Your parents are getting older. Are you ready?

Chances are that you, as a woman, will be the one taking care of your elderly parents when they can no longer take care of themselves. In fact, 54 percent of caregivers in Canada are female versus only 46 percent of males. (And if you think this trend’s purely based on family economics, think again — moms are increasingly becoming the family breadwinners in this country.)

Given these realities, along with the fact that health care costs are now on the rise, you may be worried about a future where you have to forego your career and financial security to step into this role. And you wouldn’t be the only one: Almost half of women with salaries more than $100,000* are indeed concerned. The good news is that with diligent planning, it can be possible to take care of both your folks and your own financial future. Here’s how to get started:

Make a plan
With a career and a family, it can be difficult enough to squeeze out time for a workout, let alone an appointment with your advisor regarding your financial future. However, it can be worth the effort if it helps you avoid losing your way down the road. A solid financial plan and regular check-ins with your advisor can help you balance your own priorities with those of your family ― especially as they change over time.

Mitigate risk
It’s a good idea to start thinking about how you’ll handle being a caregiver long before you actually are one. For instance, do your parents have long-term insurance? It can help to pay for their needs in retirement and also cover some of the costs of a nursing home or professional in-home care, which in turn can help you reduce the tasks you’ll need to take on. You may also want to create an emergency fund so you’ll have sufficient cash at the ready should an unexpected crisis arise.

Save, save, save
Your savings strategy can help you set aside finances starting now. In particular, you’ll want to explore any tax-advantaged savings options that are available to you, as they can help you reach your financial goals faster.

For example, if you’re an executive or business owner, you may be able to take advantage of a company-sponsored RRSP and make contributions through payroll deductions, which will reduce the amount of your income that’s subject to income tax. If you’re self-employed, you may want to consider a TFSA — the latter can benefit from tax-free growth and withdrawals if certain requirements are met.

Work towards a lasting legacy
If your parents don’t have a comprehensive legacy plan, it’s something they should consider, as it can help reduce both the tax costs and complexity of managing any estate that may one day be left to you. If they own a professional practice or business, this can make the situation even more complicated. Talk to them about succession planning, which can help you get the appropriate value out of the business they’ve built, as well as help you pay for their care in the future.

* Burns Kingsbury, Kathleen. How To Give Financial Advice To Couples: Balancing High-Net-Worth Partners’ Needs. McGraw-Hill, 2013, page 88