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Taking care of elderly parents
Old 02-18-2013, 01:49 PM   #1
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Taking care of elderly parents

I have just started in my path towards ER. My husband is 36, myself 33. I plan to do my 20 and retire from the Army, but we are saving like I won't be getting retirement just in case. We plan on ERing in 15-20 years.

I know eventually my mom will be relying on us for support financially and may move in with us. She has only100k in her 401K, and with SS and pension she will be getting about $3500 month. She is 56 now and plans to retire in the next 2-3 years. I am assuming that her husband (who is 62) will die first. The $3500 includes 60% of his pension when he dies. No healthcare, no longterm care insurance.

My question: what are some strategies for retirement planning when you expect to take care of an elderly parent? Other than save save save!

Thanks for the wisdom!
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Old 02-18-2013, 01:55 PM   #2
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It doesn't seem like your mom would need help with $3.5k/mo coming in. Between the ACA and later Medicare, she should be able to get affordable health insurance. Why do you think she will need help?

Having said that, we help my MIL (she has onlyn$1200/mo income) as well as a special needs grandchild (sandwich generation big time here). All you can do is guess at the expenses and put it in the planned RE budget.
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Old 02-18-2013, 02:09 PM   #3
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I do believe that in most instances children should help parents financially if they need it. That said - I'm not sure why you think your mom will need it. She evidently doesn't think she will need it if she plans to retire at 58 or 59. I'm that age now (semi-retired) and won't retire fully until I feel a have enough to last me for the rest of my life (my DH is also a few years older).

$3500 a month is $42000 a year which while not lavish wouldn't seem to impoverish someone so much that they would move in with a child. My own mother lives fine on much less than that. She may end up moving in with us but more for health reasons.

A few questions on your mom's situation:

1. Does her husband have any 401k or IRA and, if so, who will inherit it?
2. As for healthcare - why won't your mother be eligible for Medicare?
3. Does your mom own her own home? Is there a mortgage on it?
4. What does your mom think? Does she think she will be dependent on you in later life? If so, why? If so, why is she retiring?
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Old 02-18-2013, 02:44 PM   #4
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We're in full sandwich mode right now. Built a detached granny flat for the in-laws. They lived with us for 6 years, about half of the year. But now MIL wants to be in a different state than us, and from where she currently has a paid off home. FIL needs to be in a nursing home. She wants to save money on the nursing home... but at 86 she can't do the in-home care anymore.

That said - I did their taxes last year - they had about 42K of income, and spent $20k. This is because they have a paid off house and live very frugally. (This was before FIL was in a nursing home.) So they were still growing their income, even on a fixed income.

Now we're trying to help MIL make decisions that will manage what assets they have - but still provide adequate care for both. Aging can be expensive, especially if you factor in dementia, being wheel chair bound, etc.

Your mom is young enough that she should look into LTCI now. That the nest egg killer.
If she's got an inexpensive living situation, $3500 should be fine. Lots of people here are living on less. If she's still carrying a large mortgage... maybe it won't be enough.

For us - we are doing our best to be good kids - trying to help the in-laws. And if it comes to financial help - we will. We tried to offer a safe living environment with lots of support.

What does your Mom see as her future needs?
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Old 02-18-2013, 04:04 PM   #5
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Being the good SIL I am in 2006 I built an addition for MIL, who was still working part time at 80, on retail floor. Her back was shot, she had/has no assets other than SS. After one year had colon cancer, surgery took care of it. Has since been a roller coaster ride of falls, cat bites (yes, her cat bites and she gets infections), neurological problems (tremors) and bad prescription management for same, and just general decline. We pretty much have to be here for all her meals. Twice a year we can leave her with BIL but since he and his wife work they are reluctant to take for much time. This is very aggravating as son is in Africa, daughter with grandkids in London.

We're 61/62 and watch her and think, that's us in the near future, we need to be getting out there and do more travel and things away from here. Yes, I know there are eldercare services but it just isn't that much of an option for us given situation and DW's attitude. I'm OK with it (well, barely) but it's just frustrating. We busted a. all these years, have pension/assets that FIDO says we can be spending another 50% a year than now, but we just can't. I know it won't go on forever, but more than once we look at each other and say "My goodness, she's going to outlive us!"

Anyway, not looking for sympathy or offering advice other than a cautionary that things sometimes don't work out like you expected. That usually applies to money or health, neither of which is a problem for us. I used to joke with co-workers that I'd continue working as long as MIL was with us; I retired as I'd had enough. So now we're sorta stuck in limbo. Oh well, there are far worse fates and that is in part why I read the paper every day!
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Old 02-18-2013, 05:15 PM   #6
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I'm in a little different situation in that the in-laws are FI but FIL is 79 and losing his vision and really shouldn't be driving but the state just renewed it. MIL is developing dementia and can't leave the house alone anymore because she forgets where she was going or how to get back home. On top of that, she had polio as a child and that is coming back to haunt her in her legs. She is finding it difficult to get up and down stairs and the laundry is in the basement. We have gone over on more than one occasion to find cat littler boxes in desperate need of attention. We've tried to get them to just look at a nice assisted living facility but they are having none of it. We've tried to suggest that it would be best to select a place they like and would be happy with while they have time and the faculties to investigate and choose but, again, they see no need to do anything. Very frustrating as one of them will end up falling and breaking a hip. FIL is highly resistant to change and doesn't want to spend money needlessly. The good news is they have well over a million in assets and have been spending way less than earnings for years. Try to tell FIL that money is not an issue but he can't make the leap to spending after saving his entire life.
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:08 PM   #7
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My best advice...take care of your own financial needs first. Whatever plan you have for retirement, stick to it as best as you can. You will not be able to care for someone else if your financial future is in jeopardy.

As far as what the future will bring...who knows?

Don't forget to enjoy your youth along the way.

(btw, I'm old enough to be your mom)
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Old 02-18-2013, 07:45 PM   #8
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I'm in a little different situation in that the in-laws are FI but FIL is 79 and losing his vision and really shouldn't be driving but the state just renewed it.
...
FIL is highly resistant to change and doesn't want to spend money needlessly. The good news is they have well over a million in assets and have been spending way less than earnings for years. Try to tell FIL that money is not an issue but he can't make the leap to spending after saving his entire life.
It was a process with my Dad. We had to talk about it for a few years. He had to have (thankfully!) a minor accident with the car. He had to get lost a few times and have a scare or two.

He didn't go into the senior living singing, but he went willingly. He also gave up the car after a lot of back and forth. My dad's insurance agent was a gem. He knew my dad was of the Greatest Generation, so he suggested to me to explain to dad just how much a car costs per year (1k insurance, 1k gas, 1k depreciation and maintenance). When dad realized it was $3k a year, he gave it up in order to "save it for us." He forgot just how much it was costing.

Also, on our visits to the various senior living places, we always had a meal. He loved everyone one of them. (And they were pretty good in my opinion too.) The food finally sealed it for him. And once he moved, a few wins at bingo really put a smile on his face.

It also helps that his costs are covered by SS and his pension, and possibly some veteran benefits. Look up "Veteran Aid and Attendance". We're still working through that application. All Dad cares about is that his assets are not depleting. Before this, he was still "saving for us." We don't care, we want him comfortable. Somewhere, he finally accepted that it was OK to not be saving anymore, but it took years of discussions!
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:31 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by tkopel View Post
My question: what are some strategies for retirement planning when you expect to take care of an elderly parent? Other than save save save!
Make an appointment with an elderlaw attorney, and soon. Expensive, but worth it. They've seen it all, know what can go wrong, and how to (mostly) head off the rough spots.

We're going through the last stages with FIL and the power of attorney that DW has for her father alone has been a huge time saver, opens a lot of doors, and by itself has been well worth the the fee to have it written. Even something as mundane as a change of address at the post office was made easier.

The alternative is go to court and have a judge declare the person mentally incompetent. That is (as it should be) a high bar to clear and may not be granted. If it isn't someone is going to spend a huge amount of time running paper forms back and forth for the parent to sign.

The other biggie is a health care directive and it is important to have that done while your parent is still coherent. Not that all will have dementia, but the probability is high. And if the person is unconscious or on so many medications they cannot make rational decisions about their care the results can be ugly. Those are the situations where someone is on life support for years because no one dares "pull the plug" for fear of liability or they just don't know what else to do.

And, of course, a will. Explain that if there is not a will the State will decide how the estate is divided and they will probably not like that outcome.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:36 AM   #10
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[QUOTE=Katsmeow;1285503]I do believe that in most instances children should help parents financially if they need it. That said - I'm not sure why you think your mom will need it. She evidently doesn't think she will need it if she plans to retire at 58 or 59. I'm that age now (semi-retired) and won't retire fully until I feel a have enough to last me for the rest of my life (my DH is also a few years older).

$3500 a month is $42000 a year which while not lavish wouldn't seem to impoverish someone so much that they would move in with a child. My own mother lives fine on much less than that. She may end up moving in with us but more for health reasons.

A few questions on your mom's situation:

1. Does her husband have any 401k or IRA and, if so, who will inherit it?
nope, nothing but the pension

2. As for healthcare - why won't your mother be eligible for Medicare?
I'd rather not depend on Medicare for her nursing home care. We have already taken care of my Husband's grandmother, and the places medicare would have put her were horrible. She fortunately had the ability to pay for a nice full care facility, but it did cost $6000/month and this was in Idaho. We were also able to move gramma in to live with us the last two years of her life and pay for an in-home nurse during the day. Call me paranoid, but I would like to have more flexibility than letting the govenment decide where she gets to live, and be able to pay for in home care if possible. (this coming from a Soldier!).

3. Does your mom own her own home? Is there a mortgage on it?
the plan is that they will sell their home in California and be able to make a down payment on a home in Kentucky. This should give them a lower mortgage

4. What does your mom think? Does she think she will be dependent on you in later life? If so, why? If so, why is she retiring?
I figure as soon as her husband passes we will move her closer to us, in her own home or an assisted care facility or something. I don't want my mom living in the back country of Kentucky alone! I don't think she will have a problem with this. Honestly she has not thought much further than the moving to Kentucky part.

She should be fine as long as she can live on her own. The part I am most concerned with is the end of life care, in home costs, nursing home care, the stuff not generally covered well by Medicare.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:46 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by JoeWras View Post
It was a process with my Dad. We had to talk about it for a few years. He had to have (thankfully!) a minor accident with the car. He had to get lost a few times and have a scare or two.

He didn't go into the senior living singing, but he went willingly. He also gave up the car after a lot of back and forth. My dad's insurance agent was a gem. He knew my dad was of the Greatest Generation, so he suggested to me to explain to dad just how much a car costs per year (1k insurance, 1k gas, 1k depreciation and maintenance). When dad realized it was $3k a year, he gave it up in order to "save it for us." He forgot just how much it was costing.

Also, on our visits to the various senior living places, we always had a meal. He loved everyone one of them. (And they were pretty good in my opinion too.) The food finally sealed it for him. And once he moved, a few wins at bingo really put a smile on his face.

It also helps that his costs are covered by SS and his pension, and possibly some veteran benefits. Look up "Veteran Aid and Attendance". We're still working through that application. All Dad cares about is that his assets are not depleting. Before this, he was still "saving for us." We don't care, we want him comfortable. Somewhere, he finally accepted that it was OK to not be saving anymore, but it took years of discussions!
Well I hope it doesn't take much longer for him to see the light as this has been going on for two years now already. They get angry any time we bring up the subject. I think they equate assisted living with nursing homes and we're tried to dispel that notion by having them visit a couple but they aren't buying it. I know change is tough and that seeing your independence slip away has to be awfully tough but there comes a point where change is necessary and they are beyond that point.

I'm afraid one of them will have to experience an accident/injury before they see the light and I just hope it's not too serious when it happens.

I hope the OP finds solutions to their problems. None of this is easy for any of the parties involved.
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:00 PM   #12
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2. As for healthcare - why won't your mother be eligible for Medicare?
I'd rather not depend on Medicare for her nursing home care. We have already taken care of my Husband's grandmother, and the places medicare would have put her were horrible. She fortunately had the ability to pay for a nice full care facility, but it did cost $6000/month and this was in Idaho. We were also able to move gramma in to live with us the last two years of her life and pay for an in-home nurse during the day. Call me paranoid, but I would like to have more flexibility than letting the govenment decide where she gets to live, and be able to pay for in home care if possible. (this coming from a Soldier!).
Just to clarify this. Medicare has very limited nursing home coverage - 100 days (with copays for part of it) after a qualified hospitalization. *Medicaid* covers nursing home care for indigent people. So that's the program that kicks in once assets are depleted

Having done a lot of research on nursing homes for my in-laws. There are very nice homes that accept medicaid... and some that are awful. This is also true for nursing homes that don't accept medicaid. A home accepting medicaid does not automatically mean it's awful. We liked a medicaid accepting home better than a more expensive non-medicaid home. (Still paying out of pocket for now.)
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