|Dependents by Roland Tamayo|
"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face." - Mike Tyson (on how opponents prepare to fight him) tweet this
Okay, okay... So maybe Mike Tyson isn't a philosopher but there's some truth in those words. Sometimes life punches you in the face. Are you ready for it? I'm not trying to compare having children to being punched in the face (even though I think I just did) but sometimes life can throw you a curveball that you weren't expecting.
For the most part, couples tend to plan for children, sometimes they plan out years in advance. But one thing that most people don't really plan for is adult dependents. According to many resources online such as Charles Schwab, Fidelity and Bankrate, the Baby Boomer generation is ill prepared for their impending retirement needs. Many have not saved enough and they won't be able to work for forever.
So what would you do if you found out that one of your parents didn't have enough money for retirement and was too old to work?
Would you be ready for an adult dependent?In many cultures it's not uncommon to have multiple generations all living under the same roof. In some areas of the world this might even be more of the standard, where the "sandwich generation" provides for both the older and younger generation at the same time.
With the cost of retirement homes averaging about $50k per year (though this varies depending on location) it's no surprise that the sandwich generation exists! Who can afford to pay for that just to have a roof over their heads?
What if it wasn't just financial assistance? What if your parent needed physical care?When I was growing up there was a period of time that really stuck out to me. It was the last few years of my grandmothers life, she started to get to a point where she needed more help with every day things. Luckily most of my family lives pretty close to each other so my mom and her sisters took turns going over to her house to help with dinner, groceries, or whatever else needed to be done. But over time there were a few sudden changes that happened rather quickly, the first was when the extra care switched to constant care. The switch from 3 or 4 hours every day to needing to be there 24/7 was a stressful change in everyone's lives. How much help she needed became progressively more and more over a few year span.
The second sudden change was much harder on everyone; my grandmother started showing some signs of dementia. She would get confused and had a hard time communicating, but through the whole thing my mom and her sisters kept her where she was the most comfortable, right in her own house. I really think that keeping her someplace familiar was better for her overall; if she was not in her own house then I'm sure her confusion would have been much worse. It was a very difficult time, but my family choose to make the time to take care of her by themselves.
At the time this happened I was in high school and while I knew it was a lot of extra work for everyone. I never really gave it a whole lot of thought, there were just nights when I knew my Mom wouldn't be home so I had to take care of myself for dinner or whatever else I might need.
I knew what my Mom was helping with but I never really thought about "actually" doing it. It's not whether I could do it or not, it was more of a question of would I be willing to take on these responsibilities for an unknown amount of time. Would I be able to help my parents bathe, be around to help them stand up, sit down and move around the house. Help them make all of their meals, be there in case they needed something in the middle of the night. And throughout the whole time see them slowly deteriorate.
Not until recently had I really thought about the kind of commitment that really was. I don't think I would ever want to leave my parents in someone else's care, I would want them as comfortable as I could make them and I know that would be with family, not strangers. But how would I know if I would be ready to take in an adult dependent? They would probably need more help and more complicated care than babies.