4 Ways for the Sandwich Generation to Help Their Parents

Your parents must be healthy enough to qualify.

Discuss long-term-care insurance

Your parents must be healthy enough to qualify. Some adult children pay their parents’ premiums to help protect their own savings. And consider buying insurance for yourself to protect your assets and those of your children.

Investigate adult day care

Instead of quitting your job to provide care for your parents, consider enrolling them in an adult day-care program while you work, recommends gerontologist Sandra Timmermann. The average adult day-care program costs $67 per day, compared with $21 per hour for a home health aide ($168 for an eight-hour day) or $229 a day for a private room in a nursing home, according to the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

Take advantage of tax breaks

If your parents live with you more than half the year and you pay for them to attend an adult day-care program -- or pay for someone to care for them at home so you can work -- you may be able to pay for those expenses with tax-free money. You may be able to contribute up to $5,000 per year to your employer’s dependent-care flexible spending account or claim the dependent-care credit on your tax return, which is worth 20% of the cost of care, up to $3,000 for one dependent or $6,000 for two.

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Ask about care-giving benefits at work

Some large employers offer elder-care service locators or other care-giving support as an employee benefit. And you can find out if your parents are eligible for federal, state and other benefits through www.benefitscheckup.org (opens in new tab).

Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.