A few weeks ago, I got an unexpected invitation to lunch from my husband. His afternoon meetings had been rescheduled and he was coming home early. We went to a little Subway store in a shopping center near my office. The patio area in back has a beautiful view of the picturesque homes on the large canal by the bay, and it's perfect to just talk and enjoy your meal while you soak up some sun.
Not long after we sat down, I noticed three little sailboats making their way up the channel. Now, this interests me because I spent much of my childhood and teen years sailing with my family. I watched them progress, tacking back and forth, and realized that their destination was actually a little dock about 15 feet from our table. One by one, they made their way toward the dock and tied off their boats. I'd say the three gentlemen were in their 70s.
I was actually surprised to see anyone sailing on the channel because it's not that wide, but these were a class of boat I had never seen before — so I had to go chat with them. They told me all about the little boats and how they meet every Tuesday for lunch at the dock. I don't get out for lunch all that often, so I had no idea this was going on every week! But it got us thinking.
“Wouldn't it be great if we could get dad to come live with us and he could go sailing every Tuesday to have lunch with some new old sea salts?”
Terry was already thinking about how much square footage we would need to accommodate my dad and Gigi. It's a scenario that we often consider because neither of us is comfortable with his current living situation and we would love to offer an alternative that would actually interest him. But, obviously, we're not the only couple that thinks about how to care for aging parents.
When J.D. Roth asked the readers what they thought their financial obligation to their family was, Lindsay expressed a familiar sentiment:
“I am a Gen-Xer with parents aged 63 and 73. They're in very good health but one reason that I want to ‘get rich slowly' is so that I can take care of them when they need it. I feel like it's my obligation to care for my parents. Whether or not they would WANT to be taken care of is another story. They may prefer to stay in a senior citizen's home and socialize with other seniors, but I want to be able to afford a big enough house that they can come live with me, and I want to be able to afford in home care if they need it.
“I owe them my life. They were not perfect, but nobody is. They are good parents and they put up with a lot from me, especially in my teen years. I also think it won't be such a bad example to set for my own children.”
I came across a January 2013 Pew Research Center study that indicates that “… 14% of adults in their 40s and 50s have already cared for an aging parent or other elderly family member, and nearly seven in ten say that it is ‘very' (48%) or ‘somewhat' (20%) likely they will have to do this in the future.”
As is the case for Lindsay, key to caring for our aging parents (the way we would like to) is having a home that accommodates us all, but it doesn't end there.
We know that our financial house has to be in order, and that is one of the reasons we are so interested to build up our savings and keep planning for our own retirement. Aside from making sure this is something my dad would WANT to do (as Lindsay puts it) — even just having him and Gigi during the winter months would be such a blessing from my standpoint — there are so many financial aspects that we need to plan.
If you are already at this threshold, what are you doing to make it possible to care for your aging parent(s)? How did you get there, what issues do you face, and how do you plan to address them?