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Consider this dilemma. You’re on your way to your daughter’s basketball game—the one she’s been talking about for weeks and counting on you to attend—when an urgent call comes in from your father. He hasn’t been feeling well and would really like it if you would accompany him to visit his doctor. Now.

Did You Know?

47% of Americans in their 40s and 50s have a parent older than 65 and are raising or financially supporting a child.

If you’ve found yourself stuck in a scenario like this, you’re likely to be a member of the “sandwich generation,” named for folks caring for both their kids and their parents. Here are some tips for managing the responsibilities.

Have an Open Conversation If you’re taking on a caregiver’s role for your aging parents, have an upfront conversation about the changes. It’s important to know:

  • Where your parents desire to live
  • Details of a living will
  • Considerations for assigning power of attorney
  • Information about the family’s finances

 

If your parents move into your home, discuss how they’ll contribute—both financially and in the household. In some cases, you may be eligible for a tax break from the IRS for what you do for your adult kids and parents. Children still in school can be claimed as dependents until the age of 24 (19 if they’re not in school), and it’s possible to deduct the expenses of daytime care and other services your parents may need if they live with you at least half the year. Consult with your local tax or financial professional to determine if you qualify for these tax breaks.

Take Care of Yourself Given all the duties those in the strained sandwich generation have, it’s no surprise that a study found that they are less likely to exercise, check food labels or wear seat belts than their peers who don’t have the same responsibilities. But you can’t be a good caregiver if you’re not taking care of yourself. Make time to clear your head—studies suggest that activities like meditation can help with anxiety and depression.

Find Power in Numbers Don’t try to handle the medical, financial and emotional needs of elderly parents alone. If you have siblings, enlist their help, whether they live nearby or not.

If your siblings are local, split caregiving duties, such as transportation to medical appointments. When it comes to difficult decisions, like moving a parent to another home, collaboration can be key.

Embrace Your Community Look to experts in your area to help guide your decisions, especially if you need assistance with the logistical and financial burdens. Check your local hospital for caregiver support groups, where you have the opportunity to meet with medical experts and other caregivers. You can also look online for resources and user-generated advice.