A Difficult Balancing Act

Many younger Baby Boomers, like my husband and I, struggle with an interesting balancing act. With our own retirement about 12 – 15 years out, we still have younger children finishing college degrees while we have parents who are in need of more help and care. How do we balance the needs of our parents and our children with our own needs? This is the juggle of time and money and energy we have going on now.

While all of our children are adults and technically responsible for themselves and their own families, if married, we try to help out as we can and as we know of needs. For the most part, at this moment, our parents and step-parents are in pretty good shape for their age and stage; the exception is my mother.

Diagnosed late with diabetes, she has diabetic retinopathy. Legally blind in one eye, and even corrected in the other eye she cannot see well, she no longer drives. She was not financially well prepared for retirement. Unfortunately, my mother has not done much to encourage a strong friend base in her senior years, and family is limited; there is only my brother, my husband, and I to help her.  We all live more than an hour away.

If it were not for the rural transportation bus program that began in her area a few years ago, I do not know what we would do.  She is able to use this program to go to the grocery, bank, pharmacy, some of her medical appoints, etc. More than the transportation, it gives her a reason to interact with others.  For the past year, she has had a woman come to her home for a few hours most weeks to help with light housekeeping and other needs.  Again, the biggest assistance this service provides is interaction with others. Mom no longer wants to go out to eat with family members; I can’t get her to come stay with us or go on trips for even brief periods.  She wants to stay in her home, and she does not even want to have a senior facility as a consideration for down the road.  Finances are not available to have a live-in caregiver, so I don’t know what the future will bring.

My husband and I, after each of us has an experience a serious health issue ourselves, want to travel and enjoy life while we are physically able, and we need to provide for our own retirement.  Neither he nor I want to become a burden to our children. Balancing the needs of our family members with our own needs is truly a balancing act that we practice more and more as time goes by.  Hopefully, we will find the right balance for all of us.

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