When you get old… will you live with your kids? Maybe you have a big retirement fund set aside so you don’t ‘have to’.
While not so much with our parents, we only have to go back to their folks’ time to find the days that when parents got old they went to be with the younger family members. There is some question around if that was less popular in the US than other countries. This is most likely due to how many generations were actually living on the Continent.
Also going back just a couple generations, we find a time when there were limits to what could be done to prolong a person’s life when there were issues. Food and living habits have changed so that weight issues ripple to health issues more so today than yesteryear. People are getting ill with life altering health issue earlier today.
Medicine, doctors and technology is proving to add a new level of length of life that was not possible a generation or two back. Now, it is possible to medicate or replace body parts that are giving up. People can be kept alive well past the point that quality of life is a factor.
As current generation parents start to get to their elder years, even if they do not live with their kids, they will still impact their kids. Unless there is a dramatic and tragic body failure, parents are faced with a choice when they will pass. For a price, doctors can keep our moms and dads alive past their point of being able to function and most often recognize their kids.
Faced with this fact, kids are needing to support the system of care financially since it is no longer acceptable to do nothing. I’m not saying that it has been the history of parents to move in with their kids and their kids did nothing for them. I am saying that it used to be that a parent moved in and had an expect life expectancy, beyond that there was nothing that could be done. Now, there is something that can be done but it comes at a financial cost. And, for most modern families, that expense if life changing for them too.
Recently I have been hearing more and more conversations amongst the 50 somethings talking about how to fund the care needs of their parents. Unless parents won the lottery or put millions away for a rainy day, there are very large expenses outside of what insurance pays to keep loved ones amongst us for another year. I don’t see the government changing policy to take on more of the family financial responsibilities when faced with bills to keep a parent alive.
I’m not talking about a life support machine for someone unconscious. I am talking about a parent reaching the point of declining health where they need full time care beyond what a family can provide at home. There is no ‘plug to pull’, it is more likely the cost of a assisted care facility. Any of which will go through a parents savings in a year yet hopefully they can live for many more.
The questions I wonder is;
What is the long term impact to people living longer when it directly hits a family budget… do kids not see their folks as they work extra hours for extra income or does it impact future generations from being able to afford school?
How will kids cope with not being able to financially support keeping a parent in a quality of life living arrangement? Both short and long term mentally.
Living longer and being able to keep people alive for things that ‘would have killed us’ before comes at a cost. How do we plan for a future both financially and mentally, it’s a whole new level of responsability and stresses.