Still the Bread? – Generation Y Sandwich

Sandwich

The next sandwich generation.

Don’t fret, faithful readers, this week’s post was only moved to Friday.  I wanted to address an issue that many in Gen Y may know, but few may have ways of effectively addressing. Our parents are aging and requiring help, and we are quickly moving from the bread to the center of the generation sandwich.

This topic was sparked by my recent discussion with my Godfather. Since the passing of his parents, he has assumed “Bread” status in referring to his caregiver responsibilities and his own caregiver needs. At the moment, he is healthy and staying busy in his retirement, but many Boomers are declining and their Gen X and Gen Y kids are moving into caregiver roles. Considering that the world had not seen a generation the size of the Boomers, (until Gen Y) there will be an increased demand for resources and knowledge as Boomers continue to age, and in many cases, require some level of care.

As Millennials start having families, our coveted bread position is going to our children. Longer lifespans through medical advances have meant many Millennials are not blind to care needs and end of life decisions. We’ve seen our great-grandparents and grandparents decline as our parents had to balance those needs with raising us. Many institutions and nursing homes have grown over the decades as parents needed ways of supporting the next generation while giving their own parents a higher level of care. This is a financially taxing proposition and current trends have seen a rise in multi-generational homes, but level of care is still an issue. The following is more of a logistical guide, but future posts will discuss the medical issues as well.

Some areas to understand and consider:

If your parents are still living, healthy, and independent, (whether you live with them or separately) make sure that you can talk about future needs and concerns. These conversations should not be as awkward as when our parents may have tried to tell us about the birds and bees, but speak with purpose and compassion so your parents understand your concerns for their future. This is also a great time to consider long-term care insurance before they need it and before premiums grow too expensive.

Whether your parents are in good health or starting to decline make sure to have:

1. A current Last Will and Testament. It is a far too common for older people to have an outdated will (executor predeceased) or to not have one at all. Setting this up when you have your full faculties will help make sure your wishes in the event of your death, and possibly limit headaches and drama for your family.

2. Power of Attorney – Rules and regulations may vary by location, but care needs and decisions are generally reserved for the person with “POA.” In the event that there are differing opinions, a trusted person with POA can uphold your wishes and represent your legal interests if you no longer have the ability to do so.

3. A living will and DNR (If applicable to personal views) – It is vital that while you think about life after your passing that you not neglect care decisions in the event of failing health. Depending on your personal beliefs and practices, living wills and “Do Not Resuscitate” notices may alleviate undue suffering. I’ve personally seen the result of missing these documents and known people who suffered before eventually passing.

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For a generation that is characterized as being “me, me, me,” Millennials will soon step into a role that requires a great deal of selfless action. As with any generation, there will be struggles to make things work, but don’t discount us yet. Seeing the problems of the world as we grew has made many in Gen Y attuned to the common good. We’ll make an effort to support work/life balance, and perhaps find a way to care for our children and for those who brought us to the world.