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Thursday, October 05, 2006

The "Senior Sandwich"

The "Senior Sandwich" generation refers to persons over 60 years old and who face costs related to 1) college tuition for thier kids, 2) retirement for themselves, and 3) at-home or nursing home care for thier parents, all at once.

The fact that nearly 50% of people in thier 60's today have at least one parent still living is a far cry from the near 10% at the beginning of last century. This means that these families are facing concerns and problems that no generation before them have had to face. The bottom line can be a crushing financial burden.

Jean Chatzky of Money Magazine suggests in "Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Retire" that if you're already in your 60's you might plan to work a little longer, live a little leaner, and encourage your kids to study hard and qualify for merit aid. She goes on to sugges that if you are planning ahead in your 40's or 50's you're in a better spot, especially if you focus on the following:

1) Fit kids into your budget. When you make projections about your annual spending in your retirement years, be sure to plan for the possibility that one of your kids moves back home! This can increase food, utilities, and other costs.

2) Ask your parents hard questions. Understanding what sort of assets your parents have, and what type of lifestyle they wish to live is important. Ask them the following: How expensive a lifestyle do they want to live for the rest of thier life? Where do they want to live, and in what kind of home? What sort of health-care and lifesaving measures do they want to have taken, if needed? Who do they want to put legally in charge of carrying out all of these wishes?

3) Consider insurance. Long term care is very expensive. Buying long term care insurance may bring a great deal of financial secuirty, and personal comfort.

4) Look out for No.1. Too often those in the "sandwich generation" put thier own needs last. If you ruin yourself financially (by neglecting your own needs) at this point to take care of those around you, you'll only be setting up your children to face these difficulties later.

If you are a card-carrying member of the "sandwich generation" and you'd like to learn more about how to help implement a plan to make sure you and your family members are taken care of personally, legally, and financially, feel free to contact an elder law lawyer for assistance.
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