Magazine article Black Enterprise

When It's Time to Have That Talk with Mom & Dad

Magazine article Black Enterprise

When It's Time to Have That Talk with Mom & Dad

Article excerpt

There's an old saying that s always stuck with me: Once a man, twice a child." It succinctly states that we are dependent on parents or guardians for our care and feeding as young children, and as we eventually reach our twilight years, we are once again reliant on others--often, our own children.

In recent years, I have increasingly noted the veracity of this maxim. I have watched friends spend huge sums of time and money caring for elderly and, in many cases, infirm parents. What has made my friends' situation all the more difficult is that they live in the sandwich generation, in which they provide for Morn and Dad's needs while maintaining their current financial status, paying for junior's college education, and socking away a few dollars for their own golden years.

If you're facing this situation, you're not alone. A 2006 PNC Financial Services study reported that 40% of respondents considered providing support to elderly family members to be an important financial goal, and 20% were concerned about the cost of caring for parents. Roughly 20% of those surveyed said they spent an average of $6,700 a year on parents or in-laws. And caregivers are getting younger: According to a 2007 survey by Fidelity Investments, one in five households headed by 25- to 42-year-olds has either started providing financial assistance to Morn and Dad or plans to do so soon. These GenXers typically spent $3,500 a year on food, utilities, healthcare, and other expenses. Of those who haven't yet offered financial assistance, 14% expect to do so eventually. To make matters worse, the average household retirement savings was a paltry $11,250--a sum that would be depleted in less than three months of paying for a semiprivate room in a nursing home at an estimated monthly cost of $5,566.

Obviously I'm not suggesting that you abandon loved ones during their golden years. …

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