It’s one thing for parents to expect kids to do chores. It’s another to expect that they will take parents into their homes and provide round-the-clock care when you have your own family and responsibilities. According to MarketWatch’s article, “Not expecting to be a caregiver? You’d better check that with your parents,” disaster for all can result when a parent’s idea of home care centers on their adult children’s homes.
In many instances, parents have no one to help them in the house or bring them to appointments. Those adult children who do help their parents may save less for their futures as they help pay for their parents’ care and, in some cases, may cut back on work hours or leave a job altogether. Even worse, these discussions may not take place until it’s too late.
According to a survey by Bay Alarm Medical, some 55% of parents say that their children will be the ones caring for them, physically or financially, as they age. However, not all children agreed with that or knew about it. Parents are more likely to lean on their daughters (and expect that of them) than their sons—about three and a half times more so, according to a 2006 study on mothers’ expectations of caregiving by their children. That’s because they usually rely on the children they believe are closest emotionally.
However, like many money and final year-type topics, families don’t talk about this because they’re uncomfortable or private. Parents will keep their finances hidden and sometimes forget or avoid (or just don’t know how!) telling their children what they expect in their old age. This could mean a disappointed parent or one without the proper plan to fund their care. Children bear the brunt financially if they become their parents’ caregivers without planning. They may not pursue specific careers because they have to move back home, or they won’t put more money in retirement savings because they think they’ll need liquidity for when their parents’ health deteriorates.
Communication is critical on the topics of caregiving and estate planning. Start these discussions with the whole family together and create a list of questions or concerns.
Conversations between parents and children and, if there are siblings, between the siblings, are necessary to make a reasonable plan that will be as fair as circumstances allow. A discussion with an estate planning attorney may yield some useful insights, as they have experienced the varied arrangements of many families and can bring an unbiased and unemotional approach to the family’s situation. Also remember that I have a medical social worker as a key member of our life care planning team who can help guide you with elder care issues.
Reference: MarketWatch (February 21, 2018) “Not expecting to be a caregiver? You’d better check that with your parents”