Retirement Trends: Boomerang Parents

By Stephanie Powers | September 03, 2009 AAA
Retirement Trends: Boomerang Parents

Jon and Kate Gosselin and Nadya Suleman (parents with 8 or more children) may be implementing "retro retirement planning." In the past, couples had lots of children to run the family business and take care of the older generation. Are Americans reverting to the old practice of relying on adult children for retirement? (For alternatives to relying on your kids as a retirement plan, read What's The Minimum I Need To Retire?)

Seniors Moving Home
As the elderly population in industrialized nations swells, retirement practices are being scrutinized. In their 2002 research paper "The economic well-being of older people in international perspective: a critical review", Richard Disney and Edward Whitehouse found that 65% of Japanese people over age 65 lived with their children, while only 15% of elderly Americans lived with their children. In 2002, 2.3 million American seniors lived with adult children. By 2007 the number grew to 3.6 million according to the U.S. Census.

A reversion to "village" style living offers stability to vulnerable senior citizens, but it is more difficult to implement and conflicts with the mobile, self-driven attitudes of current American lifestyles. Families can make it work with the help of community senior citizen recreation and healthcare services. Funding for services may be found in the elder's accumulated assets: real estate, retirement dollars and businesses. Consult a tax professional before liquidating anything.

Feeling the Pinch
Baby boomers feel the pinch of caring for both children and elderly parents, and the elderly parents understand their predicament. The current recession is wreaking havoc on retirement savings and real estate values, while the cost of eldercare continues to rise. Families can protect themselves with long-term care insurance and permanent life insurance. With term insurance, elders may become worth more dead than alive, but policies with accumulated cash value provide needed income during retirement. (Learn more in Long-Term Care Insurance and A New Approach To Long-Term Care Insurance.)
Importance of Trimming Debt
The RetirementResearchCenter at BostonCollege found that 45% of households are at risk of not being able to maintain their pre-retirement lifestyle during retirement. Encouraging economic stability of the next generation is of utmost importance. Younger generations will have more financial burdens and must save more vigorously to survive in old age while providing support for elderly parents. Parents can prepare children by teaching sound financial principles, encourage occupations that produce higher incomes and having frank discussions about their finances. (Learn more in Retirement Lessons To Teach Your Children.)

Invite the Kids Back Home
High unemployment caused adults to move back in with parents instead of the other way around. What if they stay even after finding a job? The benefits to the family could include living in a home with no mortgage, consolidated incomes, shared expenses and priceless quality time.

Having a bunch of children may not guarantee they'll take care of you in retirement. Careful planning and communication among family members will make the lives of the elderly enjoyable.

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