The term “sandwich generation” refers to people who are raising their own children while simultaneously trying to care for aging parents. If you are “sandwiched” between these two roles, the stress can seem overwhelming. Here are some tips for managing the challenge.
Have “The Talk” with Your Parents as Soon as Possible.
“The Talk” involves speaking with your parents about their wishes regarding long-term care and who will be able to make decisions on their behalf in the event of incapacity. By addressing these issues early and openly, you can then take steps to create legal documents to ensure your parents’ care will reflect their wishes (more about these documents later). Be sure to include your siblings and other members of your extended family in these conversations so that everyone is on the same page. This will help eliminate disagreements, which can quickly turn ugly, about what mom and dad would have wanted.
Determine How to Pay for Long-Term Care Before It’s Needed.
Long-term care is expensive. While costs vary based upon where you live and the level of care needed, in the U.S. the median cost for a private room in a nursing home was $8,517 per month in 2019. A one-bedroom unit in an assisted living facility was over $3,600 per month. Costs are expected to rise dramatically in the years to come. Unfortunately, Medicare will only cover skilled nursing care in a nursing home for a maximum of 100 days, and even then co-pays of more than $160 per day kick in after the first 20 days. No wonder many families exhaust their life savings within two years of a family member entering a nursing home.
The good news is that Medicaid will pay for long-term nursing home care. In fact, with proper planning (which is often called Medicaid Planning), it is possible to protect your parents’ assets while at the same time ensuring they receive the care they need. The sooner you look into this option, the better. When exploring your parents’ eligibility for Medicaid, it is important to take into account rules that may disqualify them from coverage. Medicaid has a “look back” policy that could result in penalty periods or disqualification, and missing this important piece of information could be financially devastating.
In our next post, we’ll talk about the estate planning documents every family should have.