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5 Tips for Advising Female Clients of the Sandwich Generation

It is estimated that by the year 2020, women are going to control 67 percent of U.S. wealth, according to a study by Fidelity Investments. And we know that currently the majority of primary caregivers for children and elderly parents are women.

Chances are in the next few years, you’re going to see more female clients who are working full time, taking care of their children, and taking care of their older, and possibly ailing, parents.

The National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP estimate that 66 percent of caregivers for elderly parents are female. The 2011 MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers (the most recent MetLife study available) estimates the total cost of lost wages, pension benefits and Social Security benefits for the average female caregiver is $324,044.

Dennis Stearns, CFP®, ChFC®, founder of Stearns Financial Group, said in the March 2017 Journal 10 questions interview that women in the sandwich generation need both financial and life planning from their advisers. Because not only is the financial toll great for these female caregivers, so is the toll on their health. The American Journal of Public Health reported that women who cared for parents were two times as likely to experience depression and anxiety as those who are not caregivers. According to Stearns, the best thing to do is to plan early before the sandwich caregiving crisis hits.

If your clients haven’t planned, here are some things you can do to help them:

1) Advise them to not do anything drastic. Marguerita M. Cheng, CFP®, wrote on Kiplinger.com that the best financial advice to sandwich caregivers is to not do anything drastic, like quit their jobs.

2) Encourage them not to accumulate any new debt. Go over their budget and help them figure out where they can trim expenses. Help them find and apply for services their parents may qualify for to help offset expenses.

3) Refer them to other professionals. Many other professionals can help, including counselors, tutors, or in-home health aides. Ensure any professionals you refer are thoroughly vetted.

4) Encourage them to find time to care for themselves. Mark Struthers, CFA, CFP®, wrote in the Christian Science Monitor that clients need to take time to recharge their batteries.

5) Have them enlist the help of other family members. Cheng suggested on Kiplinger.com that asking for help from siblings can help alleviate stress. “Being smart and financially sound will help decrease stress and allow families to enjoy time together,” she wrote.

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org