Instead of leaning on each other in their golden years, divorced parents may lean more heavily on grown children for care and support. Experts say adults whose parents are divorced should be prepared for the extra time and financial demands that aging and unmarried parents could require.
As long as there are two parents together, they pretty much take care of each other,” said Francine Russo, author of They’re Your Parents Too!
Married couples can also take advantage of economies of scale when it comes to things like housing or insurance. Single seniors, on the other hand, lack both the emotional and financial support a spouse can provide.
See Also: AARP Caregiving Resource Center >>
According to Susan Brown, a Bowling Green sociology professor, unmarried older adults are “much more economically vulnerable” than married counterparts.
They’re more likely to be poor and to be using public assistance, and they’re less likely to have health insurance but more likely to have a disability,” Brown told Reuters.
When multiple marriages are involved, the situation could get even more tricky. Adult children may be called on to help care for stepparents as well as biological parents (and if both parents remarried and all parents and stepparents are still living, that’s quadruple the caregiving!). Or they may have to share tough caregiving decisions with stepsiblings they hardly know or trust.
See Also: When Parents Move In With Kids >>
Such issues will only multiply in the coming years. While there are obviously many boomers whose parents are divorced, the numbers are nothing compared with the number of divorced boomers themselves.
Since 1990, the divorce rate of those over 50 has doubled,” says Brown. “In 2010, the number of 50-plus divorcees was around 643,000.”
According to a study published this spring in The Gerontologist, one out of three boomers is currently unmarried, and some 60 percent of unmarried boomers are divorced.
See Also: Why Long-Married Couples Split >>
“As soon as you have an inkling that a divorced parent might need assistance, it definitely requires a family meeting,” advises Joy Loverde, author of The Complete Eldercare Planner. “Everyone needs to be there, to open up about any concerns, to start sharing responsibilities. Start talking about it right now; do not wait.”
Monday Quick Hits:
・Excess carbs linked to cognitive decline. In a three-year study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, high intake of carbohydrates and sugar was associated with higher risk of developing dementia. Lead researcher Rosebud O. Roberts said one reason is the effect of these foods on glucose and insulin in the brain.
・New retirement saving limits for 2013. The IRS announced last week that it would raise the contribution limits for IRAs and 401(k) plans slightly. In 2013, workers will be able to put up to $5,500 into an IRA and $17,500 in a 401(k) account. The additional amounts for those over 50 — an extra $1,000 for IRAs and $5,500 for 401(k)s — won’t change.
・McCain ’08 to Obama ’12 voters skew older, white and male. Of voters who backed John McCain in 2008 but now support Barack Obama, 55 percent are male, 34 percent are 55 or older and 72 percent are white, according to a new Reuters poll. Defectors to Obama made up a smaller subset of those polled than Obama ’08 voters who now support Romney.
・Online learning-sphere expanding. The University of Texas announced last week that its nine universities and six health institutions will soon offer free online courses via edX, the Web-based education initiative launched last spring by Harvard University and MIT.
・RIP George McGovern. For McGovern — who died Saturday at age 90 — one spectacular failure belies a lifetime of achievements. Here are five things you might not know about the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee.
Photo: Yellow Dog Productions/Getty Images