If you’re an adult child of a retiree, you might feel some anxiety as your parent heads toward their golden years.
You may even be wondering if your parent will be able to manage their finances and stay on track with their retirement plans. And while there’s no way of knowing what will happen in the future, there are some common mistakes that children of retirees make that can certainly help us prepare for what could be ahead for our parents.
Here are five common mistakes that adult children of retirees make:
Failing to Prepare
One of the biggest mistakes that adult children of retirees make is failing to prepare for the unexpected. The best way to do this? Prepare for both the worst and best-case scenarios. This means making sure you have a plan in place, talking through it with your parents, and understanding that sometimes things don’t work out as planned.
What if they get sick? What if they need more assistance than they thought? Will their finances be enough to cover these things, or should you step in? If so, how much can you contribute without putting yourself at financial risk? There are no simple answers to this, but having these conversations early on with your parents before any emergencies arise will help you feel reassured, knowing that everyone has an idea of what might happen next and how someone else will deal with it.
One of the best ways to prepare for this season is to educate yourself. Consider reading up on what the retirement years hold by checking out books like “Aging Matters” by R. Pail Stevens, “What the Bible Says About Growing Older” by Dr. Hal Habecker, or “The Retirement Reformation” by Bruce Bruinsma. Be sure also to review a wealth of materials of resources at RetirementReformation.org. You could also attend great seminars with your parents, such as Oxygen4Life.
Ignoring the Emotional Toll
Retirement can be a difficult time for your parents. It’s a significant life change, and it can bring up a lot of emotions for them. They may be feeling sad about leaving the job they love or excited about all the possibilities that lie ahead. They might be worried about how they’ll fill their days now that they don’t have to work so much. Or they might feel stressed out because they’re not sure what to do with themselves yet!
If you’re worried about how your parents are feeling in this life stage, you should consider some ways to help them through this time. Here are some ideas:
-Sit down with them and talk about what retirement means for them—what kind of life changes will happen when they stop working? What types of things do they want to do differently? What are their hopes and dreams for the future?
-Encourage them to write down their thoughts and feelings about retiring so that they can see everything laid out in front of them.
-Ask them what kind of support system they want around during this transition period—family members, friends, neighbors who can check in on them from time to time (and vice versa!).
-Suggest seeking additional community through church, local clubs, and groups or becoming part of the Retirement Reformation.
Taking a “Lone-Ranger” Approach
Often the mantel of care and support is coopted by only one child out of many. Ignoring the opinions and support of your brothers or sisters is a huge mistake.
As siblings, you are in a unique position to support your retired parents. While they may not be as physically capable as they once were (Although many still are), their mental acuity and emotional capacities remain largely intact. As such, it is important that you communicate well with each other and work together to make decisions that will best serve the whole family.
It can be challenging to communicate with siblings, and the reality is that conflict may arise in the process of supporting your parents. However, it is important that you find ways to communicate with each other and reach out before making any decisions regarding your parent’s care or finances.
When making life-changing decisions about how to best care for your parents, it can help if everyone makes their own lists of what needs to be done before coming together as a group to discuss options and make decisions collectively. And don’t forget to include your parents in this! This will help ensure that everyone feels heard and respected by the group as a whole—and ensures that essential items do not get overlooked.
Not Addressing Long-Term-Care Needs
Another mistake adult children make is not addressing long-term-care needs.
Long-term care can be anything from a parent needing physical assistance with daily activities, like dressing or bathing, to more intensive care that includes medical treatment for chronic conditions and at least some supervision of medication use. This type of care is most often provided by paid staff in assisted living facilities or nursing homes. It can also include home health aides who visit your parents in their own home on a regular basis to help with daily tasks such as preparing food and doing laundry—something most people don’t think about when they’re young and still healthy themselves!
But what does this have to do with retirement planning? Well, if you don’t anticipate these costs (and they’re high), then they’ll end up being an unexpected burden on your parents’ finances during their golden years—and possibly yours too!
Ignoring Their Own Retirements
Finally, the best advice we can give is to prioritize your retirement plans. It’s not enough to help your parents plan for theirs; you must prepare for yours. Once you’re ready, put together a budget, get educated about investing, and explore the possibilities of taking advantage of the tax benefits available through IRAs, Roth IRAs, and even work-place offered 401k or 403b plans.
You should also take care not to forget about yourself in all this focus on helping others. If your parents are retired and living off their savings — or if they haven’t saved at all — then it’s time for some serious soul-searching on your part before it’s too late.
If you are the adult child of a retiree and you’re about to embark on your own journey, we hope these tips help you make the most out of it! Good luck!