It’s late at night, your kids started your day early and now it is late at night, you are alone and driving home from your mother’s home. You’re tired, but still have a couple miles to go. At last, you’re about a half mile from home. You relax and fall asleep at the wheel. You go off the road waking up when you’re heading for the ravine. You cannot stop or control your car. The car finally stops. Your back hurts; you’re tingling front the chest down. Your feeling starts to come back as you reach for your phone. Thank God, your phone is in the carrier and did not end up on the passenger floorboard. You call 911 for help.
The surgeons tell you that you will most likely recover well, but have a 6 – 12 month road to recovery and you will not drive for 3 months. You will need someone with you most of the first month or two. Finally, after a week, you head home from the hospital.
This actual incident brings up several issues. First, caregiving for your children and parents is tough and time consuming. It is wise to get help if possible. Do not stretch yourself this thin. This person’s life is changed forever and she will be limited in the care she can give for her children and parents.
Secondly, it is said: 87% of people fail to plan. If this accident was worse, who would care for the children? Would the money available be enough to keep the family home? What will your parents do? Is their planning in place? Would this event change their planning?
All of these questions are real and controllable if a person does their legal, financial and life planning. Some might think – this couldn’t happen to me. Well, the Society of Actuaries states the odds of a 35 year old having a disability that lasts three months or longer is 41%,. If you cannot work, how can you replace your paycheck? Who is going to help with your children and your parents?
There may be some good answers to your questions. First, your employer’s group insurance plan may include disability coverage (DI). You may wish to consider a personal disability insurance plan. Legally, is your will up to date? Are your advance directives – powers of attorney in place?
A life changing event could also change your parent’s planning. Are you their only power of attorney? Has a successor been named in the POA document?
Coordinating care for your children and parents simultaneously is not easy. What can you do to manage this? Three words of advice: Plan, Plan and Plan. Legal, financial, residential, mental and physical healthcare elements must be addressed prior to a crisis. A sandwich generationer should guide their parent through these issues and the primary issue of safety, while being careful not to take all control away from a parent. Once again, it is important to start talking, making suggestions and guiding early, do not wait for a crisis.