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Saving for Retirement While Caring for Mom?


“My mother is quite elderly now, and she needs more supervision as of late. I have become her primary caregiver, stopping by daily to tend to her. I have four siblings who live in the area, though I do most of the caregiving. I have decreased my work schedule to be more available to my mother, while my siblings continue working full-time. As I prepare for retirement in five to six years at 65, am I decreasing my retirement options by caring for Mom? I can increase my work back to full-time, though it would be difficult to visit Mom daily. Any suggestions?” - READER



Being available to your mother is a kind and wonderful gesture. Your mother and siblings must be very grateful. However, decreasing your earnings and, more importantly, saving less for retirement may be cause for concern. You must evaluate and decide if you have enough saved for retirement.

Usually, one's early sixties are a perfect time to double-down on saving for retirement, and there are a few reasons why. At this point, children often live on their own. Mortgages are less cumbersome and possibly paid for. Major expenses of younger years are usually less cumbersome. Now, if you have saved ten to twelve times your full-time annual income, you may already be poised for a comfortable retirement, which would make caring for your mother quite doable. If you have not saved enough, now is the time to close the gap in retirement savings.

Your siblings are likely focusing on their retirement savings at this point in time. If you have not saved enough to retire, then you may need to rethink your part-time status. If that is the case, talk to your siblings and develop a schedule that balances the workload evenly. One possibility may be for each sibling to care for Mom every fifth day. Five children should make for a great team. It is not necessary for you to stop by daily if you are putting your own future at risk. Be honest with your brothers and sisters. If you need to save for retirement, you need to save for retirement. Change your status to full- time and save more.

There are also other options worth considering when it comes to Mom's care. Many elderly individuals hire someone to check on them daily. Some utilize services like food delivery, “tele-monitoring,” ride assistance, chore completion, and many other types of business-to-home services that your mother could also benefit from. I understand that it is often easier to just do it yourself, and oftentimes that is what we resort to. Sometimes the list of needs grows too long, and we start running around constantly. You will find that by utilizing some of these services, you can save a lot of time.

It most definitely sounds like it is time to gather the siblings and create a plan. Do not assume all the responsibility on your own. Each sibling should help out, doing so either in person or with the arrangement of services. While it is laudable to be attentive to your mother’s needs, it is also important to plan for your retirement and protect your future security.

I wish you the best.


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