The Sandwich Generation: To Give or Not to Give Our Parents Money

What is the best way to take care of our parents? Should we give them money? Buy them insurance (health, life, accident)? Do we encourage them to start saving on retirement funds and other products?

What if we have children to take care of? How do we financially attend to our own parents? What is the best solution?

“The best thing a child can do for her parents is to just love them,” says Mona Sabalones Gonzalez, a freelance writer.

To Pepsi Yumul, writer/social media manager in her mid- 40s, “It means providing them with a maid, cook, or driver, and giving them money to go out from time to time to shop or just to have fun.”

“Although we’re not rich, we enjoy doing things together that money can’t buy,” she says “Having your own family is no excuse to alienate your elderly parents from your life. The best way to take care of them is to ensure they are happy, healthy and never lonely.”

Pepsi’s mom told her that most senior citizens die -- not just because of neglect, illness, or lack of money -- but of loneliness. “The joy that grandchildren and children bring to them is priceless.”

In the Philippines, it is fairly common and acceptable for grandparents to take care of their grandchildren, especially if parents of their grandchildren work the entire day.

Single parent Hyde Canes, who works in a bank, says: “I can only give my mother the love, care and attention she needs, especially now that she is at the twilight of her life. I try to make her laugh with my funny experiences. I did just that this morning and she laughed so hard!”

Hyde makes it a point to buy her mother’s favorite food and beauty products. “Most of all, we need to let them feel they are needed, especially by their children.”

Maeyet Lapena of De La Salle University in Manila makes her point: “ Have as many conversations with them. Daily, if possible. Ask about themselves, their lives as young children or teenagers, as young adults, parents, as grandparents. There are many topics of conversation with them!”

Edison Ong, an insurance advisor for life, life with investment, non-life and health/medical, shares his personal circumstances to illustrate how to take care of parents well: “My sister, brother and I wear the hat of caregiver 24/7 to our 97-year old father. He had never been confined to a hospital until a transient stroke on Black Saturday this year. We accompany him in his regular medical check-ups. I serve as his aide. Since he is a super senior citizen with dwindling savings, we pool our funds for his treatments. We also have resorted to borrowing since our dad has no life insurance, medical nor health insurance. No pension too. No material possessions. His only wealth is his children. This is typical of most Filipinos and Tsinoys (Chinese-Filipinos), especially of his and our generation.

“In today’s Internet era, the landscape has totally changed. Our generation – the baby boomers - cannot expect our children / our parent’s grandchildren to be our caregivers. Their values and philosophy towards family finance are more for self and self-survival first.”

Thus, Edison stresses the need for insurance. “If your parents are between 45 - 55 and have insufficient savings and no insurance, I suggest they get life insurance such as the term-life or term-variable universal life types. The coverage or face amount is high and the annual premium is reasonably low.”

He also advises going for the double-life strategy, specially made for parents who are no longer “insurable. “I urge you to encourage your parents to start building (not just saving!) their retirement funds. A double life strategy can address your concern regarding attending to financial support for both children and parents,” he concluded.

The key word is “insurance.” It serves as protection, whether our kids will someday choose to care for us or not.

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