How do we plan with the complexities of everyday life, while also being part of the “sandwich generation?” This question was posed by moderator Irma Quinonez to panelists on February 9 at Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County’s Wake Up to Aging series on Financial Planning Options.
The “sandwich generation” – the term coined to describe people who are of an age where they are both taking care of an elderly loved one and children at the same time – faces new challenges that their predecessors did not, namely how do they plan for their retirement and aging while having to also financially support their aging parent’s needs?
Panelists included Lisa Clarke, a financial professional; Marilyn Brown Ross, a reverse mortgage specialist; and Nancy Williamson, an estate planning attorney. They educated participants on the available options for financing care in later years.
The top issues and concerns that seniors and families have, according to the panelists, were:
- How to make my money last – what if I outlive my money?
- What government benefits do we have access to as we age?
- How do we stay in our home as we age and have less access to cash?
Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:
• To not outlive your money you need a financial plan that includes savings but also how to manage what assets you may have. It’s better to start planning earlier in life while you have greater earning potential.
• Government entitlement programs can help support aging needs – the Veterans Aid and Attendance benefit provides a tax free monthly pension, but you must be a U.S. Veteran who served during an official period of conflict.
• A reverse mortgage is a wonderful product for the right person. It allows a person to use their home equity as cash to stay in their primary residence as they age. It can pay off a mortgage, give extra money for expenses, and in general, make for a more enjoyable retirement. The benefit depends on age, property value, interest rate and, if there is a mortgage, the balance.
• Having a formal plan of how to manage your health and assets should a person suffer incapacity or death (otherwise known as an estate plan) is recommended. In the event you are incapacitated (coma, Alzheimer’s) you have agents in place to do things on your behalf. The one thing you should have in place, if nothing else is an Advanced Health Care Directive.
The answer to the initial question posed by the moderator was never really quite answered throughout the discussion. The primary reason for this is that currently we do not have the appropriate systems in place (nationally, statewide, or locally) to alleviate the financial responsibilities of caregivers and support for our aging loved ones as they live longer.
On March 17, we will tackle this issue at our “Wake Up to Aging: Are We Ready for 2030?” seminar. Keynote speaker, Howard Gleckman of the Urban Institute will lead us in a discussion of key challenges and explore community and system–level solutions that could impact the future of senior services and prepare Santa Clara County and California to better meet the needs of seniors and those who care for them. We invite everyone interested in making a difference for seniors to join us from 9:30 a.m. to Noon at Bascom Community Center.
Visit http://catholiccharitiesscc.org/events/wake-aging-are-we-ready-2030 to learn more.