Like the rest of the world, the United States’ population is aging. According to the U.S. Census, it is becoming much more common for younger people to take on the role of caregiver – and to invest significant amounts of their own money toward the care of their loved ones, often at the expense of their own financial futures, a recent MassMutual study reports.
“We often refer to the baby boomers as the sandwich generation, but Gen Y and X could be called the ‘club sandwich’ generation,” says MassMutual SpecialCare(SM) Program Director Joanne Gruszkos. “These younger adults are not only trying to get their own lives off to a sound start, perhaps starting a family, while often caring for siblings with disabilities or in some cases, spouses who are injured or disabled veterans, and anticipating caring for an aging parent in the future.”
Whether or not financial support is provided, caregiving requires time away from work that could impact the ability to earn a living. Study respondents who identified themselves as being caregivers indicated they have less time for themselves (47 percent), an increased stress or anxiety level (36 percent) and poor sleep (35 percent). Close to 20 percent of caregivers indicated a financial impact and half say their future financial and/or retirement plans are being impacted.
This outcome can be avoided with advanced planning, says MassMutual. The first step is to have an honest conversation with your family members about their own health care wishes and the plans they may have in place to carry them out. Will they be able to fund their long-term care, or will they rely on you? Having this conversation before being called upon will allow for time to put plans into place.
The next step is to get the information needed to plan. Seek trusted advisors who have special needs experience to guide you through important financial decisions. Identify the person who will care for your loved one and draft a letter of intent that will serve as a guide for that person to provide care, support and other assistance.
Plan ahead for expenses such as housing, education, work opportunities and daily transportation when determining your loved one’s lifetime financial needs. Research federal benefits provided to families affected by special needs. You may qualify.
Lastly, make sure you have beneficiary arrangements and a current will that align with your other planning strategies.
Published with permission from RISMedia.