Care-Giving During Retirement
Can You Afford to Take Care of Your Parents?
According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, it is now common for people in their 60s and 70s to be caring for a parent in their 90s or older. 10% of adults between the ages of 60 and 69 with living parents, also provide care-giving support.1
If you haven’t considered this contingency, ask yourself:
Does my retirement plan include caregiving for a parent? Should it?
Caring For Elderly Parents in Retirement
During the early years of your retirement, your parents may need help with shopping, preparing meals, driving, attending doctor’s appointments, lawn care and basic household tasks. You may provide help yourself, or hire a local services for your parents. Before choosing a service to care for elderly parents, speak with them about whether they can afford to cover the expenses for these services. If not, you might consider giving them a monthly allowance for various services, to prevent over-spending and take some of the burden off of you.
Advanced Age May Require Home Health
During later years, parents may need more hands-on assistance, in the form of a home health aide. This may include helping them get in and out of a car, helping them walk or steer a wheelchair, attending to their needs when they wake up at night or even turning them in bed to prevent bedsores. One way to obtain these basic needs for the elderly, is through a 24-hour assisted care facility. However, if your parents insist on living at home, it’s important to consider how to obtain this type of assistance. Not to mention, how to pay for these services.
One recommendation is to hire a person (or a local service) that specializes in home care during the early years. While seniors are less likely to need as much assistance early on, it can help them get used to having someone around the house and to trusting the sources that are available. At some point, many of us will also need a hospice service, which also includes home health services. Although hospice has been a target of political pundits, it is a service that exists to ease the pain of the elderly, when they are in their last 6 months of life.
Even if you have the time to serve as the primary caregiver for your parents, it’s still important to consider contingency plans. The older you get, the more chance that you or your spouse may have your own health problems. You may not always be physically able to assist your parents. Even if you are able to help them, it’s a good idea to have backup resources for an emergency and to give yourself a break, once in a while. Make sure to consider your own needs, goals and resources.
When You Are a Caregiver, You Have Fewer Social Opportunities
It isn’t uncommon to become a little isolated after you leave the workplace. Your social circle may grow smaller, and it may require more effort to get out and see friends. If you also provide care for a parent, opportunities for social interaction with your own peers may be further reduced.
Fewer Travel and Vacation Days
If your parent, your spouse or another family member experiences health problems, this can lead to increased mental and emotional distress for you. Suddenly, retirement can become far more exhausting than your previous career. The burdens of care-giving can take a toll on hard-earned savings that you set aside for your own retirement. Also, if you are providing day-to-day care for your parents or in-laws, you may not have the ability to travel, or visit your own children and grandchildren.
The following resources may help you to find care-givers, ensuring help for sick and elderly relatives:2
- Local chapters of Area Agencies on Aging
- Caregiver Action Network
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- National Alliance for Caregiving
- Parenting Our Parents
Sometimes, Our Parents Live Longer Than Us
Finally, it’s important to consider the possibility that your parents may outlive you. If this happens, then who will take care of them? Should you consider leaving your wealth in a trust to care for them? This can be difficult to allocate when children may also need an inheritance. You should consider working with an attorney to ensure all aspects of an estate plan are covered.
We are happy to help, should you need assistance in examining your financial picture as it relates to your ability to help care for a loved one.