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When Roles Reverse: Taking Care of Your Aging Parents

“Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.” – Chili Davis… As mothers, we’re used to taking care of people. For many of us, it even started as little girls – rocking your baby dolls to sleep at night, brushing their hair and dressing them, giving them pretend bottles to drink. Later on, we pretended to cook dinner for them in our play kitchens, pushed them in tiny toy strollers, and {if you were like me} learned how to discipline by bossing little brothers around. I mean, sure, I bucked the trends and also worked on trucks at the family business with my dad, and loved fishing and camping and playing in the mud. But I’m sure that most women can remember those days of care-taking for our dolls. Then we have babies, and realize quickly that, for awhile at least, their needs really do have to take a priority. And that is something that we’re prepared for. But what about as time passes, and it’s our parents who need to be taken care of? That’s something that can come as a shock. I know from experience that it can be a really stressful situation to deal with – but by discussing it with them now, and by doing some planning in your own family and budget, you can relieve some of the strain and uncertainty.

Balancing Your Life while Being a Caregiver

First, let me give you a quick background. My grandmother was always the caregiver of the family. When one of her sisters had a breakdown years ago, she took in her children – in addition to the 3 she already had – and took care of them for years while also helping her sister recover. She was the one who was there to help anyone in the family who was sick, in bad situations, or struggling. Then, when I was in high school, my grandmother started to slip away. Alzheimer’s is the saddest thing to watch. And what was equally heart breaking was watching my mom have to take care of her mother, even as grandma started to get mean, started to forget who we were. But my mom was there for her every step of the way, even though it took a huge toll on her own life. I was reading Women are Caregivers, but Who Cares for Them?, and it really hit home – not only do women do most of the caregiving for parents, but they also are more likely to end up taking care of an ailing spouse. It’s common that they end up using most of their savings and resources on all of that care – leaving nothing left to take care of themselves. So, now you know you need to plan – but where do you start?

Preparing to be a Caregiver

As parents age, it can be an illness like cancer, an injury like a broken hip, a general failing of health – anything can bring a frailty that means they need help with even basic daily tasks. Suddenly those parents that were always so strong are no longer independent. It’s a scary thing. My younger brother was a caretaker for my dad for years when he broke his hip. And {since my parents are divorced} my mom lives with me now. Which makes it even more important to discuss the future with her, and plan for it financially. For her, and for my own future. Which is why I love the tips and tools from Genworth Financial – they make it easy to figure out what type of coverage we might need, from life insurance to long term care insurance and more. They’re full of resources, and I definitely recommend them as a starting point, if you want to have the conversation with your own parents.

Let’s Chat: Have you been a caregiver? If so, what was your biggest challenge? Have you done financial planning for your own future – and have you talked to your parents about your role in their care? Share your thoughts, tips, and advice in the comments….

 {Disclaimer: Information for this post is sourced from Genworth Financial in partnership with the SheHeard Influencer Network.}


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