MetLife found the proportion of adult children providing personal care and/or financial help to a parent has more than tripled over the past 15 years. A quarter of adult children, mostly Boomers, provide some form of care to a parent. This entails a nasty interruption of what, theoretically, are peak earning years. What if those sandwich fillings feel especially obligated and determined, so much so that they exit the workforce early?I, personally, am an "open-faced sandwich with a side of brother." I will hit 50 in October, and I don't have kids, but I do have a parent whose health has taken a swift decline... yet paradoxically, she's healthy, too. My mom will be 77 next month, with terrible arthritis and Parkinsons, but she's actually very healthy, too, with no diabetes, no heart problems, etc. that tend to start to plague people at this age. We have a very small family--just me and my brother, who happens to live with my mom because of his own problems from a brain injury years ago. I left my career track job in 2012 and moved back to town to be closer to them. I still work full time, but am in a geographical location where there simply are no other jobs in my field, and promotions at my current company aren't going to happen because of my location--I'd have to move to move up, and my mom is not willing to do that, and financially can't... and her doctors are here. My mom can't drive anymore, and while my brother works, he needs help with some things. And when I say they have no money... that's pretty much of an understatement. My mom did NOT plan well for her retirement. I have NO idea how someone my age with kids still at home would deal with it. I spend a good bit of money on my mom--extra groceries, extra gas for trips to the doctor, I end up buying odds and end of prescriptions, etc. I pay for a cell phone for her so that she can reach me any time. I personally haven't had a raise in 3 years, and there won't be one this year, either. Still, I'm very fortunate in that my salary is still pretty good, and I live in a low-cost area. I'm saving for retirement, but I'd hoped to start making "catch-up contributions" this year, but I don't think I'll be able to max that out. I have no idea what's going to happen if/when my mom had to go into assisted living. It's probably not going to be a great place, because the money just isn't there... and then there's the question of my brother, who will likely have to come live with me if she has to give up her house. It still has a mortgage, and he can't come close to covering the payments. I'd say that $303K number cited in the article is probably on the low side in terms of what all of this will cost me, when I factor in the lost raises and promotions, lost pension contributions (contingent on salary), lost extra contributions to my retirement funds, plus the amounts that I spend to prop them up in one way or another.YET: I would not have made a different decision. I went over last night, made dinner, and had a really nice visit with them, did a few small chores my mom asked me to do. There's been so low points with this life change for me, and I'm sure there will be more. But it's a privilege to be able to do it, and in this case, I think there are some things more important than money. I have enough. I'd like to have more, but I don't, but I'm grateful to have what I have and to be where I am.
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