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Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-14-2007, 09:23 PM   #1
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Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

This post is partly in response to the topic on "anyone expecting an inheritance." I wish I were in his shoes. I'd like to hear from those of you who anticipate that you'll be supporting your parents as their health deterioriates or simply as their age increases. My parents are in their mid-70s and healthy now, but by no means well-off. My fear is that I will be in the "sandwich generation"--taking care of both my child and my parents. Fortunately, there are 5 siblings so costs would be shared. But my folks do not have any type of long-term care insurance and are too old to qualify and can't afford such. Any suggestions on how to alleviate some of the anticipated costs that would be involved in caring for aging parents?
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 11:34 AM   #2
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

I recommend that you take some time to get educated about this topic. When one or both need to go into assisted living or a nursing home expenses accelerate quite rapidly. Medicaid will only a person in a nursing home after they have only $2000 in assetts. For coverage down to that amuont the individual must pay. There are some provisions for shielding some of the assets for the remaining spouse to live on. IIRC the provisions can vary by state. Please do the reasearch before hand. It may make a significant differance in the quality of your parent's remaining years.
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 12:16 PM   #3
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

If you do need to move a parent to a care facility do so BEFORE their resources are depleted, and choose a facility that will accept Medicaid should that situation arise.

Consider for a moment if either belonged to a fraternal or religious group, some have senior care residences that will accept Medicaid but few will admit a resident who is infirm. Now, while they are healthy, research their options. DON'T wait until circumstances force a change.
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 12:41 PM   #4
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

I can't offer any advice, but I can empathize. I think I will be right along side you there in the "sandwich".

My parents on in their 60s and in relatively decent health, but not a penny saved for retirement and still working full time. They have not been frugal enough with their money.

I have not yet decided exactly how I will balance helping to support my parents against my plans for FIRE and taking care of my own family. I am not adverse to inviting my parents (or my in-laws for that matter) to live with my family, thereby taking care of their need for housing and food. I actually think there are some good things about 3 generations of family living together (although certainly there are challenges). And from a cost-perspective it makes a lot of sense.

That's probably the minimum I would offer; I would not want to see either of my parents in a nursing home unless it were their choice.

If my financial situation is better than my conservative estimate, I may offer to assist with housing and/or medical costs for them, leaving any other expenses up to them to figure out.
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 12:44 PM   #5
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

We went through this with the MIL in 2004/5.
1) Don't sign anything taking responsiblility
2) Get a power of attorney or even better talk to a lawyer to see what you will need. Make sure said lawyer is not getting on a bus in the mountains.
3) Make sure that their wills/trusts and so on are in place. That won't stop people from fighting but it will narrow the scope.
4) Costs were minimal because of Medicare and she got a BCBS supplemental policy.
Good luck.

On the other hand my parents are in good health and frugal so we hope to FIRE before anything goes wrong. My dad is threatening to get a Harley.
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 12:53 PM   #6
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

I'm going to get both ends of it.

My dad has a well funded retirement, is creeping up on 74, and will be virtually impossible to "help" or do anything for him until he decides its what he wants. He actively avoids telling me about things he needs to do or decisions he's going to make to avoid any possibility of my giving him any input or helping him. I predict a very interesting 10 years or so before I'll be providing at least some level of care thats going to be largely begrudged. Hey Nords, I'm looking forward to entering your world! :P I guess the good/bad news is that there is virtually no chance he'll move back to where we all come from.

On the other end, we have my wifes parents. My MIL spends like a drunken sailor on stuff that she doesnt need. House is 3-4 feet deep at all the walls with statues, dolls, odds and ends and paraphernalia of all descriptions. Where room at the walls has been exhausted, small islands are created and built up to eye level. Very large brand new motor home to replace the one that had nothing wrong with it. Financially subsidizes my BIL and SIL extensively. Although she works in medical, refuses to get a physical or see a doctor unless she's seriously injured, then ignores what they tell her to do. Both in-laws are overweight, eat poorly, exercise little, and drink enough to be of concern. The very minute she's unable or unwilling to work, the whole house of cards crumbles financially. Other than a small pension, a small 403b, and social security...no other savings or investments. My BIL and SIL, in their 40's, dont even have health care coverage for themselves or their families.

MIL is also the type to not admit any shortcomings or accept any help, if that can at all be avoided.

Tick...tick...tick....tick...

Wish I could say I know what i'm going to do. On one end i'm going to deal with a financially sound person that will only accept help if I use a baseball bat, at the other end, a financial collapse of an entire family...both probably in 10 years or less.

Hmmm...where are those Fallbrook real estate listings again?
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 12:56 PM   #7
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

Thanks for the good advice. I've talked to my parents about this some--enough to know that they don't have much of a contingency plan. My father, a "retired" farmer (in other words, still working the farm), has hung on to 40 acres of nice land and that's something he'd be forced to sell if either he or my mother required long-term care. We're all hoping that our saint of a sister-in-law will happily accomodate them in CA if the need arises
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 01:10 PM   #8
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

I don't know if I should feel lucky or not, my parents live in the house next door so I won't have that long distance worrying to do. On the other hand, they live next door and I'll probably end up being the caretaker at some point.

Dad will not discuss anything with me, I've been doing some subtle prodding and all I get is that look that says "don't go there." I'll keep pressing so I know what I'm in for but from the looks of things they will both be around for a while. Dads bother is 83 and still going strong, dad is 72 and more active than most 50 yr. olds I know. Stepmom is going to live forever, her dad is 92 still going strong and his father lived to be 104, he would have lived longer but a freak accident took his life.

My only worry is that once they are all gone my sister will think she should have the house or worse yet they will leave it to her and I'll end up with her as a neighbor. The thought makes my BP jump into dangerous levels.
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 01:33 PM   #9
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

I'm sure my dad, who is 84 and a widower, would love to have me move in with him and take care of his needs. He can afford assisted living, even though as a real tightwad he would prefer to have me provide it for free. But that's not going to happen.
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 02:34 PM   #10
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

Quote:
Fortunately, there are 5 siblings so costs would be shared.
You're sure about this one? Have you guys talked about it and nailed down the theory of sharing equally, if not the details?

When my parents put me down as their executor the first thing I did was share that fact with my siblings. One of my brothers seemed surprised and hurt by this, which surprised ME, as I'm really the logical choice. My point is that one never knows what feelings are out there.

Whether anyone ends up supporting them is a complete toss-up. My mother is 83 and my father 75. While they did save and have a small military pension between them, one just never knows. With the healthcare situation, the cost of long-term care, etc. etc. I am not assuming anything.
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 03:37 PM   #11
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

Yeah I wouldnt count on the cost sharing thing unless you all talk about it.

When my grandfather hit the home stretch and couldnt care for himself any more, all the siblings except my dad quickly disappeared and stopped calling until after he pass on. Then when it came time to pay for the funeral, same thing. Everyone showed up but nobody bought a check book.

Pretty lame if you ask me.
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 05:34 PM   #12
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

Article about family dynamics and eldercare/death.
=============================
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16542396/

Big sisters, little brothers, black sheep, Dad’s favorite — all the old roles, battles and rivalries resurface when a parent’s health is failing and decisions must be made.

With about 20 million Americans providing care for a parent or in-law, such family dramas — often with financial questions lurking unsaid — are playing out across the country
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 07:17 PM   #13
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

You're right about the unpredictability of human behavior. I saw my uncle lay claim to all my grandparents' possessions, despite never lifting a hand to help them in their time of need. I'm lucky that none of my siblings are bums and we all feel some responsibility to ensure that my parents will be taken care. I can pretty much guess how it will go. Older sister will be late with helping and find excuses. Older brother will be very generous. I'll try to play it fair and square. Younger sister will help while keeping a running tab of whose paying what. Younger brother is the wildcard. We're a pretty close family, but not the best at communicating. We've never held grudges so I think we'll manage. But yea, only time and circumstance will tell what really happens...
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 08:05 PM   #14
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

We expect to be helping out my in-laws, and I started a post about this issue recently that might be useful:

http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...?topic=11448.0

Our situation is that my in-laws live modestly and don't seem to overspend but also don't seem to save anything. My FIL has serious health problems due to diabetes complications and my MIL therefore has a substantial caregiving burden in addition to the two of them still working full-time. They are early-60's. My FIL will be eligible for SS but not my MIL, and they will both have small pensions.

Based on the feedback from others here, it seems as though they are probably ok except for possibly medical expenses, which is a big unknown. They are not currently of a mind to accept any help from us, but I hope that would change if they really needed it and to that end we have been initiating small conversations about finances, health insurance, etc., which over the past couple years has made it a little easier to talk.

I don't know that there's really all that much to do as far as planning, other than we are keeping in mind what our options could be for finding extra cash. I think we are just going to try and over-save a bit, or keep a cushion in our spending so that if we need to start helping on a regular basis we could do that.
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 08:35 PM   #15
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

My in-laws fortunately have the assets for their care but it is still not a slam dunk. There are conflicts with siblings about "forcing" the parents out of their home. There are the parents with various forms of dementia and mental limitations that don't want to lose their "independence." That means the want to stay in their old homestead despite being unable to do anything to support its maintenance or provide their own meals.

A few years ago DW discovered the electricity about to be disconnected. She barely managed to avoid that for her parents. She discovered they hadn't been paying any bills for months. Credit card balances were astronomical. They were giving immense amounts of money to their church. Most of their liquid assets had been "invested" in annuities.

She tried to get them to look at independent living. They wouldn't hear of it. SIL many miles away was so supportive of their goal to remain "independent." DW just needed to be over there more.

MIL fell and broke her hip. She'll now suffer worse than anyone would let their dog suffer until the day she dies. FIL was formally diagnosed with "late stage-early Alzheimer's." They are now in a "facility" but doctor and medical issues continue.

It's a mentally traumatic experience that takes a serious physical toll on you. It drags on and on. It's much worse on DW but I'm not unaffected.
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 08:59 PM   #16
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

Now would be a good time to try for their views on end-of-life issues ... would they want extraordinary treatment; do they have medical directives in place?
My late DM did not want to be bothered with a directive. Her answer was, "Oh, my daughter knows what I want." Her doctor finally told her, "I'm glad she knows, but I don't. And if something happens, there's no guarantee we can reach her. So if there's something you don't want us to do, tell us now."
It worked, she finally signed.
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 09:02 PM   #17
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

Luckily our daughter is grown and on her own; so the sandwich term doesn't apply at this time. However, my parents (Mother is 76 and Stepfather is 84) are near the phase where assistance may be needed. They have enjoyed good health and independence and are in good shape financially. Three years ago, we put MIL in a nursing care facility. She is 82 and doing well. She is wheel chair bound and had arthritis. We got her eyes fixed (cataracts) so she can see better. We visit her at least once a week and talk to her every day. She has adjusted well.

When we sold her home a couple of years ago, we consulted an attorney to advise us on avoiding the estate reclamation processes. In Texas, you cannot receive medicaid assistance if you have more than $2000 or so in liquid assets. One should investigate details like that in advance.

Now the state program pays for her care. She depends on us for the little extras she enjoys and we are glad to do it. She worked until age 72 after many years at the same company. She retired when mobility issues made it too difficult to get to work!
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-15-2007, 09:29 PM   #18
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caroline
You're sure about this one? Have you guys talked about it and nailed down the theory of sharing equally, if not the details?
My DW has five siblings, of which, one really helped and one helped some.
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-16-2007, 09:43 AM   #19
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

My dad and I sat down with the quicken willmaker and did ALL the papers. Medical directives, power of attorney, will, etc. He told me what to put in, I did it and printed it, he had a local retired lawyer look them over and say they looked just fine to him, had them signed and notarized and into his safe.

That was a very difficult half a day going through the options. The software wasnt too bad excepting the little bit of BS where it stops working after 12/31 of the year you buy it. At least we both know what he wants and who's going to do it.
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?
Old 02-16-2007, 10:30 AM   #20
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Re: Anyone expecting to take care of aging parents?

Trying to access the situation of elderly parents long distance is frustrating .My Mom (90) lives in Pa. and I live in Florida .I have a sister (a nun ) who lives in Pa. but it's not fair to have her doing all the work so I've hired a caregiver a couple times a week to help with grocery shopping ,laundry,doctor's visits ,etc. This seems to be working fine for now . It's assisted living at home.
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