In the United States, it is estimated an overwhelming number of households will involve care for an aging parent. Of these homes, many will include a single parent who, after raising their own children for 17 or 18 years, may now spend the better part of mid-life caring for a parent.
If you are a single parent, it is important to prepare for not only the departure of your children but the addition of your aging parent into your home. Because the number of senior adults is expected to significantly increase in the next several years, there will be many other single parents in the same situation that you may find yourself in.
Because women are generally considered the primary caregivers of the home, many single mothers are feared to experience a life wherein most days will involve caring for someone other than a spouse or life partner. This, ultimately, can lead to emotional and psychological complications in the woman who assumes this role.
One of the most significant adverse effects of this caregiver situation, among single mothers, involves the potential risk for failing to adequately prepare for their own retirement. Because single mothers place most of their money into the expenses necessary to care for their children, ignoring their needs and very often college education, so retirement is often not even addressed until the late 30s or early 40s. For those single parents who assume the care for an aging parent, this focus on retirement is often further displaced as the expenses once incurred for children are now incurred by the aging parent.
If this describes your lifestyle or the financial situation of your home, it is important that you speak with a financial counselor. While your children and your parent may require a substantial amount of your money, it is important to remember that your retirement planning is one of the primary focuses of your wellbeing. Without preparing for your own retirement, you, too, may become dependent upon your own children. Breaking the cycle of dependence will be important to not only your welfare, but also the welfare of your parent.
Single parent households comprise a significant number of families in the United States. To these family dynamics, we can expect to find more and more single parent homes that not only care for children but also an aging parent. Financial planning, therefore, should focus upon the unique needs of this specific demographic of the individual: the single mother with a lifetime of care giving responsibilities.