Sandwich Generation: Are you the Ham or the Cheese in the middle?

By April 12, 2016Articles
Sandwich Generation

Sandwich Generation

According to Statistics Canada, one in three Canadians between the ages of 45 and 64 has children under the age of 25 living with them. Of these, about 27% also provide some form of elderly care. These Canadians sandwiched between generations, aka, the Sandwich Generation.

When her 80-year old Dad was released from the hospital after a severe bout of pneumonia and couldn’t remember who she was, Barbara knew he was no longer safe living on his own. He needed care, and she needed answers:

  • I think my Dad should move into a retirement residence. What do I do next and who should I ask?
  • What will the government pay for and will my Dad qualify?
  • Can we afford the type of housing and care that I want my Dad to have?
  • What’s the difference between independent retirement living and other types of senior housing options?
  • What can I do now so I can maintain control and independence when I reach his age?

Barbara found herself sandwiched between coordinating care solutions her aging father and financially assisting her adult children, while contemplating her own longevity and retirement plan.  

In my practice as a Portfolio Manager and Financial Advisor to both women and men who find themselves in this Sandwich Generation, I make it part of my process to proactively ask questions that get them thinking about this next stage of life so that together, we can help build a Roadmap that incorporates both a Financial Plan and suitable Investment Plan to help them prepare for, and maintain, a high quality of life.  

Oftentimes, as it was for Barbara, the main purpose of this process and building these plans is to give my clients  peace of mind and confidence that they will maximize control over their choices.

While juggling priorities in the Sandwich Generation can be challenging, consider “meaty” solutions now instead of leaving “holes” in your situation like Swiss Cheese.  Specifically, I often recommend taking the following proactive steps:  

    1. Build a Circle of Trust around you early – identify and approach people whom you know and trust have your best interests in mind, to become part of your “Jedi Council” to advise and support you when making difficult decisions.  These people should not be afraid to disagree with you, as diversity of thought supports a constant state of evolution and will help you achieve more resilient solutions.  According to Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), the average Canadian spends the last decade of his or her life suffering from some form of chronic disease. Ensuring your Circle of Trust is in place now will give you peace of mind that you will be taken care of, should you be in a situation where you are no longer capable of making these choices for yourself (i.e. mental or cognitive decline).
    2. Create Financial Safety Nets – consider Living Benefits insurance like Critical Illness insurance, that pay you a cash lump sum tax-free if you suffer from a covered illness (i.e. heart attack, cancer or stroke).  Long Term Care insurance can also provide an important safety net by providing regular cash flow to pay for assistance with activities like feeding, bathing, transferring, or toileting, and can reduce anxiety about outliving your capital.  This type of coverage can act like a “forced savings plan”.
    3. Prepare a Wellness and Financial Care Binder – where do you keep your important records (i.e. Will, Powers of Attorney, Life insurance contracts, Medication and emergency contact information)?  Is it easily accessible should you or your loved ones need it?  Chances are you’re like many Canadians and you have it…somewhere… Consider preparing a Wellness and Financial Care binder that simply holds your important personal information and contacts in one place.  This can prove ideal for helping those in your Circle of Trust step right in to help you when you need it most.

I discuss each of these ideas more fully in “Smart Risk: Invest Like the Wealthy to Achieve a Work-Optional Life”, available on Amazon.ca, at Costco and local bookstores throughout BC. Learn more at www.smartriskinvesting.com.

About Maili Wong

Maili Wong is an author, a leading Canadian investment advisor and licensed portfolio manager whose fresh, modern approach to investing for her high-net-worth clients sets her apart from others in her field. Her first book Smart Risk shares per personal story of resilience as well as lessons learned and secrets gleaned in her 15 years of international investing experience.

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