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Advice Needed - Moving Elderly Parents
Old 05-03-2019, 07:48 PM   #1
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Advice Needed - Moving Elderly Parents

My mother is 92 and getting feeble. She has a hard time going up stairs and needs someone helping her walking outside of the house. She can't get in and out of the bath tub and now uses a walk-in shower. My father is 88 and has been helping her, but now they have mentioned that he is starting to have trouble with the stairs also. I think I am a little ahead of the curve but need to start planning to move them.

I brought the topic up tonight and I was surprised that they liked the idea of moving into a one level, two bedroom unit. I thought my father would object because he likes living in the house and the associated privacy and freedom.

They have virtually no savings, get minimal social security (not sure but possibly about $25k per year together - may be wrong but not much more if I am off). They own their current house clear, but it is not very nice and probably will be hard to sell and I would be surprised if it gets $100K. So, I guess I might have to help them now or later.

I have a few ideas (options) and I am hoping that someone can stop me on the stupid ones or provide some advice.

1) There is a house coming up for sale two houses away from mine. It is a split level with four or five stairs going up to the bedroom section. The idea occurred to me to buy it and put my parents in there. Some have said that if stairs are an issue, even four would be a no-go.

2) Similar idea, but look for a small one level house in the area. Buy it, probably make some elderly modifications, etc.

1-2) One downside seems to be that I would get stuck with the house, tie up funds and not know how long they could live by themselves. If my father dies, my mother can't live alone.

3) Look for some sort of elderly housing two bedroom unit. I just started to do an internet search and saw what appeared to be several places claiming to be for elderly and claiming to have some sort of income adjusted pricing. I have no idea how that works. Would assets from the sale of their house disqualify them? I assume there would be a waiting list to get in.

4) Look into something more "assisted", like a place where they had an apartment with an option to move to a more drastic situation when needed. One 95 year old guy at church moved to a place where he as an apartment in a big building that might be linked to the nursing home next door. He told me that he pays something like $7000/mo, but I am not sure if I got that right. That seems too expensive, especially if they would expect me to pay that for each parent.

5) Try to move them into my house, which is a two story colonial. I would have to temporarily convert the living room and dining room into bedrooms on the first floor. We would still have a kitchen table area and a half-bath on the first floor. I would have to do something to build a walk-in shower like they did (not much room to put it) and my septic system is shot, so three people might be an overload. Not to mention the possible irritation of all of us living together.

6) One friend suggests a variation of plan 5, buying a new house for me that is more suitable to having the parents living there and that would be more aging friendly for me later on. Two problems with that are that I am pretty settled in my house with lots of stuff and if I were to move I might want to move out of state and am not quite ready to make that jump.

I should mention that I am 62 and single.

Well, sorry for making such a long post. Thank you for sticking with it if you made it this far. Any comments or advice will be appreciated.


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Old 05-03-2019, 09:40 PM   #2
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I would not go 5 or 6 myself...

They are only going to need more and more help as they age... it is better to find an assisted living place that has different levels of care you can buy... some do have a 2BR option, but that is probably going to be too expensive..

A question... was either in military? From what I understand you can get a pretty good benefit for assisted living if they were military...

What we did when mom was having some problems was buy a condo that had an elevator and security... we were hoping to get 1 to 2 years and were surprised we got 8... after a couple mom could not drive so we hired help to take her to the gym 3 days a week, to the store etc. we would take her out once or twice a week to eat and bring over to our house...

She is now in memory care and is going downhill... now requires a wheelchair... I would not want to try and take care of her needs 24/7...

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Old 05-03-2019, 09:51 PM   #3
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We bought DM a close by 2 bedroom condo in an elevator building. She also only had a small SSI check. After about a decade she started to decline. She was able to get part-time care that was paid by Medicaid. As her needs increased, she was able to increase the home care hours. Since she was close i was able to take her out, visit, help in whatever way.
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Old 05-03-2019, 10:02 PM   #4
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1) is out of the question. They are likely to become less mobile and 4 stairs is 4 too many. I remember when my mom had a walker last year before her death and when the mobility went, it really went. She struggled with the walker (this was in a matter of weeks).

If your housing market is reasonably OK, then 2) is a pretty good option. Depending on your parent's health you need to be aware that this option might only work for a few years. Renting a house in your neighborhood might be a better option. Renting an apartment in a seniors only apartment house might work. The income based ones often do have a waiting list.

They probably can't afford assisted living. Eventually one of them may end up on Medicaid. If you can't afford option 2) then option 5) might work. Just before my mom died we were going to move her in with us. It can work.
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Old 05-03-2019, 10:35 PM   #5
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Your time frame is not as long as you think it is. You are not ahead of the curve.

With only Social Security for income and less than $100k tied up in a house, there are not a lot of good options. Subsidized senior housing in your area might be a possibility, but the deterioration in their ability to maintain daily activities may preclude this. They are not ready for a nursing home, and Medicaid will not buy them a nice place anyway.

A nice assisted living facility is beyond their means. Would it be possible to bring in some part-time help at their current house to buy them and you some time? In the meantime, you can investigate subsidized senior housing and nursing home options.

Any house you buy or work you do to your house is creating a nursing home or assisted living environment for them. You will need paid help to care for them at some point. That could be more expensive than the other options. It may simply not be possible to do this on your budget.
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Old 05-03-2019, 11:55 PM   #6
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$7000 a month is not out of line.
Your state might pay you something for being their primary caregiver, given that they have disabilities. You want to move to another state -- check out that state's subsidies.

Check out property tax breaks for elderly & "homestead." You might want to have THEM buy another suitable house to get these breaks. You could loan them money to avoid a mortgage, because they are going to become a non-deductible expense for you and a mortgage just depletes your family $$$. Move in with them. If you have enough $$$ then they can get a house large enough to suit you after they move out or on.

But compare that with getting a minimal monthly payment mortgage, planning to only own the house for 5-10 years after which they will move out/on and you will sell it.

Run the numbers on what their tax bracket is vs yours, especially after medical expenses. Gift them money to invest so they fill their lowest bracket if it is lower than yours. Minimize taxes in terms of the whole family.
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Old 05-04-2019, 12:23 AM   #7
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I would not put any property purchased for them to live in in their name. This could create issues down the road if one or both need nursing home care and they own a home. Better to put it in your name so they can qualify for Medicaid with no hassles.
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Old 05-04-2019, 12:40 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Another Reader View Post
Your time frame is not as long as you think it is. You are not ahead of the curve.
agreed. It really helps to get at least a little while in a Assisted Living facility before you change over to Medicaid paid. You can get a decent AL and stay there rather than go straight to a Medicaid place. I have been in a straight Medicaid facility right after it closed. It was dismal.

Just thought of another option. There are small homes that take care of folks. Like 2-5 people there. The folks get a bit more personal care in that environment. Maybe look for something similar?

We heard from AL & Memory care facilities that every move puts a 25% decline on the patient. I would try to minimize the number of moves
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Old 05-04-2019, 03:11 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Another Reader View Post
A nice assisted living facility is beyond their means.

A practical one may be within their means. Depending on where they live, there may be a government subsidy for low income elderly. The hard part may be for the parents to agree to move into such a place.

5) & 6) will end up being a full time & stressful job if the op is willing and able.
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Old 05-04-2019, 04:37 AM   #10
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The future can change rapidly for the elderly, so I would go with option 5. At 92 and 88, your parents could need assisted care in the near future. Option 5 gives you flexibility in that regard - you won't be buying any other property.

It may be difficult to talk your parents into it. My 90 yo MIL is supposed to be moving in with us soon. It took several years for her to agree to it.

Best wishes in making this work the best for all involved.
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Old 05-04-2019, 04:56 AM   #11
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You parents need help and it's wonderful that you are looking out for their interests.

If you all live in the same town, talk with the local Council on Aging or even start at the Senior Center. They often can direct you to local resources for the elderly such as senior housing options.

Depending on how feeble they are, they may need assisted living now, or soon. While that is expensive, selling their home, using their social security, and some help from you may get them into a place. Eventually, Medicaid can take over.

At least start looking into these options now.
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Old 05-04-2019, 05:29 AM   #12
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My parents are in there 80's, and are in a similar situation as OP. I'm heading back to Ohio in a couple weeks to tour a couple of communities. Trying to convince them to get a plan in place, and figure out what to do before they are forced into doing something. Many of these places have wait lists too.
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Old 05-04-2019, 05:37 AM   #13
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I went thru this exact same thing. You need to think in terms of only a few years. Mom broke her hip at 92, diagnosed with dementia at 93, and died at 95 from pneumonia. I would look at a rental in a retiree community.
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Old 05-04-2019, 05:48 AM   #14
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Since you are single at 62, 5/6 sound the best. If you were married I'd say another house, but you aren't.
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Old 05-04-2019, 06:13 AM   #15
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A caution on changing title on the house, to enable medicaid qualification. Learn about the 5 year lookback.

Is an autolift staircase a possibility?

Depending on the size of the house, is it possible to make changes sufficient to allow living on one floor? ie. Converting the living room into a bedroom?

Most states or communities have centers to provide advice and assistance for the elderly, as this one, in our area.

It is extremely important to keep in mind the increasing fragility of older persons, particularly with respect to adjusting to change. Moving in with (parents/children), is possible, but can be very disruptive to the lives of both, depending...

A very difficult situation, but with the ever increasing lifespan, all too common.

Our hearts go out to you, with best wishes for the best outcome possible.
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Old 05-04-2019, 06:16 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by joesxm3 View Post
Well, sorry for making such a long post. Thank you for sticking with it if you made it this far. Any comments or advice will be appreciated.

Joe, you’re a good man, it’s thoughtful of you to want to help care for your parents. The feedback in this thread so far looks good, so I have a couple of comments not directly related to your list of options.

At this point in their lives, things can change very quickly for your parents, especially regarding their health and mobility. It would make sense to avoid longer term commitments that require time to pay off.

Many assisted living facilities (ALF) around the country have a mix of self-pay and Medicaid pay patients. A common approach many ALFs follow is to require new residents to afford at least 3 years of self pay before relying on Medicaid. It would make sense to conserve as much as possible of your parents house cash value to finance those 3 years, if possible.
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Old 05-04-2019, 06:18 AM   #17
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Every situation is different but I went thru this a few years ago with my parents. I don't think you are ahead of the curve at all. Matter of fact it sounds like something should be done immediately. Personally, I'd go with something like option 4 (assisted living) asap if money isn't an obstacle and your parents are okay with the move. And 7k+/mo seems about right for a reasonably good assisted living facility based on my experience in this area. You can easily pay more. Try not to sign a longer term contract "at least until" they have lived there for a while. Some of these "places" are much better than others.
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Old 05-04-2019, 06:53 AM   #18
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Been through similar. Chose the addition to current house for MIL who at 80 was no longer able to work retail, had only $14k a year SS.

It was not fun. DW and I have a great marriage and it did not affect our relationship, but it certainly created issues. As the MIL aged (had colon cancer one year in, surgery, and the following 7 years were a slow decline) the burden on us became considerable. Maybe it's petty of us but the greatest issue was her NOT doing anything (physical therapy for example, or using walker properly to avoid falls) to stem her decline and never really showing any appreciation for what we did. Lines were crossed like, we wouldn't do adult diapers, etc. Finally, when the falls became too frequent we placed her in a facility for which her resentment became huge. Our chuckle between the two of us was "Hey, we KNOW we're good people, aren't we?"

This all ended about four years ago and given alternatives available can't say we're sorry for having done it. But for you let it be a cautionary tale; if you go something like this route be prepared. One thing I remember clearly is I wished we'd drawn some lines very early; for example that once a week we'd go out without her. Her moving in was too much like she's visiting...permanently. When she was in walker and insisted she was capable of flying to Africa with us to visit our son, well, we did draw a line there.
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Old 05-04-2019, 07:42 AM   #19
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Thanks to everyone for the informative and prompt replies.

One thing I did not mention is that I currently live about an 80 minute drive from my parents (assuming no traffic problems).

They have a neighbor who has saved me from having to do snow removal for them the past two years, but either getting them into a place where it is taken care of or a place close enough for me to do it seems mandatory.

If I have to go there several times a week, it does not seem like a three hour round trip is going to work out very well.

I may be overestimating their capabilities, or underestimating the speed of decline. Parents have a way of hiding things, so I may not have a full picture. The advice about getting things moving soon makes a lot of sense.

They have lived the whole time in their own house in a rural setting, so I suspect that my father would not be too keen on getting into a large building with elevators. One of their main sources of entertainment these days is looking out the window at the bird feeder and my father still does a lot of puttering in the yard.

They seem to be talking in terms of moving to a smaller place on one level rather than into an "assisted living facility". The way that sounds might be too drastic for them to want to do.

If my mother were alone, she would probably be a definite candidate for an assisted living place like the kind with a little room or apartment with a common dining area etc.

As far as trying to rent them something, one stumbling block seems to be the need for a walk-in shower. That would seem to limit us to some sort of elderly-care rental place, no?

I will definitely try to locate support resources this week so I don't flounder on my own and will start making a survey of places in a radius around where I live. I serve Mass at a nursing home once a month, so I suppose I could ask the manager there for some advice and can contact the places I locate and ask questions.

I will also try to go see the parents and have some more detailed discussion around this and try to pry more information on condition and finances.

Thanks again for the advice.
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Old 05-04-2019, 07:59 AM   #20
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My Mom moved into a one bedroom apartment that was for independent living but she had the option to move to assisted living if needed .She did have health aids to help her shower at about age 96 .At 99 she was placed on hospice in her apartment. They managed all her care and it was totally covered by Medicare . Your parents are passed the time to move to a small house and really need to be somewhere with the option for more care as needed . A lot of places will accept people who are self pay and then go on medicaid .The sale of the house should buy you a little time.

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