Time to Start Thinking about Taking Care of Our Parents When They Retire

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When we were younger, our parents had some type of talk with us, whether it was about sex or our plans after high school. Now that we’re older, we’re having “the talk” with them about their plans for when they retire. I’ve seen people retire and then return to work to pay for their health insurance or other expenses. My mom is looking forward to retiring from her job of 30 years as a bus operator and getting senior citizen discounts at restaurants, and I am worried if she’ll be able to pay her mortgage and other expenses.

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Work or Retire Photo Courtesy by:

My mother isn’t able to do the things she used to do because of her work injuries. I’ve asked her if there’s some type of work that she’s interested in doing, and she doesn’t have a plan. I want her to work at doing something she enjoys doing or something that comes naturally for her, like culinary or cutting hair. I don’t want her to be at Walmart greeting people to make a little change. I mean, damn! You retire from one job to work another 15-20 years at another job to pay the bills.

I have been living with my mom since I was a baby. I don’t make enough for an apartment in Oakland, and a studio isn’t worth almost $1,000 a month. It didn’t make sense paying rent when I could pay to live at home with my mother. I am blessed to have a close relationship with her and she helps me with my daughter. It’s a win-win situation. With both of us kind of stuck financially, I support her and I am aware of what’s going on with her, and vice versa.

There is a post that I’ve seen of a mother going through phases with her child. She takes care of the child, then the child grows older, and then the mother grows older and the child takes care of her. Some of us are beginning to take care of our parents due to dementia, illness, financial struggles, and so on. We have to know our parents’ backup plans so we’ll know what to do if we have to take over. I know some parents don’t like to discuss their finances with their children, but it doesn’t hurt to secure their future on our own (having our own insurance policies for them, knowing their medical history, etc).

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Life Cycle of a Parent Photo Courtesy by:

My mom and I are a team. She loves to say, “We’re all we got!” She is right because if we don’t trust each other, then we can’t take care of each other.  I hate feeling like I’m the parent in this situation, but it’s my responsibility to take care of her. As we get older, it’s harder for us to see our parents getting older too. Instead of feeling restraint and like she’s a burden, I want my mom to enjoy her life. When I was a kid, I promised her that I would be a celebrity and buy her a nice, big house. Well, I’m not a celebrity (like I want to be) and I can’t buy her a big house, but I’m definitely a woman of my word. Whatever my mom decides to do when she retires, I’m going to help take care of her.

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Joy Elan

Joy Elan

Joy Elan is an award winning author and spoken word artist from Oakland and Berkeley, CA. She received her BA degree in African American Studies at UC Berkeley and her MA degree in Education at Stanford University. Her books are available on (poetry, non-fiction, and fiction genres). For more information, go to