A new situation is developing in the U.S. where two generations of one family are in retirement at the same time. However, the younger generation has to care for the older generations and in doing so, confronts considerable challenges, according to The New York Times article “At 75, Taking Care of Mom, 99: ‘We Did Not Think She Would Live This Long.’”
The article discusses Lynda Faye, who planned to spend her retirement gardening and visiting eight grandchildren but instead is caring for her mother, 99-year-old Yetta Meisel. The former art teacher is busy all day long, helping her mother bathe, making meals, picking up prescriptions, scheduling home aides, and transporting a wheelchair for excursions.
Ms. Faye and her mother are part of what is expected to be a growing phenomenon of children in their 60s and 70s who are devoting their retirement years to caring for parents who are in their 90s and beyond.
The financial cost of caring for an older parent is not an easy one. In Ms. Faye’s case, she persuaded her parents to move to their hometown. An addition was added to the Faye’s home, but her parents chose to move to a three-bedroom condo nearby. The Faye’s turned the addition into a bed-and-breakfast suite.
When Mrs. Meisel’s husband died, she qualified for a state program that paid some of the costs of home aides. While Mrs. Faye kept the B&B busy, she paid for 24/7 care and other expenses for her mother from the $25,000 nest egg that her father had. In a few short years, that money was gone.
Now, the family home is on the market. Mrs. Faye and her husband have moved into their mother’s condo. Her mother lives in a one-bedroom unit in the same building. To save money, Ms. Faye cut back on the home aides and cares for her mother herself three days a week. Her mother’s Social Security and the state program pay for the balance of her care. There’s an additional $1,000 needed every month, which comes from Ms. Fay’s pension.
With no assets, her 99-year-old mother does qualify for nursing care paid by Medicaid. However, Ms. Faye has made the decision not to go that route. She considers herself fortunate to have a living mother with a good sense of humor who appreciates what her daughter has done and is doing for her.
A study being conducted on the relationships of 120 parents who are 90 and older and children who are 65 and older found that many late-in-life caregivers suffer from their own failing health. This can worsen with the stress, physical tasks, and the isolation that accompanies caregiving. It can be tough financially when retirement funds are needed for caregiving. If the child does not have a good relationship with the parent, it can become toxic.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances and working toward retirement, that may include two generations.
Reference: The New York Times (June 27, 2019) “At 75, Taking Care of Mom, 99: ‘We Did Not Think She Would Live This Long.’”