Ladies, Put on Your Oxygen Mask Before Helping Others!

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The Financial Risk to Women caring for Aging Parents.

She was crying and there was nothing I could do.  I would soon learn she was one of the many women caring for aging parents...

A few months ago, I met a woman who was referred to me by another professional.

She was in her late 60s, divorced and working full-time.

After about 10 minutes of small talk, she shared her story with me.

She had been caring for her Mom for the past 15 years, it had takne its toll on her.  Emotionally. Physically. Financially.

Her Mom was in assisted living and the family finances couldn't keep pace with her cost of care.

Her Dad had passed away several years ago and had done a lot to provide for his wife in his absence.  All told, he'd left approximately $1.5 million behind in investments, savings and real estate.

Fast forward 15's all gone.

Not only had her Dad's assets been consumed with the costs of caring for her Mom, she - the daughter- was now spending a lot of her income to support her Mom.

This is when she began crying. 

She'd already cleaned out her retirement accounts and savings, and was now faced wit the possiblity of selling her home to create additional liquidity to help with her Mom's care. 

THIS IS a challenge many women face - or will face- as they shoulder the burden of caring for aging parents.

Caring for an older relative can really take away from your income.  An estimated 66% of caregivers are female which reinforces the need for women to consider this in their planning. 

In this situation, I told her that as much as she cared for her Mom, she needed to make sure she didn't neglect her own welfare, both now and in the future.  

Unfortunately, she doesn't have a lot of choices or flexibility in her present situation.

Don't let yourself wind up in this woman's shoes. 

There are financial preparations that might include long-term care insurance for your parents or yourself. 

You should make sure you have a sufficient level of comfort and confidence in your own financial plan so you'll be better prepared to adjust for these types of needs as they arise.  As much as you want to help your parents or anyone else that is important to you, if you're jeoparadizing your financial future in the care of someone else, you risk creating a destructive financial cycle. One where you're caring for your parents and it's potentially sucking up all your financial savings and security.

Who's going to look after you as you age?

Most likely your children.  And this can happen for generation after generation.

Instead, talk to your parents about their expectations and establish some boundaries.  As much as you want to help, you need to know at what point your personal financial contributions will put your personal financial plan at critical risk.

As much as I hate to be the one to say this, if your parents didn't adequately prepare for their future, it's not your responsibility to cover any gaps or shortfalls.

Nevertheless, many women not only want to provide help and support to their Mom and Dad as they get older, they feel like it is their duty and that it takes priority over their own well being. 

Just be careful as this attitude can be devastating to your own financial future and that of your children. 

Its an important topic that needs to be openly discussed within families. 

Contact me and let me know what you think. 

Michele Wells Financial Advisor Manulife Securities Incorporated 

Focused WealthCare Balancing Finances & Lifestyle

call (807) 684-1900 fax (807) 626-5111 e-mail

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This is for information purposes only. Thank you.