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  • Archive for the ‘Thanksgiving’ Category

    Thank you, Mom! A Story of Caregiving

    Thursday, November 28th, 2013

    This Thanksgiving, WISERs wants to thank all of the wonderful caregivers in America. As our last post for National Caregivers Month, we will share one personal story of a WISER staff member that can really tie some of the various topics of the month together.

     

    My mother was the caregiver of two of my grandparents, her frail and ailing mother and her aging father-in-law whom she viewed as a second father. Both were diagnosed with lung cancer in the same year, and although their paths took very different turns, my mother devoted most of her time to caring for them both.

    My grandmother actually began needing help a few years before her cancer diagnosis. She lived alone, after her husband for whom she cared for 20 years passed away from Alzheimer’s. One day she fell, broke her hip, and began a very long journey. She became ill, needed oxygen, required a walker, was in and out of rehabilitation centers, and eventually had to be moved closer to our home, although she still lived a significant distance. By the time she learned of her cancer, my mother had already cared for my grandmother for years. 

    My grandfather seemed to be doing pretty well until his diagnosis. He liked my mother to come visit him, but could still drive himself and do many of his errands himself. By the end, he needed her assistance with almost everything.

    My mother retired early for a couple or reasons, but mostly to take care of her parents. For years she drove them to almost every doctor appointment, radiation treatment, and physical therapy session. She did their grocery shopping, helped them with their finances, and picked up their medicines. It costs her gas money, lunches and dinners as she ran her errands, time at home—all common challenges of caregivers everywhere. It certainly wasn’t easy. Both of my grandparents had strong wills and despised what the disease and their treatments were doing to them. She was, unfortunately, the brunt of some of their anger and depression, which is another common experience amongst caregivers.

    My grandparents passed away in 2012, and I know that they were both content in their final days because of the care my mother gave them. She became their caregiver, even to her own financial detriment and mental health. My mother’s experience was not unique. In fact the average caregiver is 49, a woman with a career and children taking care of her widowed 69 year-old mother.

     I am thankful for my mother, and all caregivers who sacrifice for others. I hope that the blogs this month have assisted caregivers in facing the difficult circumstance and decisions they have to make, and hopefully it has helped others understand the problems caregivers face. November may be the month to focus on caregivers, but they deserve our respect and support every other month too.

     

    It is important to remember that becoming a caregiver can happen at any time, but often it may happen as you are nearing retirement. Even older adults who feel financially prepared for their own retirement may suddenly find themselves unprepared to manage the costs of caregiving.

    But it is equally important to remember that you are not alone. 66 million people in the U.S. provide unpaid care to a relative or friend. There are many resources available to make your task easier. WISER’s booklet, Financial Steps for Caregivers: What You Need to Know About Protecting Your Money and Retirement is a great place to start. Read it yourself, and share it with other caregivers you know!

    Happy Thanksgiving from WISER!

    Thursday, November 27th, 2008

    Looking for a gift idea you can feel good about? Well look no further than I Savings Bonds. One thing to be thankful for today is the new and improved interest rate on I Savings Bonds. While I Savings Bonds were earning 4.28% this time last year, the interest rate has increased to a whopping 5.64% through April 30, 2009. I Savings Bonds are government-issued bonds that earn interest each month, and the interest is compounded every six months. The I Bond is currently providing a higher return than the EE Bond. Since becoming available, the I Bond has been very popular; sales of over $3.2 billion were reported in the first year.

    Here are a few things you should know about the I Bond:

    • You can buy I Bonds at face value; for example, you would pay $50 for a $50 bond.
    • Earnings are exempt from state and local income taxes
    • Federal income taxes can be deferred for up to 30 years, or until you cash them in, whichever comes first.
    • You can earn interest on them for up to 30 years and can cash them out after 5 years without losing interest (You will lose three months’ interest if you cash them in sooner.)
    • You can now buy savings bonds with automatic deductions from your checking or savings account on a regular basis through the Easy Saver plan, or on the Internet.

    I Bonds are a great gift for kids! You can show them how to calculate the value of their savings bonds every year. For more information on I Bonds, go to www.savingsbonds.gov or call 800-487-2663.

    The "Sandwich" Dilemma: Caregiving Concerns Facing Female Baby Boomers

    Wednesday, November 26th, 2008
    Thanksgiving has nearly arrived, bringing with it a much needed, calorie-laden respite for all. As you, your friends and your family count the things you can be thankful for (e.g. the thriving economy…), do not forget to include America’s caregivers. After all, November marked National Family Caregivers’ month, a celebration of the 34 million caregivers who provide $375 billion in unpaid help to friends and family.

    According to Kelly Greene of the Wall Street Journal, the typical caregiver in the United States is a “46-year-old woman who works outside the home and spends more than 20 hours a week providing unpaid care to her mother.” Not only are these women not paid for the care they administer, but they also face “opportunity costs” such as lost wages and subsequent loss of employer-sponsored health insurance and retirement benefits. Some even pay out of pocket during the course of their caregiving; in 2007, caregivers spent an average of $5,531 of their own money when caring for those over the age of 50.

    The current group of caregiving women is mainly baby boomer women born between ages 45 and 59, according to Tom Riekse, Jr., a managing principal at a brokerage general agency. This demographic often finds itself caring for their parents and their children. This “sandwich effect” has begun to cause women to start thinking about how to prepare themselves for the time when they may require long-term care.

    There are many avenues to consider when thinking about financing one’s future circumstances. Medicare and Medicaid are examples of public resources that are in place to assist those requiring long-term care. Visiting www.longtermcare.gov, a website created by the Department of Health and Human Services, will provide you with information on financing care publicly. While these government options can prove invaluable, Rieske recommends that his clients also research private long-term care insurance…..and the sooner, the better.

    There are a number of reasons why purchasing long term care coverage in advance can be a smart decision. For one, long-term care insurance is medically unwritten. As such, healthier clients obtain better rates. According to Rieske, while those ages 40 to 49 qualify for “good health discounts” 63.2% of the time, only 51.5% of those ages 50 to 59 qualify. Also in respect to age, the premiums and benefits change depending on how old you are. In this way, the premiums you pay over a longer period of time may can end up being less than what you will be paying if you choose to purchase an insurance plan later on.

    There are many routes to consider when thinking ahead about long-term care. Whatever path you choose, it is important to seek out all available information on both public and private options. You may want to consider consulting with a financial advisor, especially if you choose to purchase long-term care insurance and are unsure which plan is right for you. Visit the WISER website and click the “Caregiving” where you can find more information.

    WISER

    About Us

    WISER is a nonprofit organization that works to help women, educators and policymakers understand the important issues surrounding women's retirement income. WISER creates a variety of consumer publications including fact sheets, booklets and a quarterly newsletter that explain in easy-to-understand language the complex issues surrounding Social Security, divorce, pay equity, pensions, savings and investments, banking, home-ownership, long-term care and disability insurance.

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