MarketWatch recently published the article entitled “Not expecting to be a caregiver? You’d better check that with your parents”, noting that the caregiving expectations between parents and their children can be misaligned, leading to disaster for everyone.
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’ caregiver 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.
Some siblings may only be able to provide financial assistance—like paying the bills, coordinating insurance, or using funds from their own savings accounts. Have a conversation among the siblings separately and assign a lead person, if not everyone is available to help the parents.
Reference: MarketWatch (February 21, 2018) “Not expecting to be a caregiver? You’d better check that with your parents”