Caregiving:  A Decision That May Impact Your Retirement Savings

Many women have been a caregiver while raising children. Still, now many are caring for a loved one out of necessity as the older family member can no longer care for themselves. The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies report, The Many Faces of Caregivers, indicates that 42% of Generation Xers and 42% of Baby Boomers care for a parent, and 57% of Individuals born before 1946 are currently caring for a spouse or loved one.

Care recipients suffer from a wide range of conditions, with half having a permanent one. The five most common conditions are arthritis, dementia/Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and anxiety.

Caregivers help with a wide range of household chores, social and companion needs, health-related and personal care, and managing finances. Caregivers are also the bridge between Medicare or Medicaid services, and many learn medical and nursing tasks from professionals to better care for their loved ones. If you are a women caring for an adult family member (other than a spouse), discuss with your legal advisor what legal documents are required to represent that individual.

Where does that leave women caregivers when it comes to employment and saving for retirement? The report indicated that half of the caregivers have jobs, with many trying to maintain full-time employment. However, over 76% reported they have had to adjust their hours or plan to leave their jobs. Many in the survey expressed that they didn’t consider the financial implications of becoming a caregiver. If you think you may be responsible for providing care for an adult family member, include this in your financial planning. 

In the same way that a financial plan recommends reducing debt and saving more for retirement, a financial plan can show working year’s savings and years of no savings and what that may mean for you. When you become a caregiver, not having to liquidate savings to provide care to someone will significantly impact your retirement. 

If you think you may have to leave your job to provide care for a loved one, being debt-free is essential.  Becoming a caregiver is a life-changing decision and remember to plan for yourself. Your financial plan may want to include life insurance with a long-term care insurance rider so that when you need care, you have the financial resources to provide it. Another option may be a permanent life insurance policy that insures you and accumulates cash value you can use to help fund your retirement. If you are considering becoming a caregiver or already are caring for someone else, contact your financial professional to help you plan for this phase of your life.

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