Author Topic: WWYD? Parents & future financial security, I could intervene now, should I?  (Read 4633 times)

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Backstory: I don't manage my parents finances, but I have access to 98% of it and I keep an eye on things (with their permission). Dad has dementia, and most of what's been lost is decision making, executive functioning, planning, some impulse control, etc. Mom has a mental block that she can't understand finances (I accept that she can't do math worth shit, but there's a difference between understanding finance basics and being able to add reliably). Mom pays the bills and does day to day stuff, dad always did big picture. Obviously, that balance has broken down, thus my entrance. I'm trying to help fill the gaps that dad used to. Mom is also overwhelmed, isolated, possibly mildly depressed, and not in the best health. She's getting cataract surgery this month, so fixing her vision we're hoping will help with some of the other issues. Whatever's left my sister and I have tried to address and haven't gotten anywhere. Ultimate fix will be them moving closer to me, where I can help facilitate creation of a social network, etc.

Dad still works. Not sure how much longer that will last (dementia sucks). Mom hasn't worked full time since I was a baby. She's been self employed for 20ish years, bringing in an average of 20k a year. Her business has slowly been dying out, and her big customer got into trouble so she's basically out of business now. She was bringing in anywhere from $1-3k a month from that customer, now it's basically $0. This has added a lot more financial stress to them. They've made average financial decisions, with a few pretty bad ones over the years.

Financially, they're kinda on the edge right now. I'm still finishing the analysis, but they're consistently a little bit cash flow negative each month. Thus, they're slowing adding credit card debt, to up about $15k now. This has not come out of nowhere, it's been a slow accumulation. There are two huge areas of cash outflow that if cleaned up would help a lot - food and cigarettes. They spend around $1k a month on food, I haven't done the math on the cigarettes because it's depressing. It's a lot though, mom is chain smoking now from stress. Sister and I have conceded that the only way to get them to actually quit smoking is going to be a complete lifestyle upheaval and change (which is coming - there will be a crisis with dad and they'll have to move). Mom has always done better when her routine is disrupted, and we'll need that advantage.

Food is the other problem. Mom doesn't like to cook, never has. She does like to eat out, but has always limited it/picked cheaper places to save money. Dad has never been the best cook, but with the dementia, it's a moot point now. He's not trustworthy without supervision in the kitchen, if nothing else because he'll ruin whatever he's making. Also, dad is overeating (common issue with dementia patients), but with the twist of he won't pull leftovers out of the fridge and eat them. It's like he's forgotten the fridge exists? It's weird. He goes through a ton of peanut butter apparently. The end result is they eat out a lot, and eat a lot of pre-made convenience foods. Plus dad eating about 25% more than what he should be, and a fair amount of food waste because something went bad in the fridge.

I don't think talking with dad is going to have any impact due to the dementia. But mom - well, maybe. Problem is can she actually make the changes needed to reduce expenses, and keep it going? 10 years ago, yes. Now? I'm highly doubtful about that, just based on the situation. I'm pretty sure that she's aware but doesn't know how to reset things.

My sister and I have been planning for a while that when the shit hits the fan, because it will, they'll move to my area and have to declare bankruptcy at some point. This isn't some day in the far off future, this is within the next 5 years, probably less. They will have SS, about $400 pension, and under $200k in 401k. At that point, I will be close enough to take an active role in food prep/choice which will help a lot with expenses.

So, what would you do? Would you try to intervene now? Just monitor the situation, knowing that bankruptcy is coming at some point?

Note: I haven't talked to my sister yet, but I will be. I did send her a message that there's some concerns, but hadn't finished going through everything yet. Probably next weekend we'll have a long talk about it. And no, there's no support network/friends/family close to them. It's one of the reasons we have no qualms about moving them 300 miles to my area. My sister is farther away than I am.

rubybeth

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1345
  • Location: Midwest
I'm not sure exactly what I'd do about all the financial stuff, but I wonder about the food issue--would they be interested in a program like Meals on Wheels that delivers their food in healthy portions? It would be like takeout, except come to them. I am not sure how much it costs, but I believe it's fairly reasonable, and could help with the various issues they have. If not Meals on Wheels, there may be other options depending on their area. In my state, there's also something called the Senior Linkage Line that you can call for services for seniors. There may be options that would help with their budget in other ways.

Frankies Girl

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2752
  • Age: 80
  • Location: The laboratory
  • Typical Ghoul Next Door
If you feel up to taking on the responsibility... then yes I would go ahead with getting your parents moved and taking over the finances as soon as it is possible to do so.

I would (in your same position) get a sit down with your sibling as soon as you can and discuss what you're discovering and work out with them what you both feel comfortable with, with a timeline of it happening within this year.

I would immediately start doing real research on where you'd move your parents, what resources are available for them, activities/senior centers, financial and respite care for both you and your mother regarding your father, and the exact procedures for filing bankruptcy.   

This is also dependent on the idea that both of your parents are okay with the idea of you taking over completely (signing you as power of attorney/whatever) and moving them and such. If they aren't okay with this, trying to force them into doing it (even if it would be for their own good and they would end up much happier/healthier) will be a nightmare.

I'm so sorry you're facing this with your parents. Do absolutely look into senior/elder care respite if you do end up stepping in tho. Caregivers (even family members that love the ones they are caring for) are subject to burnout and major stress without some breaks built in.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Rubybeth - I've done some research, my sister has as well, and there really isn't an option for food delivery. Where they live is severely economically depressed. There aren't a lot of available programs, and what is around is typically stressed to the breaking point. One of the reasons why we'll be moving them out at some point. 

Frankies Girl -
I do have POA (financial), my sister has medical. Since mom and dad are technically still competent, they're not actually in force yet. Meaning, I'm not working with banks under POA authority. I just log in using their info. If we need to do something, I'll either walk them through it, or wait until I'm in the same place as them and we'll both call whatever company. They'll give authorization for the company to talk to me and stay on the phone. It's clunky, but given the reactions we get it's not uncommon.

They're not bad enough yet to really take over and move them. Right now, I monitor finances and provide overall suggestions/assistance. Dad's stepped back almost completely, partially because mom has accepted my help. Really, we're sticking fingers in the dyke, stopping leaks while waiting for the whole thing to fail (said failure will likely involve medical personnel, and even possibly law enforcement depending on specifics. It's not unknown in the dementia world). So I do taxes and help with health insurance calculations. My sister handles most medical stuff because I suck at it, and she's got a law degree so she's involved for anything legalese. I only started monitoring their finances about 10 months ago, because mom was overwhelmed and receptive. Until that point, we knew there were concerns but didn't know the details. Now we know and it's not good.

Starting to look into housing, etc is a good idea. I can at least get an idea of the options out there. There is a senior center 2 blocks from my house I know, but moving in with me isn't necessarily the best option.

Dementia SUCKS.

rubybeth

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1345
  • Location: Midwest
In that case, I would not wait to make an action plan with them to move and try to get them on board with it ASAP. My parents are dealing with some of this right now with my grandparent and it sucks. I think it's better to do things sooner rather than later when dealing with dementia--if you wait too long, it gets harder because they can't remember where they are/why they aren't in their house, etc.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Main problem is, they CAN'T move yet. Money is a serious problem, and they need an income stream as long as possible. Dad still works full time, it's the only thing keeping him active. If they were to move, they'd be relying on SS and what little other assets they have.

Moving will be hard regardless - they have 2 cats, and dad doesn't handle change well. They came to my house for Thanksgiving. It took a week for dad to settle after they went home.

I could talk to mom about trying to reduce expenses, but would it do any good long term? Bankruptcy is going to happen, we have serious doubts if they can sell the house for enough to clear the mortgage even. Combine the house with all the credit card debt, and whatever medical debt they have (that's the one piece I don't see automatically, but I don't think they have any)...

They're not inclined to file bankruptcy. They SHOULD have done it 25 years ago, and didn't (massive bad decision there), so we have no worries that they'll file now without talking to us first. But as long as the current situation stays the same,  they'd just end up back in debt. They're cash flow negative. As much as I hate it ethically, it might make sense to just let them dig deeper into the hole. Realistically, fixing the underlying problems will not happen until they move near me, because I can then step in and handle the logistics that will save them money. Dad can't, and mom is out of spoons.

ysette9

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3184
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
How much longer can your father realistically work if he can’t even be trusted in the kitchen?

frugaliknowit

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1545
"My sister and I have been planning for a while that when the shit hits the fan, because it will, they'll move to my area and have to declare bankruptcy at some point. This isn't some day in the far off future, this is within the next 5 years, probably less. They will have SS, about $400 pension, and under $200k in 401k. At that point, I will be close enough to take an active role in food prep/choice which will help a lot with expenses".

What makes you think that the bleeding will stop when/if they move closer to you?  What makes you think if they have $15k in CC debt (now) that they will need to declare bankruptcy?  Do you know their "bleed rate"?

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
How much longer can your father realistically work if he canít even be trusted in the kitchen?

I have no idea! The problem in the kitchen is he "experiments", not that he's unsafe. So far. This isn't Alzheimer's, his symptoms are very different.

From what we know, he's well liked at work and is getting good performance evals. He's been there a VERY long time, I think 20+ years. There's indications that his manager/coworkers kinda know something's wrong, but are willing to cover for him. Also, when they've lost staff before they haven't always been able to hire someone new. It's possible that they'd rather have someone with limitations than no one at all. There's also an element of him faking it, I don't know how much he's able to pretend. I do know that the family is seeing more than we did a year ago, so at the very least his ability to fake it at home is declining.

Realistically, I think we've got 2, maybe 3 years left before he'll have to retire. And that's assuming progression is the same as it's been - not a guarantee with dementia.

former player

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3587
  • Location: Avalon
I'm wondering whether your focus is not in the wrong place by thinking primarily about the money.  To me (internet stranger, so big pinch of salt) the problem is that the current situation with your father has already got beyond what your mother can deal with without being stressed out to the max, spending money she doesn't have and smoking to help her cope.  I think that's the real problem here.

Your mother probably already needs more help with caring for your father.  I've just seen a good friend's mother go through caring for her husband with dementia: there was a lot of denial right up to the end, and a lot of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion which will take years to recover from, and that was with adequate (although overly cautiously spent) resources.  I think there may very probably be some big social, financial and emotional barriers to getting your father the care he needs in order to lift some of the burden from your mother, and no easy way around them.  But I think that's the most immediate problem.

As to the financial issues, social security for the two of them plus a $4,800 a year pension plus lets say $7,000 a year from the 401k is modest but liveable, depending on what the social security is.   Neither your father nor your mother is in a financial or practical position to do any serious maintenance on the house which makes it a wasting asset: they need to sell it as soon as they can and look at low income housing/senior's housing.  Whether that is where they currently are or nearer to you or your sister is up to your parents, but does need to take into account what services will be available to them for your father's care.



Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
"My sister and I have been planning for a while that when the shit hits the fan, because it will, they'll move to my area and have to declare bankruptcy at some point. This isn't some day in the far off future, this is within the next 5 years, probably less. They will have SS, about $400 pension, and under $200k in 401k. At that point, I will be close enough to take an active role in food prep/choice which will help a lot with expenses".

What makes you think that the bleeding will stop when/if they move closer to you?  What makes you think if they have $15k in CC debt (now) that they will need to declare bankruptcy?  Do you know their "bleed rate"?

The bleeding falls into 3 main categories: food, cigarettes, and the house. They own a duplex, rent out half. The rental income effectively reduces their housing payment to $350 a month. But the house is old, and requires maintenance/repairs. In the past, mom and dad did most of that themselves. That's not possible now, so they have to hire things out. That's expensive. Plus, there have been a couple of bigger things (new roof) done, and there's some bigger things that need to be done (rebuild front stairs - safety concern).

Getting rid of the house would stop a lot of big drains. Moving closer to me would allow for more efficient grocery shopping and I can help with bulk cooking, etc. Mom doesn't want to cook, but she's perfectly happy to eat at home rather than a restaurant. Plus, there's better services in my area, so meal assistance might be possible.

In terms of bleed rate, it varies. Some months it's almost breakeven, other months (that I've looked at so far - I'm not done) up to $500. Mostly in between so far.

In terms of bankruptcy, I don't particularly feel like further jeopardizing my parent's financial security to pay off debt that they really can't clear. My sister and I are already contributing money and time, I want to minimize the money at least. I don't think this will happen until after they sell the house though, or give it back to the bank if they can't manage to sell.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
I'm wondering whether your focus is not in the wrong place by thinking primarily about the money.  To me (internet stranger, so big pinch of salt) the problem is that the current situation with your father has already got beyond what your mother can deal with without being stressed out to the max, spending money she doesn't have and smoking to help her cope.  I think that's the real problem here.

Your mother probably already needs more help with caring for your father.  I've just seen a good friend's mother go through caring for her husband with dementia: there was a lot of denial right up to the end, and a lot of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion which will take years to recover from, and that was with adequate (although overly cautiously spent) resources.  I think there may very probably be some big social, financial and emotional barriers to getting your father the care he needs in order to lift some of the burden from your mother, and no easy way around them.  But I think that's the most immediate problem.

As to the financial issues, social security for the two of them plus a $4,800 a year pension plus lets say $7,000 a year from the 401k is modest but liveable, depending on what the social security is.   Neither your father nor your mother is in a financial or practical position to do any serious maintenance on the house which makes it a wasting asset: they need to sell it as soon as they can and look at low income housing/senior's housing.  Whether that is where they currently are or nearer to you or your sister is up to your parents, but does need to take into account what services will be available to them for your father's care.

You have hit the nail on the head. Yes, mom needs more help. We're doing what we can, but we live hundreds of miles away. She's resistant to doing anything more, or different, right now. Our hands are tied. Dad hasn't been forced to retire yet, and until that happens we think mom will fight tooth and nail to keep things from changing. We're assuming that there will be a crisis which will allow us to step in and actually fix some of the underlying problems.

The extended family attitude doesn't help. "Disability" and "mental illness" is a shameful thing (considering that half of them are alcoholics...) . They denied that my grandmother had dementia until after the Sheriff called Adult Protective Services and they forced the family into action. She'd been wandering off several times a week for months before that happened. Once the crisis hit, the family got their acts together very quickly. We're trying to head that sort of problem off at least.

Lis

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 774
You're right, dementia sucks. It's incredibly difficult - for your father, for your mother, and for your and your sister. I'm sorry.

Financial issues aside, moving your dad is going to be difficult because he's most familiar in that house. My mom temporarily moved my grandmother into her house, just to see how she would fair and to see if it could be a permanent thing, and for a multitude of reasons, it couldn't. My grandmother stayed in her own house until it was too unsafe for her to live alone (my grandfather had passed years ago), and then she was moved into assisted living where there was 24/7 staff to watch over her.

Is there any possibility of you or your sister moving out and living in the other half of the duplex? (The answer can be no - it's not wrong to not upend your entire life.)

Sending positive thoughts your way - the situation sucks and I'm sorry.

Rocketman

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 105
Here is one item to consider - you may not need to declare bankruptcy once your parents move closer to you. If all there assets are judgement proof then it does not matter if a creditor gets a judgement they canít enforce it. Talk to your sister about this - legal matter.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Lis - Yes, moving dad would be tough, but I think it's do able. He takes his lead from mom, and once you throw their cats into the mix they can have a dramatic impact on dad. Once of the cats in particular has a pretty good track record of calming dad. Of course, that cat has never lived anywhere else either!

Either of us moving to them isn't an option. We both have support systems where we are now, and don't in our hometown. My sister can't get a job in her field there (just doesn't exist), and I have no interest in living there ever again. Plus, my income would drop by at least 1/3, probably more. Realistically, moving them into an apt near me is probably the best option, assuming the money works.

Rocketman - I will ask my sister to look into it, thanks. I have no idea.

Frankies Girl

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2752
  • Age: 80
  • Location: The laboratory
  • Typical Ghoul Next Door
Here is one item to consider - you may not need to declare bankruptcy once your parents move closer to you. If all there assets are judgement proof then it does not matter if a creditor gets a judgement they canít enforce it. Talk to your sister about this - legal matter.

Yup. My understanding is that bankruptcy may not interfere with most retirement accounts and pensions. Some states offer slightly different protections, (like traditional/Roth IRAs aren't protected 100% in some states, but for instance in Texas, they all are - no touchy!).

It really sucks to consider they'll need to declare it not if but when, but it may be something to consider going forward sooner than you considered since it sounds like your mom is really at a breaking point and your dad might need more help than she has the ability to give herself.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/retirement-plan-bankruptcy-chapter-7-13-32410.html

Again, so so sorry about all of that. I can't imagine how your poor mom feels and you and your sister being so far away and trying to figure out the right way forward and when to move on it... really terrible.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Thanks @Frankies Girl, we've been watching this coming for a long time and trying to prepare. It sucks, it really does. In the later stages especially, it's ugly, and it's fully capable of destroying a family.

I've asked my sister to research if their assets would be judgement proof. It's not her area of law at all, but she's going to see what she can find. If nothing else, we both have benefits at work which may help find an appropriate lawyer.

We're planning on chatting this weekend, she knows high level what I'm seeing.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8196
  • Location: Seattle
Look into assisted living options.  If he doesn't have an official dementia/ALZ diagnosis, you might be able to get by without memory care for awhile yet, but you should only look at places that have it, and see if you can find any that will allow residents to switch to medicaid funded programs once they have lived there awhile.  In the assisted living place where my mom was for her last 10 months, existing residents who had paid for at least 2 years could stay on medicaid support if their money ran out at that point.  And while they didn't offer memory care officially, the staff did everything they could to keep even those with pretty severe dementia issues in the facility -- I only knew of one person who had to leave, after she was physically abusive to the staff and other residents (throwing/breaking things in the dining room).

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Lhamo, we're familiar. Don't know specific facilities in my area yet, but I have resources for info. Dad isn't anywhere near that bad yet luckily. I don't remember what the diagnosis is currently, but it's more of a placeholder.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8196
  • Location: Seattle
I hope you can find a place that will eventually accept medicaid.   If so, then their 401k money should hopefully last long enough for them to qualify.  Here in expensive Seattle my mom was paying about $2500/month for a small studio with three meals a day and weekly bathing support -- once she needed more intensive hands-on care the cost more than doubled (that included med management, escort to meals, on-call help any time she needed to get up due to fall risk, and welfare checks every 2 hours -- monthly bill for those services alone was going to be around $2600, plus the $2500 for room/meals).  You'd probably pay more for a larger unit and for meals for two people, but in a Lower COL area it might not be TOO bad.   If other places have a similar 24 month cutoff for medicaid eligibility 200k in the 401k should last you that long.

Good luck.  This is hard stuff but it will only be harder if you delay things and they really do totally run out of money.  I would push for making the necessary changes sooner rather than later as long as you can find a suitable place.   Be sure to ask for the annual inspection reports for any facilities you are looking at -- they will ALL reveal some problems, but the key is seeing how the management responds to your interest in seeing them and how they deal with any questions you have.  Once place we looked at tried to pretend the reports didn't exist and delayed me getting access to them for days.  We didn't go with that one.   The place we chose was able to explain how some of the issues in the report were related to staffing/management issues that had since been addressed.  And some of the things that were cited in the report for the facility we chose were actually things where the management had been trying to make things easier/better for residents (punching a hole in the wall between two units inhabited by residents who had coupled up while in the facility without getting building permits, for example).   I really liked that violation!

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3523
She's getting cataract surgery this month, so fixing her vision we're hoping will help with some of the other issues. Whatever's left my sister and I have tried to address and haven't gotten anywhere. Ultimate fix will be them moving closer to me, where I can help facilitate creation of a social network, etc.
My mom and grandmother both had this, and they said the same thing:  The very minute your doctor recommends it, schedule it.  It was wonderful for both of them.

Food is the other problem. Mom doesn't like to cook, never has.
She might be a good candidate for once-a-month cooking (or batch cooking).  You can find LOTS of recipes online, though you (or your sister) might need to lead the process.  Buy a bunch of aluminum tins from ebay (very cheap) and ziplock bags, then spend a day or two with your mom putting together meals that can be thrown into the oven (or crock pot) for instant results.  I personally love this type of cooking because you work once ... but eat several times.

I'm not sure exactly what I'd do about all the financial stuff, but I wonder about the food issue--would they be interested in a program like Meals on Wheels that delivers their food in healthy portions?
Meals on Wheels was a wonderful thing for my grandmother.  Not only did she get a (large) healthy lunch delivered to her house 5Xs a week, but someone was in-and-out of the house every day, and she appreciated the small visits.

Since you anticipate they'll move to your area, I suggest you start NOW investigating the elder-services in your area.  You might be pleasantly surprised. 

Be sure to investigate home health care.  My now-RN daughter worked home health care while she was in college, and IF you can get a good CNA assigned to you, it's a great thing.  She worked for one brother-sister household that had the system figured out:  She worked for the brother, and she went to their house twice a week -- always in the evening -- to help him with bathing and to do simple food prep.  The sister had a different worker who came twice a week -- always in the mornings, and not the same days as the brother received services.  So the sister had help with bathing and food prep two different days. 

As for money, no chance you'd get them to give up the cigarettes? 

« Last Edit: January 09, 2018, 03:05:45 PM by MrsPete »

GizmoTX

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1247
My mom absolutely refused to give up cigarettes; she said she didn't want to fail quitting. She quit cold turkey the day she was diagnosed with lung cancer & emphysema. We were able to get her some treatments for quality of life which helped, but she died less than a year later at age 70. I'm still a bit angry that she did that to herself, & am concerned about all the secondhand smoke I inhaled as a child.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Food is the other problem. Mom doesn't like to cook, never has.
She might be a good candidate for once-a-month cooking (or batch cooking).  You can find LOTS of recipes online, though you (or your sister) might need to lead the process.  Buy a bunch of aluminum tins from ebay (very cheap) and ziplock bags, then spend a day or two with your mom putting together meals that can be thrown into the oven (or crock pot) for instant results.  I personally love this type of cooking because you work once ... but eat several times.

I'm not sure exactly what I'd do about all the financial stuff, but I wonder about the food issue--would they be interested in a program like Meals on Wheels that delivers their food in healthy portions?
Meals on Wheels was a wonderful thing for my grandmother.  Not only did she get a (large) healthy lunch delivered to her house 5Xs a week, but someone was in-and-out of the house every day, and she appreciated the small visits.

Since you anticipate they'll move to your area, I suggest you start NOW investigating the elder-services in your area.  You might be pleasantly surprised. 

Be sure to investigate home health care.  My now-RN daughter worked home health care while she was in college, and IF you can get a good CNA assigned to you, it's a great thing.  She worked for one brother-sister household that had the system figured out:  She worked for the brother, and she went to their house twice a week -- always in the evening -- to help him with bathing and to do simple food prep.  The sister had a different worker who came twice a week -- always in the mornings, and not the same days as the brother received services.  So the sister had help with bathing and food prep two different days. 

As for money, no chance you'd get them to give up the cigarettes?

Mom is not going to do bulk cooking. Best chance for that is me or my sister. I live 300 miles away, sister is further. With dad overeating that adds its own challenges. At some point they'll need to put a lock on the pantry. (Before anything thinks that's cruel - this is a common problem with dementia patients, and it's not a matter of a few extra cookies. Locking up the food is one of the methods of coping with the problem until they're out of that stage.)

I'm aware of the world of home care, etc. We're not at that stage yet. I am taking steps to get up to speed in my area. I expect it to be somewhat limited, but much better than where they are now.

Mom's tried to quit smoking and has given up at this point. She's using it as a crutch for her emotions. We've tried to get her into counseling, she went once, decided she'd gotten everything she needed and thus was done. Yes, she's incredibly stubborn.

NoraLenderbee

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1251
I'm wondering whether your focus is not in the wrong place by thinking primarily about the money.  To me (internet stranger, so big pinch of salt) the problem is that the current situation with your father has already got beyond what your mother can deal with without being stressed out to the max, spending money she doesn't have and smoking to help her cope.  I think that's the real problem here.

Your mother probably already needs more help with caring for your father.  I've just seen a good friend's mother go through caring for her husband with dementia: there was a lot of denial right up to the end, and a lot of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion which will take years to recover from, and that was with adequate (although overly cautiously spent) resources.  I think there may very probably be some big social, financial and emotional barriers to getting your father the care he needs in order to lift some of the burden from your mother, and no easy way around them.  But I think that's the most immediate problem.

As to the financial issues, social security for the two of them plus a $4,800 a year pension plus lets say $7,000 a year from the 401k is modest but liveable, depending on what the social security is.   Neither your father nor your mother is in a financial or practical position to do any serious maintenance on the house which makes it a wasting asset: they need to sell it as soon as they can and look at low income housing/senior's housing.  Whether that is where they currently are or nearer to you or your sister is up to your parents, but does need to take into account what services will be available to them for your father's care.

You have hit the nail on the head. Yes, mom needs more help. We're doing what we can, but we live hundreds of miles away. She's resistant to doing anything more, or different, right now. Our hands are tied. Dad hasn't been forced to retire yet, and until that happens we think mom will fight tooth and nail to keep things from changing. We're assuming that there will be a crisis which will allow us to step in and actually fix some of the underlying problems.

The extended family attitude doesn't help. "Disability" and "mental illness" is a shameful thing (considering that half of them are alcoholics...) . They denied that my grandmother had dementia until after the Sheriff called Adult Protective Services and they forced the family into action. She'd been wandering off several times a week for months before that happened. Once the crisis hit, the family got their acts together very quickly. We're trying to head that sort of problem off at least.

I'm sorry you're going through this. My mother had Alzheimer's and my father was her main caregiver. He refused help until he was so exhausted and stressed that we could force it on him. (They got a home health aid to help with bathing and dressing and to be with her during the day. Eventually he admitted it was a good idea.)

Would your mother be open to any assistance at all with chores? Someone to come in and cook (maybe bulk cook and put meals in the freezer)? It's not a huge change, maybe she'd be open to it. In a depressed area, there should be people willing to do this for a reasonable amount.

As others have said, with dementia, it only gets worse, never better.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Nora, we've been urging mom to have housecleaners come in. She tried it a few times several years ago, but decided she didn't like how they cleaned so stopped. Never mind that she doesn't clean currently. Ugh. Good news is a lot of that problem has been her eye sight, and the cataract surgery is fixing that. She'll see better than me when everything settles. The first eye went from -7 w/other problems to +.7, so it's a pretty dramatic difference. Once she can see how dirty the house is, that should help at lot.

She'd be fine if my sister or I went in, but that's not logistically possible. They have no family or friends in the area who could help. We could probably find someone to come in that mom would be ok with, but I'm pretty sure dad would object. If dad doesn't like it, mom won't do it. (Not getting into that one.) And I don't think mom will do the logistical stuff to make it happen anyway - she's overwhelmed. Which means me or sister, and we would have a very difficult time

Can you get the sense that I'm frustrated and my hands are tied? They won't or can't do stuff. They won't get rid of furniture and dishes and stuff that has been sitting unused, in boxes, for over 20 YEARS because "FAMILLLLLY". Mom won't go to therapy to help her deal with things. Won't get a housecleaner, even if sister/I pay for it. Won't even try to understand the finances, taxes, insurance. Won't or can't budget or stop eating out. Dad's spent a career buying lunch at work, I have no idea why mom didn't put an end to that 35 years ago. And now dad won't take lunch.

Nothing significant is going to change until there's a crisis and we can force some drastic changes. Sounds like you went through the same. The lead up though....

NoraLenderbee

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1251
I get your frustration. it is really hard when they are so stubborn and refuse to stop digging their own graves.  It's not unusual to have to wait for a crisis to force their hand. I think your situation is worse than mine was--my parents were well off, and my father could be persuaded if handled carefully (my sister was especially good at dealing with him). His biggest hurdle was just acknowledging that my mother was no longer who she had been and wasn't going to recover.

Meanwhile, all you can do is deal with things as they come up. And make plans for how you'll handle it when the crisis does come. It sucks . . . but it's doable. And you're not alone.

okits

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7476
  • Location: Canada
Sympathy to you, Sibley.  You (and your sister?) are so young to have been worrying about this for years, already. 

Since they can't or won't do more things to help themselves, and are medically competent adults, I think your only real course of action is to prepare for the inevitable crisis and spring into carefully-planned action when it arrives.  And, until then, make peace with the idea that this is the best you can do for them.  They are grown ups who get to make their own choices, even if they seem like terrible ones. 

Coming to a place of acceptance is a journey, but a worthwhile one.  Events will unfold as they will, but your response to them can be so much calmer, gentler on yourself and everyone else, and effective because you've boiled down to the most pragmatic actions.

(I am so glad your dad is still working.  Mental and social stimulation for him, a sense of normalcy for everyone.)

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Sympathy to you, Sibley.  You (and your sister?) are so young to have been worrying about this for years, already. 

Since they can't or won't do more things to help themselves, and are medically competent adults, I think your only real course of action is to prepare for the inevitable crisis and spring into carefully-planned action when it arrives.  And, until then, make peace with the idea that this is the best you can do for them.  They are grown ups who get to make their own choices, even if they seem like terrible ones. 

Coming to a place of acceptance is a journey, but a worthwhile one.  Events will unfold as they will, but your response to them can be so much calmer, gentler on yourself and everyone else, and effective because you've boiled down to the most pragmatic actions.

(I am so glad your dad is still working.  Mental and social stimulation for him, a sense of normalcy for everyone.)

That's exactly what we're doing. Doesn't make it easy. Especially since we're easily 10-20 years younger than when you expect to deal with these issues. Our peers in general don't really understand the issues.

civil4life

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
    • My Journal
Sorry for your situation.  Dealing with aging parents cannot be easy.

It seems like first you need to get through the analysis of their situation.  Then look to some professionals to discuss the best options moving forward.  What assistance is available there now in the interim and in the future near you.  Once you have some possible plans of action you could start to discuss them with your parents.  No matter what they are it will require big changes.  If you are able to break them down into smaller steps overtime it will be easier for the transition.  Some professionals I would consider is an elder social worker in their area that may be able to assist in finding appropriate assistance.  It may be easier for them since they would be familiar with your parents area and provide local knowledge.  You could work with same where you are at.  Probably consider seeing a bankruptcy attorney now to see what the best option would be for when they enter bankruptcy.

Is there anyway you can take complete control of their finances.  Giving them a set amount they can spend in a month to keep them from hemorrhaging any more?  Or at least get them to see the problem and see if they can self correct?

Overall there is a lot of planning, research, and moving parts to the situation.

Good Luck...Keep us posted.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
I finished the analysis the other night. For 2017, they were in the red overall about $1500. Month to month swung a lot, with some months very red and some firmly in the black and mostly in between. Food/restaurants was around $8k for the year, and cigarettes around $7k.

I can't take over finances. I can only monitor and make suggestions, help with specific things. Dad I don't believe is capable of understanding or correcting. Mom I think can understand the problem, but it's her ability to make changes I doubt.

We've worked with an attorney specializing in elder care to address some issues. It helped, but mom isn't willing to make a couple key changes and dad just thought he was being attacked. The cat intervened, which sounds funny until you realize that the cat really did defuse what could have been a really bad situation simply by sitting on dad and demanding to be petted. For an hour. After avoiding the whole meeting for 2.5 hours. And the cat doesn't sit on people in general.

And yes, dealing with aging parents is the pits. I'm slightly amused that there's at least 3 threads going right now regarding aging parents, all very different situations. All I can say is, if you're not dealing with it now, pay attention. You may be later.

Spicolli

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Age: 51
  • Location: California
Would your dad happen to be a veteran? If so, there are lots of programs that can help from what I've heard.

Frankies Girl

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2752
  • Age: 80
  • Location: The laboratory
  • Typical Ghoul Next Door
Oh man... that sucks!!! I read the latest and sort of had a stomach drop on your behalf.

I hate that you and your sister are basically stuck right now, when if they'd just freaking let you step in, everything would be fixed up and both your parents would be out from under the stress and on the way to being happier and healthier. I can just imagine how absolutely hair-tearingly frustrated you must be right now.

I do hope your mom comes around soon since she's the one ultimately that could make the decision to let you and your sister step in. But what a terrible, hopeless feeling of being frozen out when you know you could do so much to better their lives.

BIG hugs. Hang in there and keep gently working on your mom, and I will be hoping nothing serious/awful happens as a catalyst in the meantime.

Phoenix_Fire

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 59
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Phoenix
Sibley, hang in there. Iíve seen the other parent posts and will probably have one of my own up soon. Taking a while to write it up. Itís tough dealing with family. In some cases they donít want the help or arenít receptive to it, in others itís abused, and sometimes they take it and just coast, not asking for more, but also not doing anything to improve the situation (what Iím going through).

Itís hard to get people to think logically when their emotions take over. Once someone is asked to change a behavior, they can get defensive, depressed, angry, afraid, or who knows what. I think that it is overwhelming for some people to contemplate change.  Your mother probably knows that reducing the eating out and smoking would help, but as you said, itís a crutch.

The one good thing is that you know this is coming so you can at least research and prepare as much as possible.  Itís a helpless feeling not being able to implement the changes now, but with a plan in place, or perhaps several with options, you will be able to deal with it when it reaches that point.

Good luck, Iím sure weíre all sending some positive thoughts your way.  Your post inspired me to start writing mine, just taking a while and got more complicated yesterday.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Dad was in the army, but didn't deploy. We haven't even looked into if there might be anything there. Realistically though, there's nothing they can do right now that would help. Aides aren't needed (yet), etc. Dad has Medicare Part A, but haven't really used it for anything. It's kinda in the background while he's still got insurance through work.

Phoenix - whatever your flavor of aging parent stress you've got, there are people who get it. Also, humor really helps. Sometimes you either laugh or cry, and laughing is usually a better option. Unfortunate side effect is people think you're nuts. ;)

civil4life

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
    • My Journal
You did not have to be deployed to benefit from veteran's services.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3173
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Thought I'd update everyone. I talked with my sister today. She agreed with me that mom would not be able to make lasting changes to reduce expenses without one of us helping, and doesn't see how that assistance would be logistically possible right now. Sis says that mom is well aware of the money problem, and has mentioned several times that she needed to get a job (which would be helpful yes, but we really don't see it happening due to physical challenges). For now, we're just going to observe and help when we can.

We also discussed potential bankruptcy for them. She's looked into it, and it appears that at least some of their assets could be subject to judgement. We're also concerned about the ability to sell the house. We agreed that bankruptcy is in the future, but given the budget problems currently and future house repairs that we're aware of, for now it's best to hold off. Likely it'll happen whenever they sell the house (or give it to the bank) and move closer to me.

I've been doing some research into services in my area. What I saw looks decent, and there's a nonprofit that exists to help coordinate and educate. There is a progressive living community about 15 minutes from my house - ranges from independent living through to skilled nursing. They also have a memory care section. That may be a good option in the future. There are some other facilities a little further away.

Also talked to mom and dad on unrelated stuff, but I can confidently state that dad's ability to understand taxes has decreased significantly from last year. So, awesome? /s Last year, I did everything, pdf'ed it and sent it to dad to "review" while I actually efiled for them. Thinking it'll be similar this year.