As we move through life stages, family members (however you define family) take care of one another. It’s what family is all about. Over the years and through the decades, we accept, prepare, and plan for the next step. Finally, we retire.
Nowadays, the term retirement can refer to a period that may stretch out twenty or thirty years. We generally accept that there are three common phases to retirement. How quickly you pass thorough the stages is influenced by your resources and health. In phase one, you may travel or pursue other activities that you put off due to family and career responsibilities. You may seek activities that add meaning or routine to life. The next phase may involve finding a community or living style that is more routine or settled. The third phase sees the effect of aging, but we still call it retirement. We lack a phrase to describe the stage when retirement years morph into aging, interdependency, and require increasing levels of assistance. Logically, retirement preparation should include preparing for long-term care needs. But few people prepare. Somehow this topic throws us for a loop. Why is preparing for this phase of life so daunting and intimidating?
Commonly, we fail to plan for the inevitable: Mom and Dad will age, probably live much longer than their parents did, and will likely require more specialized care over a longer period of time. Unfortunately, for many families, this combination has caused a perfect storm, pushing families’ budgets and stress levels to the limit. More family caregivers are in the workforce—some 60 percent work full- or part-time in addition to their caregiving responsibilities. This trend will continue, and those who have to pull back face substantial economic risk from loss of income, benefits, contributions to their own retirement savings, or reduced social security benefits.8
Still, most people don’t have a plan to deal with what’s around the corner much less ten to fifteen years down the road. But then something happens.
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