Want a chance at a decent old age? Have a daughter.Posted by Donna Freedman on Jun 25, 2014 | 33 comments
When middle-aged sons live with their parents, it’s probably because they’re underemployed or unemployed. But middle-aged daughters are more likely to bunk with their parents in order to take care of them, according to a new survey from Yodlee Interactive.
Men ages 35 to 44 are more than twice as likely as women to receive economic support from their parents, and more than three times as likely than women to live at home.
Oh, and daughters are more likely to provide “emotional” support as their parents age, regardless of living arrangements. In fact, 20 percent of the men surveyed say they do not plan to call or visit Mom and Dad as they grow old. Nice.
Maybe it’s because women are socialized to be caregivers. Maybe it’s because they’re guilted into it. My best friend from childhood cared for her father during a long battle with dementia, and also dealt with her mother’s congestive heart failure, despite working and having two kids.
When she asked her older brother for help he told her that because she was the daughter it was her “duty” to take care of their parents.
I am not making that up. And yes, it happened fairly recently, vs. back in the 1800s.
Or maybe it’s because men shiver at the thought of changing an adult diaper. I’ve done that. It’s not fun, but guess what? Sometimes it’s necessary.
Cue the MIL jokes
Oh, it’s not all bad news. Unless you’re an in-law, that is.
For example, 45 percent of all adults said they would chip in for medical bills for their parents and 53 percent said they’d help pay their parents’ living costs. The numbers for in-laws were 17 percent and 22 percent, respectively.
Forty-eight percent of those surveyed said they’d help their parents move closer when they got older, vs. 17 percent wanting in-laws nearby. Forty-six percent said they’d let their parents move in but only 19 percent said they’d want their in-laws living with them.
Which begs the question: What if your spouse wants to help his or her in-laws and you don’t? What then? Epic battles? “Your” money vs. “my” money? Separation? Divorce?
And what if your (or spouse’s) parents remind you, “Remember the years you lived with us when you were underemployed/unemployed? How about a little payback?”
Note: I am not saying that all middle-aged people are slackers. In fact, quite a few people are themselves helping grown kids and aging parents, sometimes simultaneously. According to the Pew Research Center, 21 percent of people in their 40s and 50s have helped a parent financially and 27 percent provide “primary” support for a grown child.
Put your own mask on first
The headline on this piece is facetious, obviously. My reason for writing it is twofold:
- I want to remind women (and men) that they need to think of their own retirement plans when considering how much assistance they can afford, and
- I want women to ask for help. Scratch that: I want them to demand help.
For plenty of people these days, the only retirement they’re going to get is the one they put into place and fund consistently. Constantly bailing out grown kids and/or parents could mean a frayed safety net at the end of your working life.
Please don’t be guilted into being the sole caregiver. Burnout is well-nigh certain in such a scenario, and an exhausted/emotionally overwhelmed you won’t be as effective in helping the people you love. Get relatives on board either physically (to do some of the work) or financially (to buy you some assistance), and research agencies and local programs that will help.
Just as important: Realize that it really is OK to want some money of your own – both now and when you retire – and it’s also OK not to want to spend years (or decades) of your life propping up other people’s lives.
Yes, your parents raised you. Or maybe they didn’t. Yes, they took care of you when you needed it. Or maybe they didn’t. You owe them something, or maybe you don’t. But someone has to be in charge. If that’s you, then make sure you take care of your own needs as well as everyone else’s.