Senior Center

Grandparents Take Charge

By Daniel @ LivingSenior - November 11, 2011

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Do you know when Grandparents' Day is? It’s the first Sunday after Labor Day. Although Grandparents Day might not be as popular as Father’s or Mother’s Day it’s still a day worth marking on your calendar. The first official observance of Grandparents Day was back in 1979. It was started by Marian McQuade who had 43 grandchildren herself. Clearly, she knew all about the joys of being a grandmother!

Since then grandparents have found themselves playing an increasing role in offering family support. As you plan for your own retirement you might need to consider the impact your own family might have on some of your financial decisions.

Each year a grandparent is nominated by their grandchild to be Grandparent of the Year. This year that distinct honor goes to George Ceko of Chicago, Illinois. His granddaughter Anastacia nominated her beloved grandfather with an essay detailing all the ways this retired electrician and Air Force vet pitches in. As Anastacia tells it, George steps up when her mother goes to work and he is there for every T-ball game. Of course, George’s involvement isn’t an isolated incident.

How Grandparents Contribute

According to a recent survey conducted by Senior Journal, 6.7 million grandparents have grandchildren living under the age of 18 living with them. What kind of impact would that have on your own retirement nest egg? This is something to think about when you consider that of that group at least 2.7 million of those grandparents were responsible for paying most of the household bills for those grandkids. Many of these same grandparents are having their grandkids stick around for at least five years. If you’re planning on moving into a retirement community where the age restriction is 60 plus then having a 17 year old move in is going to put a major crimp on those plans!

According to the same survey, most of these grandparents (70%) who are caring for their grandchildren are doing so in their own homes. Was part of your plan to eventually sell your home and use the proceeds for your own retirement? It’s a smart move, but again, consider if you’ll be taking on the role of guardian. You might need that big house.

State and Government Assistance

If you find yourself dealing with retirement and with caring for a grandchild under the age of 18, you could apply for assistance from the federal and state government. There are many programs in place that can offer assistance with housing, food and medical expenses. There may be certain circumstances where your grandchildren could become “foster” children and as such would have even more assistance opportunities provided to you for their care.

This doesn’t mean you should be thinking about your retirement in terms of worst case scenario. However, it doesn’t hurt to consider your own family “portrait” to assess what the needs might be down the road and if you’ll have to play a part in the care of your grandchildren.

Learn more about the role of grandparents in our lives at LivingSenior. Of course, if you’re a grandparent raising your own grandchildren we want to hear about your stories and offer support and information. Let us know how we can help.