Anyone with a living parent or parents (including in-laws) who has kids, career or is self-employed, and/or a partner is likely what I call a Jam Sandwich. What do I mean by this? There is an undeniable and inescapable shift in reality for the jam sandwich resulting from role reversal. Role reversal is the shift from being a child to having the responsibility of assisting, advising, and eventually making decisions for one’s parents beginning with one or more of their instrumental activities of daily living to acting as their power of attorney for personal care and/or finances.
As our parents age, there are aspects of their lives which will change as a result of age and time. Denial, both by the parent as well as the child is a major cause for crisis. So how do you plan to prevent the crisis? One of the simplest strategies is to first outline or classify key aspects/areas of their life that the parent(s) currently manage. The second step is to check off the areas that will be compromised in the event of a change in their physical and/or mental health. Lastly, identify who will be accountable for either delegating this responsibility, or taking it on and who is the backup in either situation.
There are many issues that will arise once an individual or individuals are identified as part of the team that will care for their parents. There are three pillars that will empower your team: legal, financial and relationships. There is no prefabricated solution –each family is unique. Some parents plan to live down south, some plan to use all their finances for themselves while others plan to leave it all to their kids, some emulate ostriches in the face of fear while others are so control oriented that delegation is virtually impossible. So the best place to start… a cold glass of milk?
Actually, the place to start is to sit with a team of specialists and work with them to create a realistic plan of action. My recommendation is to have the following coaches on your team: a general-practice lawyer, a financial planner, and case manager/social worker. Or you are welcome to attend a seminar with our team of specialists and ask questions before you start this journey. Either way, you’re part of the jam sandwich, as am I.