Mothers Don’t Let Your Daughters Grow Up To Be Caregivers

Daughters provide twice as much care for aging parents than sons do, according to a recent study mentioned in The Washington Post. The article said men base their care for an aging parent on whether a sister or the parent’s spouse can handle caregiving responsibilities.

A 60 year old woman contacted me recently, at the direction of her 40 year old daughter. Amanda* had read Suze Orman’s book and saw my name as someone to contact if you don’t have a local professional who is knowledgeable in long-term care planning.  I was thrilled to hear that her daughter was pushing the envelope on her reaching out to me, and most importantly, that this mother is listening to her daughter and taking action.

This blog is an appeal to MOTHERS to take care of your DAUGHTERS so they can care about you and not for you when they grow up.  There’s a huge difference between those two words besides two letters!

Caring FOR can mean…

  • taking time away from husband and children
  • taking time away from a job or going part-time or even having to give up the job
  • compromising personal health

I’ve seen this first hand. My mother cared for my grandfather for 10 years in our home and did not have to quit her job. She did it by working nights as a nurse and caring for him during the day. He was blind, insulin-dependent diabetic and had numerous other health issues. He was also my best friend, his room my first stop when I got home from school. My mother took wonderful care of my best friend. She died at age 54 after a two-year losing battle with breast cancer. She was also depressed much of the time, which think whatever you will, I attribute that to years of caregiving with little rest, which ultimately attacks the immune system.  I saw this affect my parent’s marriage.  I grew up hyper-vigilant as I knew how to call the police or fire department at five years old, and she and I were always “on” to be sure he didn’t fall and hurt himself. Bathing, dressing and cleaning him must have been so difficult for her….and him as well as his mind was fine.

Mothers, is this what you want for your daughters?

The tidal wave of caregiving is coming. Cheryl Matheis, an AARP Senior Vice President said in a May 1, 2012 National Public Radio interview:

In 20 years, we’re going to have twice as many people over 65 as we have now.  So the average worker is going to end up being a caregiver.”

This is a direct message to women and their employers, because women do make up the majority of caregivers, and women make up 47 percent of the workforce!  (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

When a spouse, parent or even an adult child has a disabling accident or illness, the working caregiver has to take time away from work to find caregivers if she can afford them at $18-20 an hour.  If she can’t afford them, she may have to go part-time or leave the workforce in order to be a full-time caregiver.  A common dilemma today is when a woman waits to have children after launching a career, only to have to plunge into caring for aging parents as soon as the children are raised.

Think about it.  Just when women have finally broken through into executive positions and millions have become business owners themselves, this caregiving tidal wave could be the greatest threat to everything women have accomplished in the workplace!

Long-term care insurance can be a phenomenal solution to this generational problem if the parent is still insurable.  Just as the daughter in this story realizes, she wants her mother to be taken care of and she also knows it will impact her own lifestyle significantly. But you need to move quickly.  Most carriers are gender rating which means single women are having to pay a much higher premium.

Another type of policy which can be a great fit for parents who are single is a Facilities-Only policy.  Not many carriers offer this, but it can cost 30 percent less because it doesn’t cover home care. This can make it possible for the adult child to visit the parent in a “country-club” assisted living facility, which in many cases will be a safer environment than the adult child’s home, especially if the adult child works outside the home.  Proper hygiene, nutrition and exercise can be maintained by the assisted living facility as well as a 24/7 response in the event of a fall or other trauma. The comfortable surroundings combined with regular social interaction can be uplifting to the parent. This is what I mean by caring about our parents, not physically for them. Depending on where you live, this care averages $3500 a month but can easily be $4500.

If the parent isn’t insurable for traditional long-term care insurance, an annuity with strong long-term care benefits can be a viable option as there are no health questions. You can see how I explained that in “The Biggest Retirement Concerns – Do You Agree? Depending on the condition, a life insurance with long-term care insurance may also be an option; e.g. lupus that is stable.

The #1 reason why people contact me is because they don’t want to be a burden to their children. Without a plan, this is often the outcome.


*name changed to protect anonymity

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  1. […] for, each one doing a small part will help prevent the burnout of any one person. Especially when women typically take a larger part in the caregiving of their children as well, even if they are […]

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