Americans caring for an aging parent may be cutting back on their own expenses, having trouble paying the bills and dipping into their savings, according to a new study.

“Our clients who are retirement age who still have parents who are alive and aging are coming into the position where they might want to be helping their parents out financially,” said Suzanne Shier, chief tax strategist with Northern Trust. “It’s not something they factored in when they were planning their own retirement years. It’s a conversation we are having more and more.”

The October 2017 Age Wave/Merrill Lynch study found that 71percent of caregivers have made a lot of sacrifices in their role as caregivers; of the 68 percent who contribute financially to the cost of care, half experienced a significant impact on their finances.

“It comes down to being proactive,” said Mary L. Ballin, a financial advisor in Walnut Creek, Calif. “If adult children are in communication with their parents and visiting periodically, their hopefully won’t be surprises concerning the parent’s financial matters.”

Increased life expectancy  is one reason that elderly parents are impacting their adult child’s retirement and pre-retirement. There were nearly half a million people 100 years or older in 2015, according to United Nations data, and projections suggest there will be 3.7 million centenarians across the globe by 2050.

Below are five signs that advisors indicate a client’s best laid retirement plans may be at risk because of an elderly parent:
 

Missing Out On Leisure Activities Or Travel In Retirement

“Clients retirement is at risk when they are redirecting their fun money or fun activities on a month-over-month basis to cover a parents' care,” said Matt Chancey, a CFP in Orlando, Fla.

Some 30 percent of caregivers cut back on their own expenses, 24 percent have trouble paying bills, 21 percent dipped in to their savings, 18 percent couldn’t contribute to other expenses or savings and 15 percent took on debt to cover costs of care.

But the issue is beyond financial for Virginia-based CFP Mark E. Johannessen, who has witnessed retired clients have their own retirement interrupted by increasingly needing to care for World War II-era parents.

“Though there have been some financial implications in those instances, the bigger issue has been time and undue burden put on those family members who are retired,” Johannessen told Financial Advisor.

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