Baby Boomer Bookends. The Stress of Caring For Aging Parents.

Hello there Baby Boomer Bookend Generation.  Here you are.  You’re established.  You have been self sufficient for years.  You moved out of your childhood home decades ago, you’re married with grown (or almost grown) kids, you own your home and your career is going crazy good.  You’re doing one heck of a great job.  Retirement is around the corner and you have a solid financial strategy; you’ve been building that retirement nest egg.  You’ve got a plan.  Good for you.

Baby Boomer Bookends - Stuck between kids and parents

Then it happens.  Things shift, and it has to do with your parents.  They need your help; they need your assistance.  Health and/or aging situations have bubbled up and it’s time to return the favor.  It’s time to take care of your aging parents.

What a conundrum!

Didn’t see that coming, did you?  You are now officially part of the growing bookend generation. Kids and home responsibilities on one side, parents on the other…that leaves you, bookended in the middle.  Are you feeling the squeeze?  It’s the squeeze of financial pressures of taking care of parents and your kids.  And it’s not just financial.  It will pressure your time and possibly your mentality as well.

Be calm and breathe.  Don't let the stress of taking carin for aging  parents overwhelm you!

Don’t let it squeeze you.  Bookends are vital and have a purpose.  They “support” what’s in the middle and keep those items upright.  A loose connotation, sure.  But makes sense, doesn’t it?

In this type of situation there are only two ways to look at things:

  • Negative.  It’s overwhelming, you put your head in the sand, you have no idea where to start or what to do.  It happened so suddenly…you panic.
  • Or positive.  I must take care of my parents, what’s the best way to do that and not lose myself.

One of my favorite quotes is from Wayne Dyer.  “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.  This is how I get through life when I’m feeling challenged.  This little quote has saved my sanity more times than I can count.  Say it over and over again.  Embrace it, then believe it.

Okay.  I usually have a lot to share about my state of mind and rambling thoughts on my plight of baby boomerdom.  Today, has a little different feel to it.  Today, I’m going to share with you books I have found that will help you make solid decisions on what you’re going to be facing in the coming days, weeks, months and possibly years.  I have no parent to take care of.  I wish I did.  My mother died long ago when I was quite young.  It’s easy for me to say now, but I wish I had the plight of having to take care of her.  I missed out on “taking my turn”.

My Top 5 Tips on Taking Care of an Elderly Parent.  Think About These!

It’s not just us baby boomers facing this new challenge.  It’s also our children.  The millennials.  I hope you’re out there reading this kiddos.  You’re next.  Read, research and get a plan in place now…before it’s too late.  We’re getting up there in age and it’s inevitable.  Soon, we will need you!

Tip #1:  Baby Boomers…are YOUR kids ready when it’s your turn?

Remember when you had “the talk” with your kids?  It was that sex conversation that was more embarrassing for you than for them.  I remember.  Well, it’s time to have the other talk now.  You need to get them prepared and get a plan in place on the possibility of your aging issues.  Mark my words, we don’t want to think about it, but it’s going to happen to us eventually.  We are going to need their help.

A funny little story here.  About 7 or 8 years ago, our daughter jokingly said…”if you get old and have to move in with us, I’ll clear out those bushes across the street and put your tent right there for you”.

Our new home?

It was funny at the time, but now almost 10 years later, not so funny.  My husband has gone through some serious health issues and recently had quadruple bypass surgery.  Luckily we’re still young enough that I was able to stay home and take care of him.  But what if I couldn’t?

AARP has this wonderful book that you should read with your “kid(s)”.  It’s called AARP The Other Talk: A Guide to Talking with Your Adult Children about the Rest of Your Life.  Yeah.  They really should read it.  You should read it with them.  Get on the same page.  🙂

Tip #2:  What’s your budget?

Take a look at your money situation.  Are you in good shape?  Good.  Refine your budget, now, before it’s too late.  Cut spending where ever you can so you can keep more of your money accessible for things you and family might need.  You’ve got great credit and have been spending freely on shopping, vacations, the newest tech toys, or upgrading to new cars, etc.  It will be painful, but let it go.  Your priorities have now changed.  Put those credit cards away  and set limits on your spending.  But one thing you must do?  Continue to save for your retirement.

Tip #3:  Are you fiscally fit?

Are you fiscally fit?

You think you’re doing great.  You’re in a good spot financially.  However, now is also a great time to sit down with your financial advisor and review your portfolios and adjust your priorities as necessary.  Do you have adequate personal insurance?  Do you have ready cash?  Are your investments working as hard as they could be?  Doing this small step will help you assess any adjustments that might need to be made.  Easy, right?  Just getting started is the hard part.  Get ‘er done.

Tip #4:  Do you have a plan for elder care?  Have you thought about the expenses?

The skyrocketing costs of taking care of your parents could leave you breathless.  Do you know what’s all entailed in this new endeavor?  I thought of these few things off the top of my head…

  • What about paid caregivers?  Expensive.  You know most health insurance sucks at best, and most costs will be left over as “out of pocket” pay.  Medical bills are devastating.  I know first hand.  Like I said, paid caregivers were so expensive that I had to take time off from work (without pay – it was cheaper) to take care of my husband after surgery.
  • What about hospital bills or nursing facilities?  Expensive.
  • All those medications.  Expensive.  I now use for my husbands medications.  It saves us almost 80% on his prescription costs.  LIFE SAVER!  It’s free to signup and was cheaper than going through my insurance.  Crazy, right?
  • Help your elder parents look for alternate medical care they might qualify for.  Start the process now, it can be lengthy.

Tip #5:  Do you have siblings or other family members who can help out?

This is huge!  It takes a village to raise that parent.  Everyone can chip in and buy your parents long-term insurance.  You can “pass the baton” and take turns taking care.  Everyone can pool a percentage of finances to help with things like groceries (if necessary), medications, clothing, utility bills…what ever they might need.  It’s a great way to coordinate efforts together.  What a great way to see each other…instead of at the funeral, right?  Crude, but true.

This is only the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve only covered a little bit of this today.  There are many more important considerations.  Why such a serious article from me?  I guess I’m feeling rather nostalgic lately.

In 1979, my mother had become ill shortly before Christmas and wasn’t getting any better.  I took my mother to the hospital on Christmas Day.  She was wearing the red Santa robe I’d given her as a present.  She never came home from the hospital.  She passed away on April 21st 1980.  I had just left my teen years and felt sad, abandoned, alone and very angry.  I was unprepared.  I was just a kid and had no one to help me.

At my young age I had to call family members, find paperwork, deal with her job, get an attorney and figure out the bills.  Then there was the funeral I had to plan.  Where did I start?  Where did I go?  How was I paying for this and who could help me?  It was tragic.

This is why I’m so adamant that you have a plan in place.  Don’t leave tragedy hanging out there for all to see.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself!

This should go without saying.  Please don’t forget about yourself.  Everyone needs you.  YOU…need you.  Take care.

Like I said, I don’t have an aging parent, but I love to research and I love to read.  And more importantly, I know it’s best to always have a plan.  Throughout this blog, I have chosen some books I’d like to share with you.  I was picky.  I read the reviews and felt and understood the comments from people who had purchased these books.  I usually only recommend what I own and what I have read…but this is special.  I did the research for you, so you don’t have to.  You’ll have enough on your plate and this is MY way of helping you.

Until next time…

Sheila Signature

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