type of funeral arrangements and services they want. Do YOU have POWER OF ATTORNEY (financially and healthcare related) authorizing you to make medical decisions; and a living will outlining their wishes if life-sustaining medical care is needed.

#3. Exercise, take yoga, eat right and make yourself number one in importance.
Because too many people depend on YOU. Get a message, meditate, and go for a walk. TAKE YOUR VITIMINS. Get plenty of sleep. Get plenty of sex. It’s so important not to run yourself down, because then you will be of no use to your kids, your spouse, or your aging parents.

Walecia Konrad recently published an article in Money Magizine that listed many resources to help you with the Sandwich Generation problems.

Eldercare locator . This site, sponsored by the U.S. Administration on Aging, links you to the agency on aging closest to your parents' home; that office, in turn, directs you to a mother lode of local senior services. Also check out the Caregiver Resource Room (click first on Resources on the home page) for links to many caregiver tip sheets, including two focusing on finances. eldercare.gov

Check available benefits: National Council on Aging Go here to find out which federal, state and local benefits your parents qualify for. You'll be surprised at the number of programs out there - including those providing assistance with health-care and utility costs, as well as property tax relief - many available to middle-class families. benefitscheckup.org

Then check again: Government benefits you can also screen here for government benefits eligibility and get contact info for the programs you're interested in. It's best to fill out the questionnaires on both sites to ensure that you're not missing anything. govbenefits.gov

Medicare done better: Medicare This government site for people who qualify for Medicare is easier to navigate and more useful than the official site of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (cms.hhs.gov). Particularly helpful: an interactive tool for comparing Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, and tips for lowering costs in the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole. medicare.gov

Hired help
Find your navigator: Natl. Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers Go here for referrals to elder-care pros who can assess your parents' medical needs and finances and then identify local programs and services to meet those needs. Fees range between $50 and $200 an hour, and the initial assessment can cost as much as $300. caremanager.org

Locate a white knight: National Association of Social Workers At this site you can find social workers who specialize in geriatrics. socialworkers.org

Get daytime help: National Adult Day Services Association Search on this site for adult day care in your area. Click on Find an Adult Day Service, and then enter your city and state information. nadsa.org

Hire a good lawyer: National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Look up the attorneys near your parents who specialize in elderly issues, including estate planning, powers of attorney, health proxies and Medicaid eligibility. Federal and state government rules change constantly, meaning the books and Web sites you read on these topics may be outdated. naela.com

Their money
Hire a money minder: American Association of Daily Money Managers Especially helpful if you live far from your parents, a daily money manager will pay bills, make deposits, process insurance claims and handle other financial tasks that Mom and Dad may no longer be up to doing. Use this site to locate a pro in your parents' area. aadmm.com

Tap their home equity: Reverse Mortgages Reverse mortgages can allow cash-strapped older people to borrow against the equity in their home so they can afford to keep living there. This section of the AARP site offers a comprehensive guide to lenders, fees, pitfalls and other specifics. aarp.org/money/revmort

Free tax help: Tax counseling for the Elderly Your parent can get free income tax preparation and advice from an army of volunteers working for the IRS' Tax Counseling for the Elderly program. Find counselors near your parents using the locator function on the AARP site or check with your local library, senior center or IRS office. The IRS (800-829-1040) AARP (887-227-7669)

Their home
Weigh the options: CarePlanner This interactive tool, sponsored by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, can help you and your parent choose between different living options. careplanner.org

Nursing-home advice: Am. Health Care Association and Natl. Center for Assisted Living You'll get comprehensive advice and information here to help your parent choose and pay for a nursing home or an assisted-living center. longtermcareliving.com

More nursing-home tips: Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living This nonprofit advocates for high-quality assisted-living facilities and for the rights of residents. There's solid information on their site about how to choose a good assisted-living center. ccal.org

Seek out on-site care: Assisted Living Federation of America This site, sponsored by the industry's trade association, allows you to search for assisted-living centers by area and operating company. Click on Information Seeker, then on Finding a Residence. alfa.org

Hire help at home: National Association for Home Care & Hospice When your parents are frail but determined to stay in their own home, home health care can be the answer. This site explains the different types of care available and provides an agency locator to help you find services near your parents. nahc.org

Once again, the above links and sources of reference were By Walecia Konrad of Money Magizine. A magazine which I personally feel consistanly has well written and very informative information.

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Great read. I think I'll subscribe to this as it has some good info! Thanks. I do apppreciate the blog :-)

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