Martha and Dave are in their mid-50’s and they make up the middle section of the sandwich generation. Dave’s father lives with them and his mother is in a nearby assisted living facility. They have a daughter in high school and a 26-year-old son who recently moved back home when he got laid off from his first post-college job. Baby boomers like Martha and Dave are giving up to 40 hours a week of unpaid care for elderly parents while balancing child-rearing and full-time jobs. How can they make this work?

Let’s look at the first part of the sandwich, your children. Your first priority is supporting your younger children and their educational goals. When it comes to adult children living at home, it’s OK for a short time, but to support them when they are capable of working or finding their own way is not helpful in the long run. You may hinder their financial growth and maturity.

Regarding the next piece, your older parents, it’s important to ask them the hard financial questions. Parents may be reticent to discuss finances but you need to know what investment and long-term care plans they have in place. So be patient. In the long run they will be glad you helped and that you understand their financial affairs fully — the good, the bad and the ugly. Parents don’t want to be a burden and by taking action now you can help secure their future care. This step can strengthen the entire family’s financial future and can extend your parents’ legacy which is often a concern for them.

And last but certainly not least, you also need to take care of your own financial future. What are the instructions you receive before the plane takes off? Put on your life support mask first, then you can help others with theirs? Same thing applies here. Get your own financial house in order first, by asking what are our retirement, investment and long-term care plans? Make sure you’ve taken care of those first. This is not being selfish. In fact, it may be the most selfless thing you do for your family’s financial legacy.

• Cynthia K. Fick is founder of Financial Life Planners LLC in Ahwatukee. Reach her at (480) 346-4073 or

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