March 31, 2010

How to Survive in the Sandwich Generation

The sandwich generation—those of you who are supporting your children as well as your aging parents—face unique challenges in caretaking and estate planning. You can survive the challenges of supporting your children while keeping a watchful eye on your parents, however, with a little help. Here’s how.

1. Talk It Out The sooner you open up a discussion about future planning, the better. Teach your children about money management and talk to your parents about their plans.

Money talk can make just about anyone squirm, but when it’s done in a nonjudgmental, conversational fashion, it’s easier to handle. It might be wise to include a financial advisor and/or attorney in the conversation.

Keep in mind that it is easier to talk about financial issues and estate planning before a financial crisis or health care issue occurs. 2. Take Advantage of Resources Federal, state and local agencies, as well as nongovernmental businesses, offer a wide range of services and information for the elderly and their caretakers. (See “Find a Helping Hand” below for details.) Many companies specialize in assisting seniors with just about everything, including tax counseling, health care options and adult day care. 3. Take Time for Yourself Don’t sacrifice your own health and drain your resources in an attempt to help your parents or children. You’re no good to them if you’re exhausted and broke. 4. Make a Plan Be sure your parents (and you) set up estate plans, including a will. Other important aspects to consider include trusts, durable powers of attorney, health care proxies and living wills.

Don’t forget to include causes you care about in your plans. Charitable donations not only benefit organizations like Lewis & Clark, but they also allow you to leave a legacy. 5. Always Express Your Love Even when times are tough, it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to say “I love you.” Call, mail, or visit your parents and children. Even the smallest act of kindness makes a huge impact on the recipient.

One of the best ways to express your love is to help your parents and children feel secure in their future, an accomplishment that is possible by opening up a conversation, working on a plan together and taking advantage of the available resources. If Lewis & Clark is included in your estate plans, please let us know so we can thank you appropriately. For more information or if you have questions, contact Sharon Bosserman-Benson for the Undergraduate or the Graduate School at 503-768-7911, 800-753-9292, or, or the Law School development office at 503-768-6901 or Find a Helping Hand Here are some resources to help you care for aging parents or other elderly or ailing family members.

  • Eldercare Locator: Operated by the U.S. Administration on Aging to provide older adults or caregivers with community resources. Visit the Web site at or call (800) 677-1116.
  • AARP: Offers a wealth of information at
  • National Council on Aging: Resource topics include healthy aging, living independently and support for caregivers at
  • National Association of Social Workers: Links to social workers in your community, plus information on advance care planning, aging and how social workers can help at