Our Mother is 70 and working from home now. She has asthma and eventually will not be able to take care of herself. She is bitter (divorced) and has no money or preparations for her next phase in life. We (her 3 daughters) are not wealthy, but know we need to come up with a plan (financially). Mom refuses to talk about it and could care less that the burden has fallen on us three. Where do we start in this process?

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The conversation with my parents about this subject typically goes like this-

Me: Mama, have you and Daddy given any thought to what you will do if one of you breaks a hip or gets seriously ill? Your house is not handicap accessible.
(and there are many steps to get into the house).

Mama: (with a joking/smirk on her face) Aren't you coming to take care of us if we need you?

Me: No. I live over an hour and a half away.

Mama: Aww. Well you can just come stay here for awhile. I think I hear someone outside. (she gets up to look out the window, knowing nobody is there)

Me: We need to discuss this

Mama: Oh look! A SQUIRREL!!!!

Daddy: Stares straight ahead, twiddles his thumbs and silent prays this conversation will end soon.

Helpful Answer (16)
jacobsonbob Jul 2020
I can picture this situation, and suspect it happens in a LOT of families.
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Carmen, why do you think it's you and your sisters' responsibility to pay for your mother's care as she declines? SHe's had all her life to prep for it mentally, emotionally and financially (divorce or not). Paying for her care will break the bank of all 3 of you, not to mention the hands-on help you seem to be assuming onto everyone. It is loving of you to be so concerned but in reality it will be a dumpster fire. The most you can do is encourage her to assign someone (or more) as her durable PoA. This will allow you/sisters to legally manage her care. If she doesn't assign this then you will be forced to stand on the sidelines and watch her decline IF she is one of those seniors who slips into dementia and refuses all sorts of help that is obviously needed. With no PoA there are only 2 pathways forward: you/your sisters pursue guardianship through the courts, costing thousands of dollars and a lot of time/effort; or you call APS on her when things get really bad and then county takes guardianship and family has no more control over where she lives, what care she receives, any of her financial accounts, etc. This is the reality. In some state Medicaid does pay for some or all of AL, but she will need to research this and hopefully she will qualify. It is important to know that she should no be gifting you money or assets since the Medicaid "lookback" period can be as long as 5 years.

You are not responsible for her happiness. You shouldn't have any expectations that providing her care personally and financing it will make her less bitter. If she is currently depressed, this should be addressed by her doctor. At 70 and still working she can get the maximum amount of her SS. FYI if she was married to a husband for 10 years she can apply to receive HIS social security amount, even if he remarried. Call first to know the specifics. She will need to make an appointment at the SS Admin office near her and bring an original copy of her marriage certificate and divorce paperwork. There is much to know so poke around this forum on the different topics. I wish you much success in encouraging her to plan for her future wisely.
Helpful Answer (14)

Barb is 100% right.
Not knowing how well you and your sisters get along - hopefully well enough to do this - but were I you, I would start by having a (private) meeting with my sisters, in which we pledge to each other that NONE of us will assume mom's caregiving, nor expect EACH OTHER to, based on things that *usually* decide which child mom ends up living with - most money, emptiest house, most convenient to doctors, most accommodating spouse, etc.
Then, as a united front, confront mom and tell her where you stand. Your mom is only 70. That is not to old for her to take an ACTIVE part in planning for HER future. Granted, it's probably too late in the game for her to accumulate significant savings, but that doesn't knock her out of any future care BESIDES family. Make very sure she understands this. "Mom, you can either participate in finding out this information, or we will decide *together* without your input, based on YOUR financial means and availability of care facilities. You might end up in a place that we think is adequate, but you hate. But please understand that living with *ANY* of us is not even up for consideration. So it's really in YOUR best interests to take an active part in this planning.
This is not an easy conversation to have. It is even *harder* to do. You and your sisters need to be absolutely sure that whatever you say to mom you are all willing to follow through with. You will also need to be there for each other, in the event she starts a "divide and conquer" type of campaign. And to hold each other up if she starts with a guilt trip.
What you need to be assured of - and assure your sisters of - is that her failure to plan is HER failure, not yours.
Good luck!
Helpful Answer (12)

You need to find out if mom's state's Medicaid program has a program by which they will pay for AL or in home care. Sometimes these are called Waiver programs.

It may be worth mom's while to get a consult with an eldercare attorney who is knowledgable about Medicaid in her state.

Remind yourself and your sisters that mom's lack of planning does not constitute an emergency for YOU.

When mom demands that you guys care for her or wants to move in with you, you need to remember to say firmly "no, mom, I can't possibly do that". Do not make excuses or dance around your "no". Make your position clear.

I'm sorry if this sounds heartless. It's called knowing your tolerance for craziness and having healthy boundaries in your life.
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ArtistDaughter Jul 2020
Good advice, except I would just like to point out that there are many people who work their entire lives on minimum wage and cannot make the sort of plans you refer to. It is not the responsibility of their children, I agree, to financially care for them in their later years, but it is also not necessarily the fault of those who do not have resources for their own care. It is not always a lack of planning, rather the circumstances they have been unfairly dealt.
You don't need to pay for her care. When things get bad enough, you can call a state social worker, the social worker will assist in finding a place or in home services suitable for mom that Medicaid will cover, but you and your sisters do not have to pay from your money to cover mom's expenses. You can start now by contacting your local area on aging agency.
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XenaJada Jul 2020
Sadly, not every area has a "helpful" agency on aging. I've contacted one here in central Ga. Took days of calling and leaving messages to get someone to call me back. I was then led into a tail-chasing exercise in futility of one person putting me off to another one. I finally gave up.
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Dear Carmen, no the ‘burden has NOT fallen on you three’. You DON’T ‘need to come up with a plan (financially)’ or indeed any other way. Your mother is 70, I’ve just turned 73. Planning this for me and my DH is no-one’s responsibility except for me and my DH. For your mother, still working, and from the sound of it with only asthma as a health problem, it’s HER responsibility. OK you DO need to tell her that she will not be moving in with one of you and you will not be funding her care. So many people seem to think that either they will die peacefully in their sleep with no prior problems, or that their children are their plan. She needs to know that’s not so. I’d suggest the three of you put it in writing and keep copies. Don’t provide any chance for her to think that you’re not serious.

While you are all a bit vague and worried about this, mother is not going to take seriously the fact that she needs to work on it herself. Be clear and be firm. Bitter or not, the sooner she knows, the better your chances of getting her to do something sensible.

In your shoes, I would research Medicaid and local facilities, so that if she does nothing you have some idea of what comes next. But keep quiet about it, and stick to the letter of your letters!
Helpful Answer (11)

Sometimes, elders won't talk about it and the decision gets made by default. Picture an elder with two sons. Elder mismanaged money and assets more than what would even seem possible... but it didn't bother HER any because she assumed she would move in with one of her kids when the time came. In their defense, the kids DID try to get her looking at alternatives for when the inevitable day came that she could no longer live in her house. Elder would not discuss, but constantly dropped hints that she expected (free) lodging with one of her sons. If either son "owed" the mom anything, it was the older one and he also had an extra bedroom in his house. Perfect? No. This son was the first to say NO that mom could not move in. Mom was stunned. Younger son also said no. The very sad reality was that SO much time had elapsed with no decisions getting made and mother could no longer manage her home. She had deteriorated so much that even a small apartment or AL would not have worked either. She just waited too long and no decision got made until she needed 24/7 care. Very sad. Someone else put her in the NH since lady's sons could not. A salvage company assisted with getting the house ready to sell. There were no winners, but this is what can happen when there is no planning or fruitful discussions regarding one's future. Truth be told, even if she HAD moved in with a son, her medical needs would have eventually become too great. She was not allowing for that reality. By the way, sons did not pay for NH and I don't think OP should attempt to do so either. In my area, NH is around $8000+ each month. I don't know anyone who even earns that much in a month, so expecting kids to pay for parent's NH is not realistic for the long term.
Helpful Answer (11)

Your mother doesn’t have dementia if she is working from home. Let her figure it out. Just let her know that none of her kids are going to take care of her in the future. If she has no money she can get Medicaid. My mother is 96 and lives in her hoarded house all by herself. Why? Because she wants to and she still has her mind. She’s competent. She gambled all her money away years ago. Not my problem. It’s her problem. She wants to die at home. Period.
Helpful Answer (10)

Dear Carmen 1950,

Back in 2014 when my mom was 89 and in the early stages of Alzheimer's, I had no idea what to do or where to turn which made me feel very overwhelmed and upset. I finally ended up calling our local "Area of Aging Agency" (it might be called something else depending on what state you are in) and gave the person who answered the phone a brief idea of what I was looking for and they found the appropriate social worker for my situation. Then, I set up an appointment to talk with them in person. They can give suggestions etc.

In my case my dad had passed away ten years earlier and my mom had continued to live in their home which was paid for. I already had been going back and forth from our house to hers for those ten years and could no longer do it. I tried every avenue to keep her in her home as those were her wishes. None of them worked for mainly two reasons: 1) She did not like having strangers in her home and 2) She couldn't afford help seven days a week and one day wasn't enough. So in our case the only option was to move her into an IL/AL facility, clear out her house and put it up for sale in order to be able to pay the monthly rent at the facility. She had several sources of income other than Social Security - some were from when my dad died and some were from having worked in the school system until 71 years old - it just wasn't enough as any facility is expensive. I've seen ranges anywhere from $3,500 to upwards of $8,000. Also, I had to find a facility that would accept ALTCS (our state's Long Term Care System) if she were to start running out of money. For us, we would have to have her in the same facility for a minimum of two years in order to qualify and apply for ALTCS and her money would have to dwindle down to $2,000. Since then, I've been able to put a large sum from the sale of her house into a Money Market so it would earn money each month but, yet I could have access to it as needed without a penalty which wouldn't be so with her CD's she had. We had her CD's staggered and when each one would come up for renewal, I would eliminate it and just keep it in her regular checking account.

Unfortunately it's not uncommon for a parent without a plan to not only be unwilling to discuss it but as in your case leave the burden to fall on you and your two sisters. My husband is the only one who works so we are not financially able to do things for her either. I sure hope you can come up with a plan in order to deal with the issues at hand and for what will come further down the road. I'm assuming you have all the proper paperwork i.e. Power of Attorney Forms - Regular, Durable, Financial, Health along with a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) form and I have Living Will/Advanced Directive Forms as well. These will be needed as you continue to start taking the reins for your mom. I wish all of you the best as you begin the process going forward!
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Stand back . . let her figure it out. It's HER life. Not yours. You do NOT need to come up with a plan for her. That's HER job. It's HER life.
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