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Claire Egan , Maine

The Cost of Caretaking

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Claire Egan is a single mother of three now-adult children from Maine. She spent ten years juggling work and raising children alone. She worked as a baker, owner of Threads (a thrift store), and then Zoe’s (a cafe and bakery).

As Claire’s widowed mother, Ruth, reached her 90s, it became apparent that as independent as she was, she would need care and would never want to live alone in a nursing home. Ruth was quite deaf at this point and dealing with complications from her bouts of colon and skin cancer. Claire moved to be with her mother to take care of her during her last few years.

Claire lived with her mother and provided meals and basic chores for almost two years. Claire continued some part-time work, but for the most part she was out of the workforce during those two years. She did not have healthcare or much of an income.

Between raising children, taking care of her mother and running small businesses, she will not have much to fall back on in her elderly years. She took care of her family when they were in need, but this meant that she had to compromise her ability to maintain steady work. She does not have a pension fund or much in savings and will rely solely on the only retirement security she has Social Security.