Many boomers are welcoming (if that’s the right word) their 20- and 30-something children back home, sacrificing their own financial security and emotional health to support the kids. Others carry the burden of caring for elderly parents who can no longer look after themselves or have provided inadequately for their old age.

As appropriate as the principle of “Put on your own oxygen mask first” may be, you risk being thought cold, heartless, and completely out of touch with your clients’ values and priorities if you urge them to put their own interests foremost.

Empathetic listening is a crucial first step. Hear what concerns them, and see if they’re willing to consider changes that might free up more time, energy, and money. Reassure them that they’re not alone. You could describe similar situations where making a few changes allowed other clients to take better care of their financial security.

If you build enough trust, you may be able to help these clients realize that overgiving to their parents may leave them burdening their own children later on, and that prolonging their kids’ dependency is unlikely to serve anyone well.

This is a slow, delicate process, with powerful emotions and needs underpinning boomers’ actions. But if you proceed sensitively and cautiously, perhaps with the collaboration of a therapist, you may be able to create a little breathing space in your clients’ squeezed financial and emotional lives.