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Should I Retire To Care For My Parent?

Some say that retiring is the biggest decision that you will make in your life.  While I do not know if that is true or not, I do know that it is a big decision for every working individual and not one that should be made lightly.

It is a kind and generous act to quit your job or retire in order to care for your parent.  Retirement is often a no-return situation, so it is important to be thoughtful.

There are a number of factors to consider when making such a decision:

1. Do you have enough saved to augment social security for as long as you may live?

2. I am going to ask again.  Do you have enough money to live comfortably on what you have saved as well as Social Security?

Consider the following when attempting to figure out your situation:

  • It is likely that medical expenses will increase over time.  Plan to pay for Medicare Part B, D, and a supplement to Medicare.  Figure out what those insurances cost.  They are not free.  When I calculated it for a couple a few days ago it was approximately $600 per month.
  • Do you still have a mortgage?
  • Will you have inheritance?
  • To be safe, assume a similar lifestyle to the one you have been living.
  • Plan as though you will live well into your 90's.  Some of you will exceed that!
  •  Use an online calculator to figure out your costs and be honest with yourself.

3. Next, look at your job situation.

  • How likely is it that you could return to a similar position for the same pay?
  • What is your health like? 
  • Would working at a lower paying job be satisfactory?

4. Look at ALL of your options.

  • Have you explored FMLA (Federally Mandated Leave Act) to provide either a leave or intermittent leave to care for your parent?  Your human resources department can explain how this works
  • Do you have siblings?  What roles can they play?
  • Can your job be done part time?
  • Have you explored adult day care services or home care?

5. Lastly, consider the role of a fulltime caregiver. 

  • Are you prepared for round-the-clock caregiving? Such a responsibility only grows with age.
  • Do you have a respite plan? Or vacation plan?
  • What is your backup plan if this idea fails?
  • Have you considered your parent’s wishes?  This I consider to be the most important question.  Have the dialog over a period of time if possible.

Retiring to care for a parent is an act of love. Consider it carefully from all perspectives before committing to it.

About this Post

Written By

Mary Haynor

RN / CEO - Emeritus

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