It's Mother's Day, and I speak from experience: Every mom who is on the verge of retirement has all the tchotchkes, slippers and bath bubbles she needs, plus a buffet brunch isn't on her diet.
Here are five better retirement planning gifts that say you love her even more eloquently.
- Buy her some long-term care insurance. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, two-thirds of women will need an average of three years of long-term care during their lives. If your mother doesn't have a good plan for paying for this possibility, it is in your best interests to help her figure out her options. Medicare doesn't cover long-term care, and before Medicaid will pay her bills, your mother will have to spend all but $2,000 of her assets, possibly including selling her home. Helping her buy long-term care insurance before she needs it is a hedge against putting both of you in a bad financial situation.
- Buy her some good advice. A recent survey by ING Direct says 47 percent of women rely on retirement advice from people who aren't experts. Even if you consider your mom a financial guru herself, she'll still benefit from a few sessions with a fee-only financial planner.
- Make her home safer. Breaking a hip is expensive. According to U.S. Census statistics, in 2009, 27 percent of people 65 and older lived alone and 77 percent of those were women. If your mom is one of those people, spend a day or two installing grab bars and handrails in her bathroom, add nonskid strips to her shower, tack down throw rugs and replace round door handles with levered ones.
- Throw a garage sale and sell all that stuff she's accumulated. Unless your mom has already been through the downsizing process, I guarantee she owns more stuff than she needs. Holding a garage sale and getting rid of it is a lot of work. Help her do it, and then maybe she'll take you to brunch and pay for it with some of the money she made.
- Help her create a living will and a health care power of attorney. This isn't a substitute for a will -- she ought to have that, too -- but it will allow you to make tough but loving decisions on her behalf if she can't make them herself.