Multigenerational households are on the rise, and caring for your child’s needs are just as important as caring for your parent’s needs under the same roof.
With an aging population being diagnosed with diminishing cognitive abilities, diabetes, arthritis, and congestive heart failure, the reliance of family to take care of them has never been more prevalent. As we live longer, the average age of a member of the “Sandwich Generation” is increasing. More are sending children off to college, only to turn around to start caring for their parents. While some men are tasked with this responsibility; more often than not, women are the family managers. Juggling working, parenting our children and then parenting our parents produces financial and emotional stress. Sick days are not only for our children, but also for our parents.
My personal situation came about through no fault of my mothers. Due to bad financial advice and guidance, and trusting so called “experts,” she found herself in a financial predicament. At the age of 38, my Mother was widowed. I grew up in England and had a wonderful childhood. I was 13, my brother 10–she had to learn very quickly how to financially manage the household and her personal affairs. As with many who divorce or lose their partners, my father handled everything, including paying the bills, balancing the checkbook and managing the investment portfolio. With help from friends and family, my mother slowly learned how to keep our small family afloat.
Jump forward a number of years, I moved to the United States, got married and gave birth to a daughter in 2001. Being a working mom, I suggested to my mother to consider living with us in the US to assist with the care of her Granddaughter– she could travel back to the UK when necessary. I wanted the person who cared for me to love my children and care for my children as much as I did. She agreed and officially retired. My mother traveled backwards and forwards to the UK several times a year. Three years upon being with us in the US, my Mother shared her dismal financial situation. She could no longer continue traveling to the UK.
To me this was a shock, as I assumed she was financially secure. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Several years after my father died, she received some very bad financial advice and decisions were made on her behalf that left her with a fraction of my father’s wealth. The so-called “advisors” had taken advantage of her and her trust.
As I had become a citizen, I asked if she would consider moving permanently to the US and live with my family. We became a “San Gen’er” Family. I recently read that the White House has noted that “An estimated 38 million Americans provide unpaid care to an aging relative, including approximately 23 million caregivers with jobs and 12 million who are also caring for their own children.”
Being a Financial Advisor with RBC Wealth Management, and using the experiences of my mother, enables me to help and assist women who have experienced the loss of a spouse, are facing or have been divorced, or have similar life experiences. I want to ensure women are not taken advantage of the way my Mother was. It is my passion and mission to educate and bring financial insight and information to those in these situations.
Many of my clients are the “Sandwich Generation,” and many have similar stories. Planning and awareness is vital to making the best of the situation. Sometimes this is forced, other times it is planned. Either way, in some situations, having your parent(s) come home to live with you puts a strain on even the best relationships. Financial strain is the worse, but armed with education and the right information, this uncomfortable strain can be lessened.
The importance of having a support structure is vital. Most women heal themselves through sharing their experiences. The Women’s Resource Center staff is trained to listen and advise on a plan. The circle of support and their outreach into the community is far reaching. Whether you are faced with a parent (living with you or not) who needs care such as with Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease or just needs frequent trips to the doctor’s office, the WRC has the means and resources to assist or refer you to a partner agency to help. I have personally used their services when dealing with my own divorce. The friendships and people I have met there, are people in my life today. You do not have to deal with this alone.
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