Lynda Faye had always looked forward to retirement. Time for gardening and her backyard art studio in Amherst, MA. She wanted to spend time with her grandchildren. To catch up on her reading, to slow down and enjoy life at a slower pace. One thing she never put on her bucket list was caring for an elderly parent.
Faye is 75, and that frail elderly parent is her mother, 99
Yetta Meisel just turned 99. Faye now helps care for her mother, including preparing her meals. She picks up her meds, schedules home aides and transports a wheelchair for excursions. “We never expected her to live this long. She was never particularly healthy, but besides difficulty walking and some cognitive impairment, she is doing better than anyone could have ever expected! Our whole family makes an effort to spend time with her—even if it’s just an hour or so to check in and see how she’s feeling.”
Faye and her mother are part of a growing phenomenon: Seniors spending their retirement years caring for parents who are in their 90s and beyond. Because of longer life spans, many adult children and their parents are now “aging together,” said Kathrin Boerner, an associate professor of gerontology at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Faye has abandoned her own retirement dreams
Her mother’s longevity has taken a financial toll. Faye has dipped into her nest egg to pay for her mother’s expenses. She put her home with her fabulous garden and art studio on the market. She cares for her mother three days each week and pays for part of her mother’s care out of her own pension. As difficult as her responsibilities are, she considers herself lucky to have a mother with a good sense of humor who appreciates her efforts.
Study finds these senior caregivers suffering from failing health, stress and isolation
Dr. Boerner found that many of these late-life caregivers, typically daughters, suffer from their own failing health, which worsens with the stress, depression, physical tasks and isolation. The financial picture often becomes dire. The adult children spend resources meant for their own later lives. It gets worse when there were toxic relationships between parent and child. Old resentments bubble up, and the quality of caregiving suffers.
Getting exercise and taking much-needed personal time could depend on the family’s ability to pay for home aides, adult daycare and other respite programs.
There are resources that may provide help:
- Medicaid picks up some costs for those with limited assets, but the number of hours varies.
- An accountant will calculate tax breaks for home care and other services.
- Local senior programs may offer guidance on free and reduced-cost programs.
But children who are draining their own retirement savings should consider a nursing home that accepts Medicaid, and then pay for restaurant outings and other extras.
Even when they do not pay for care, many older caregivers make financial sacrifices. In some cases, children, particularly women, are retiring earlier than they planned or are cutting back on their hours to care for their parents.
The growing problem of caring for our seniors
Most of us these days know someone who is caring for an aging family member. With 10,000 baby boomers turning 70 every day, caring for this demographic is a growing health care issue. It’s only a matter of time before it becomes a political issue.
The need to prepare life-planning documents
If you or someone you know is caring for someone or are part of a caregiver team, it’s important to create a Living Trust. Our comprehensive Trust portfolio includes a Power of Attorney and an Advance Healthcare Directive. It’s important to sign these legal documents while someone still has testamentary capacity. With a Power of Attorney and Advance Healthcare Directive, you or a member of your team will be able to make important healthcare and financial decisions in the event your family member becomes incapacitated.
Our dedicated team has assisted hundreds of families in creating their Living Trusts
We’re responsive and available throughout the process. We’re helpful, compassionate and affordable. Schedule an appointment today at one of our three Bay Area offices.