America is aging and people are living longer than ever before. Such conditions have given rise to what’s known as the “sandwicher” phenomenon.
Sandwichers are typically Baby Boomers with children living at home, who also manage or provide for their parents’ care as well.
Sandwichers are already stretched thin, given their numerous responsibilities at home and at work. A growing segment of the population, however, must take on the added responsibility of caring for one or both of their elderly parents. These individuals find themselves “sandwiched” between family obligations.
Here is a common example:
Bill and Sandy are in their late fifties with two teenage children. Sandy’s mother Joan, fell and broke her hip in early 2021. While she was recuperating in a hospital near her home, she suffered the first, in what turned out to be, a long series of mini-strokes.
Because the level of care she needed was greater than before her mini-strokes, Bill and Sandy decided it would be best if she came to stay with them and their two children. She arrived in April 2021. Before the month was over, Joan had tried to do too much without assistance (despite Sandy’s insistence that she ring a bell by her bed whenever she needed something) and had fallen and broken her other hip.
Her health continued it’s downward spiral, and sadly, she died on Christmas Eve in 2021. While Sandy never regretted for one moment bringing Joan into her home, her stay was stressful and emotionally draining. They delt with a variety of issues individuals face as they age, and their health begins to fail. They become familiar with the Medicare and Medicaid programs (which can be daunting process, at best) estate planning and health care planning. They also looked into nursing homes and learned how difficult it is to find the right one, get the best care their and pay for it without going broke. It really opened Bill and Sandy’s eyes. Growing old is hard enough without having to deal with all of the peripheral matters. I can’t imagine what Joan would have had to go through without help from her children.
This example is typical of cases I have seen for the past thirty-one years. When entering into a situation where a parent moves in with the child or a child moves in with a parent, certain legal, health care, financial and tax issues must be addressed. These issues should be addressed as soon as a parent moves in. A comprehensive plan should be designed, taking into consideration immediate and future needs of the parent and the family.
Besides experienced Elder Law attorneys, sandwichers should seek out other assistance form financial planners, clergy, counselors, adult day care centers, geriatric care managers and others.