Care of the Elderly

Living in the "sandwich generation"

Members of the baby boom generation, born between 1945 and 1960, are coping with a unique situation - medical and societal advances mean that many adults are living well into their 80s and 90s. Meanwhile, increasing pressure for an advanced education leaves many 20-somethings living at home with their parents as they complete school. This leaves the baby boom generation sandwiched between providing for their children while simultaneously shelling out funds to support their aging parents.

The Cost of Elderly Care

The elderly are living longer, many surpassing the age their savings are set to cover. The cost of meeting the personal, medical and social needs of the skyrocketing elderly population can quickly deplete both your pocketbook and your sanity.

Costs for the elderly include medical care, housing and incidentals such as travel and telephone bills. Many boomers run the risk of losing their own savings to care for their aging parents. Recent surveys show that almost three quarters of the elderly in the U.S. are cared for solely by friends and relatives.

Aside from the monetary cost, these caregivers often do not factor in the personal costs they will bear, such as the time, energy and personal sacrifices needed to look after their loved ones.

What to Do

Here are some tips for those facing the sandwich dilemma:

  • Plan ahead. Not only will you need a plan for saving money, but also consider the legal issues such as power of attorney should your parents become unable to make their own decisions.
  • Look after number one. You are useless to your ailing parent if you are overtired or stressed. Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep so you can provide the care they need without burning out.
  • Get help. Plenty of programs are available to assist the elderly, many at a reduced or no cost. From specialized mobility equipment to bridge clubs, seeking out these groups will reduce your costs and effort immensely.

Caring for your parents is an opportunity to thank them for all they have done in raising you. Adequate planning and preparation will ensure they are well equipped to enjoy their (many) golden years, and you'll be able to make the most of the time you spend with them without worry and anxiety.