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Your Money, Your Independence Enjoy Every Sandwicher Moment

Glenn Brown

Once David Letterman had frequent guest and a favorite musician of his, Warren Zevon, on for an entire show. Zevon, who’d disclosed terminal cancer, performed and interviewed throughout. Dave at one point asked, “Anything you know now, that I should know?” to which Zevon wittily deadpanned, “Enjoy every sandwich.”

Those raising children and helping aging parents often feel rushed and are distracted thinking about what’s next, overlooking the beauty of daily, mundane moments. 
July is National Sandwich Generation Month, celebrating a generation of people sandwiched between caring for their young children and aging parents at the same time.
I’m a Sandwicher, as are approximately 15% of Americans between ages 40-60 who face the challenges of planning, communicating and executing for 3 generations at once. 
In 2018, my parents were struggling with health to remain independent in NH after 60 years in their home. Stress rained on my mom as a caregiver and daily living/house routines began to slide. My wife, our daughters (then 5 & 3) and I lived comfortably in our Ashland home. The adults agreed on a Plan B supported by updated financial planning. Sell both homes, buy a new home for 3 generations and live as one household sharing in daily responsibilities. 
The urgency was greater than anticipated and not without challenges since our move to Holliston. Here’s some antidotes for Sandwichers:
Small talks instead of “The Talk”. Families don’t like to think about declining health and elder care, let alone discuss it. I used single topics tied to a recent story about a friend, asking what they would do. Gained small agreements, the changed topics as would address others another day to frame a mutual plan.
Bring in outside mediators. My aunt shared with my mom that time is not your friend. She encouraged the positives to take action now, rather than later when fewer options are available. Additionally, we consulted with an elder care attorney on understanding MA Health options, current trusts, POAs and proxies before making the move. 
Define their plans for wellness. Far too often, adult children tip-toe around aging conversations with parents for fear it may come across as morbid or worse, inheritance focus.  These conversations need to focus on their future ideas of wellness. What is it they foresee for a surviving spouse? When they can no longer remain independent? By having these talks when both parents are in good health, it defines their expectations and allows planning a foundation with greater flexibility. 
Your spouse’s support is critical. Incredibly fortunate to have a spouse that pushed me to see the positives and embraces bringing family in as “you’d want your daughters to treat you the same someday.” 
Through the eyes of a child. It’s not all about you, the girls show the love and benefits of learning by being around grandma and grandpa. And vice versa, as health has improved so has activity as the girls provide motivation and energy. 
Sometimes timing is everything. I couldn’t imagine the anxiety and ill-advised actions my parents would have faced on their own these past 3-plus years. 
Your parents sacrificed many things to make sure you had it better, including concealing issues to not worry you. Be open with communication and embrace change, the best ways to prevent costly unintended consequences and ensure positive lasting memories. 
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Glenn Brown is a Holliston resident and owner of PlanDynamic, LLC, Glenn is a fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ helping motivated people take control of their planning and investing, so they can balance kids, aging parents and financial independence.
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