Are Your Aging Parents a Roadblock in Your Retirement Planning?

Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP® Sandy Adams

As the meat in the so-called “sandwich generation,” the baby boomers are approaching retirement at a record pace. As we work with clients and client couples to get their financial and non-financial “ducks in a row,” it is becoming more and more common to discuss issues surrounding the assistance of one or both sets of parents and aging/long term care issues. If this sounds familiar, here are the possible roadblocks that this can cause for your retirement planning and some suggestions about what you can do to prevent them.

What are the Roadblocks?

  • Providing assistance/caregiving often limits the time you can work; you may be forced to take family leave time to provide care, go to part time work, or even take early retirement.
  • Working less reduces earnings, providing less Social Security earnings, and less in retirement savings for future retirement.
  • Stopping work prior to age 65 may mean a need to bridge a health insurance gap when that was not the original plan.
  • Caregiving can be stressful, especially if you are trying to continue to work and also have responsibilities with adult children and/or grandchildren, so your own health can become a concern.
  • With so much going on, just being able to keep your “eye on the ball” and concentrate on your own retirement goals can be a challenge.

What Can You Do to Make Sure To Stay On Track?

If you find yourself in the position of assisting aging parents, now or in the future, do not assume that all is lost. There are things that you can do to make sure that your own retirement will stay on track:

  • Have conversations with your parents and plan ahead as much as possible to make sure that their long term care is funded; have a conversation to discuss if they are willing and able to have non-family members provide care if and when the time comes (at least until you retire); have a professional moderate the planning conversation if it’s not a talk your family is comfortable having on their own.
  • If you do end up leaving work to care for an aging parent, discuss having a paid caregiver contract drafted or determine if your parent’s Long Term Care insurance policy has the ability to pay you for your services as a caregiver.
  • Make sure others take their turn and spread the responsibilities amongst others (see my recent blog on Family Care Agreements); take breaks and take care of yourself (caregiver stress is a real thing!).
  • Continue to meet with your financial planner on an annual basis to keep yourself focused on your own goals along the way—continue to save for retirement as you are able and make progress.

We all have roadblocks that slow our progress towards our goals; aging parents might be one of yours.  The love and care we have for our family—especially our parents—is not something we would ever deny, however frustrating it might be when it delays that ultimate freedom we call retirement. But if we plan ahead, and coordinate with our families and professional partners, we can hope to make the roadblock more of a speedbump.  Contact me if you have questions about how your financial planner can be of assistance.

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.

The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Sandy Adams and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.