Every day over 10,000, people become 65 years old and part of the growing number of those that who may want to retire. More middle aged people are now caregivers for their parents. This has caused a wake up call for their own economic future. Like many middle-aged boomers I am a caregiver.
My 85-year-old father was blessed to be in good health and live in his own home until he was 81 years old. He had worked his entire life as a welder being a great provider while saving for that “rainey”day.
Until 81, he was relatively independent living in his home of 50 years. I would go by for a few minutes several times a week. Weekly I would also take him grocery shopping which ended in a lunch outing. Always an avid reader we would stock up on a few papers like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Couple that with some good coffee and he was set until the next week.
A Caregivers Horror
Then one day he woke up unable to speak and was disoriented. He had a stroke and then two more strokes followed forcing him into rehabilitation for almost a year.
If you know anything about Medicare, they only pay for 100 days of care post hospitalization. Private insurance companies follow their lead so he had to pay 10,000 a month to continue his rehabilitation.
At that point, he was too weak for me to care for at home and I was crushed. Here he was a man who had worked his entire life watching his savings evaporate. Actually due to the stroke, he developed vascular dementia, which really was a blessing. If he understood, what happening to what he was believed was his secure nest egg and inheritance to his grand children I feared he would just give up and die. Therefore, I like any good nurse caregiver I carried the load.
There is no help for a veteran of the United States Navy, a taxpayer for 60 years, an honest citizen, neighbor and father. The health care system shows no mercy for those who have made contributions to society and life we enjoy.
Our society does not provide any help to the elderly until they are destitute. How humiliating this can be for those who have worked their entire lives and invested in our “Great society”.
In Wisconsin, no public support is available to the elderly until they have less than 2,000 in assets. Over the last 4 years, my dad’s health care costs have exceeded $350,000. OUCH!!!
As I went through this journey with him, I began to reflect on my own retirement planning and realized that I need to find a method to supplement my retirement income.
He was a planner but I quickly understood that I must be MORE strategic about planning for my future. The old paradigm of go to college, work hard and save your money is not an absolute.
Given the instability in the economy, even nurses need to take their economic future into their own hands. Pension funds, social security may or may not exist in the years to come.
Really, when you think about it nothing is as it was. The landscape of life is always changing. We must embrace it and take personal accountability as caregivers for others, our finances and ourselves.