Family Members as Caretakers
Family is our most intimate social connection. And in past generations, it was assumed that younger generations would take care of the older generations. But in today’s society, two-income families and a plethora of community and social activities have changed the landscape of life as we know it. If you’ve had a good relationship with your adult children, it’s possible they ARE the natural choice for any eventual long-term care you might need. But when we enlist family members as caretakers, it’s a good idea to count the cost ahead of time for those who desire to pick up that role. Our Phelps LaClair firm is located in Mesa, Chandler, and Phoenix, AZ, and as a team that believes in being financially prepared for long-term care, we have some facts to consider as you look to the future.
Family Members as Caretakers
When your son or daughter say they are eager to care for you as you grow older (and your spouse, if you’re married), they may not be aware of what that care could entail. In our last blog post, we wrote about some of the basics of caretaking. We’ll follow up those general thoughts with this article about choosing family members as caretakers, and what it could mean for your children’s lives.
No matter how much or how little care you might require, as caretakers, your children will need to take extra time out of their daily and weekly routines. If you are unable to care for your own basic needs, like bathing or cooking or dressing yourself, they’ll need to be nearby 24/7. And if only one child is doing all the caretaking, that child will need to have a break from time to time in order to have some personal breathing room.
If you’re able to handle your basic care, but you need someone to drive you to appointments or do your shopping, etc., your adult children’s time investment won’t be as heavy. But if your kids have their own children, and/or they work, be aware that the time they give to your care will add to a busier lifestyle for their own family.
It’s possible that you have several children, and time for caretaking can be apportioned between all of them. But do those children have a relationship that enables them to work together in a cooperative manner, or will the sparks fly because they have different approaches to life? If you’ve got several children who have expressed a sincere desire to be part of your caretaking, it’s a good idea to sit down and discuss how they can work together to make it doable for everyone involved. Discussing these subjects ahead of time so everyone is clear on expectations could help maintain healthy relationships between each of your adult kids when the time comes.
If your children move in with you, how will they manage their own mortgage during that period? If your care means they cut back on hours at work, how will it affect their overall budget? Will they still be able to financially prepare for their own retirement(s) while they are investing time and effort in your care? What about the gas used to drive you to appointments and to drive to your home on a regular basis? Are your children willing and able to afford the costs associated with caring for you? These are all questions that should be considered as family discussions occur about your future needs.
Growing older isn’t for the faint of heart, and as we’ve written previously, attitude is everything. Adult children who care for you also need a positive attitude and a good bit of courage. It may not be easy for you to handle the changes that aging can bring to your mind or body. And it’s safe to say that these changes will also be difficult for your loved ones. Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and a reversal of roles from being cared-for as your child, to being a caregiver as an adult; these can all take their emotional toll. Your children may love you immensely, but it could be good to discuss the emotional factors of caretaking before they commit to stepping into those shoes. Though this type of discussion may not be easy, it could help everyone be more realistic about what is involved, and in the long run, it might protect loving connections and make everyone more patient.
Thinking it Through
At Phelps LaClair, we’ve helped hundreds of families get ready for the future. We’ve got two generations of experience in estate planning, and we can help protect your estate from the high costs of eventual long-term care. If you’re planning for family members as caretakers, you still want to know you’ve got a financial plan that covers you, your spouse, and your beneficiaries from financial loss. Even if your family is committed to your care, you cannot know for certain that you won’t ever need to enter a skilled nursing home due to unforeseen medical needs. Be ready for the unexpected. If you’d like to know more, feel free to get in touch with us at one of our offices in Mesa, Chandler, or Phoenix, AZ.