Each year, concerns mount about the ability for Americans to retire safely. Only 14% of Americans feel comfortable that they can retire. In terms of money for retirement, 42% fear they might outlive their savings. The sad fact is that 57% of pre-retirees haven’t even created a concrete retirement plan.
When you add in the concerns about the rising costs of healthcare, the reality is that 63% of baby boomers lack the confidence that they will have enough money for medical expenses once they retire. It becomes an even more serious concern when you realize that 70% of people over age 65 will require some form of long term care.
The plain truth is that every single one of us is going to age and will probably need help looking after ourselves at some point in time. The alternative, an early death, isn’t that attractive. It’s undeniable that as we live longer, our bodies, minds, and abilities wear down. Sometimes this happens gradually, and sometimes it occurs instantly through a catastrophic event, like the sudden onset of an illness or an accident.
Clearly, these are concerns for those entering retirement, but they should also be the concerns of those considering retirement at some point in the future. Adult children who are interested in helping their retiring parents to live happily and safely in their retirements also need to be aware of these issues.
However, given the inevitability of our aging process and the concerns that people have about thriving and living safely in retirement, a recent American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) survey found that two-thirds of adult children have never talked about these potentialities with their parents.
So how can it be that these vital aging and end-of-life conversations are never undertaken, or done too late at best?
Is it because they’re just plain awkward for most people?
Is it because we never know when the time is right to have them?
Is it because we’re afraid of what our parents will think our motives are for having this discussion?
It’s hard enough to imagine our parents as senior citizens. The leap from authoritative provider to a frail and sometimes confused elderly person seems too great. Trust me, it’s hard for them to stomach this too and they’re fully aware of it.
So the thought of sitting down with your parents or older relative or friend, and discussing personal financial and health related information is right up there in attractiveness with being audited by the IRS.
Now let’s not paint a dire picture of retirement. The reality is that retirement can, and often is, the best phase of a person’s life. It’s the time he or she has worked hard for and has dreamed of. It’s a time to enjoy the stage of life when you’re in control and you can benefit from the fruits of your labor.
Retirement comes with great trips, quality time with the grandkids, and activities with friends where there’s no need to watch the clock.
As the children of retiring parents, it should be rewarding to watch our parents enter this new phase of their lives. It’s a time to celebrate their labors and efforts. It’s a time in which we can help our parents achieve what they’ve always dreamed of doing in much the same way they helped us to achieve our dreams.
It’s also a time to recognize that along with new found freedoms, retirement brings the need to consider many issues in order to ensure a long and safe retirement for our parents. You hope your aging parents, relatives, and friends will always be healthy and mentally sharp. It’s easier to see them that way. But it’s not realistic and in the long run not what’s best for them.
As the adult child of a retiring or retired parent, you may hold the key to ensuring that your parents enjoy a safe retirement. In order to achieve this, you will need to be an active participant in the discussion, planning and implementation phase of your parents’ retirement.
Begin the process of helping your parents to enjoy the later years of their lives, while ensuring that all of their matters related to finances, healthcare and estate planning are handled, for their sake as well as your own.
Take the first step by getting the book, Having the Talk: The Four Keys to Your Parents’ Safe Retirement by Jack Tatar on Amazon today.
Only 14% of workers feel “very confident” they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, while 38% of workers say they are “somewhat confident” and 23% say they are “not at all confident,” according to a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.The results have remained relatively unchanged since hitting an all-time low in 2009.
Cogent Research 2010
Healthcare Expenses and Retirement Income, Insured Retirement Institute, January 2011
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Clearinghouse for Long Term Care Information, 10/22/08