WTOP Interview: Financial Sanity for the Sandwich Generation
Shawn Anderson: It is 5:11. About 1 in 7 middle-aged adults in the U.S. is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child. Members of this so-called sandwich generation can find both their time and finances squeezed by the demands of caring for loved ones.
Hillary Howard: Here to help with the sandwich generation, financials, and your financial sanity; Dawn Doebler, co-founder of Her Wealth and Senior Wealth Advisor for The Colony Group in Bethesda. Good to see you, Dawn!
Dawn Doebler: Hi!
Hillary: You know, it’s emotionally devastating for people to take care of their kids and their parents, but the financial strain is real, and sometimes it can be debilitating. How do you deal with it?
Dawn: Well, that’s right Hilary. This is a growing issue for many of us in the middle age and in fact this article was inspired by my co-author, who’s one of our advisors facing the challenges of being in the sandwich generation. And interestingly, an AARP study just showed that about one-quarter of all unpaid caregivers are actually millennials. So, it’s affecting them too. And of course this happens to both men and women, but what we know from our Her Wealth research, is 66% of caregivers are women. And that means women are risking more in lost wages and benefits, so our article makes some suggestions. And the first suggestion is actually harder than it sounds and that’s to take care of yourself. This is really a stressful time and often overwhelming and it’s common to feel guilty about not spending enough time with either your aging parents or your kids, especially if you’re also working. So, make sure you set aside some time to distress.
And related to this, many companies are now recognizing the stress on the sandwich generation, and they’re responding by offering benefits, such as referral services and options for more flexible hours. So, don’t be shy about sharing your challenges and asking whether there are benefits available to you through your employer.
Shawn: Obviously, dealing with aging parents can be difficult and so what should we be thinking about if faced with the prospect of stepping in to take care of them?
Dawn: Well, in a prior article, we mentioned the importance of trying to put yourself in your parent’s shoes. It really can be scary to experience the myriad of things that occur in the aging process. From a plot practical standpoint, one of the best things to do is our second idea, which is to help your parents get organized. If they haven’t already done so, help organize their financial and estate planning documents, they should share the documents with each other. And let me say here, there are really far too many people, especially women who have no idea what would happen to them if their spouse passed away. And no one should be living with the stress of not knowing their financial picture.
And we also recognize that discussing finances is difficult for many families, so we give you a list in the article of some resources; we have a book recommendation and a link to an article about how to have these challenging family meetings to discuss aging with your parents.
Hillary: Any final words of advice for folks?
Dawn: Well, I think one of the challenges for everyone, is really to get the right kind of help and we have some ideas in the article there. In the end, successfully navigating really is about achieving the balance, it’s about finding the right mix of meeting the obligations that you have to those that you love, but not neglecting the reality of your own needs to prepare for retirement and for aging.