Author Topic: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view  (Read 6249 times)

Sibley

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Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« on: December 12, 2014, 11:03:24 AM »
I'm recently converted, and am starting to implement changes in my life. I'm seriously worried about my parents, and wondered if anyone had any suggestions to help. I can't see much long term hope, so am hoping someone can!

Facts:
Me - 29, hair on fire, negative net worth, student loans/car loan/cc debt. I'm an accountant. I'm new to MMM, so be kind.
Sister - 26, even worse, and with pitiful income prospects once she actually earns an income.

Parents:
Dad is 62, working FT, earns I think about $50k per year.
Mom is 58, self employed, earns about $20k per year

Assets/liabilities:
Duplex house, they live in half, rent out half. Occupancy is difficult to keep due to local market. They need the rent to make mortgage payments without stress. The house is underwater, ARM, currently good rate, with a cap on the annual increase. It's actually gone down.
Student loans - for both myself and sister. I plan to pay off my share in the future (see above about my hair on fire). Sister will probably never make much money, but don't know her plans.
Credit cards, medical bills (mom had cancer a few years ago, but doing ok).
1 car, 2013 Chevy eco cruize. Dad takes the bus to work, mom limits driving due to gas costs. Special thing on the loan where if anything happens to dad's job, the loan is wiped out and they'd own it free and clear.
401k - dad has a few scattered about which I will consolidate and deal with somehow (advice on investments?), I'd be surprised if he has $100k though
Maybe a few thousand in savings.

In general, they're pretty frugal for non-MMM lifestyle, with some exceptions. Both don't like to cook much, so they go out 1-2 times per week, but to the local low cost places. Both smoke. They don't buy things much. 3 cats.

The elephant in the room, which will not get better or go away and will be a huge problem later, is that dad is in the early stages of dementia. It's not public knowledge yet because it isn't that bad, but it will get there eventually. Right now it's moving slowly, though this could change at anytime. However, he can't do things around the house anymore that he used to, can't do maintenance on the car, has to be supervised when cooking. Gets a little irrational at times, easily confused, etc. No family in the area, not a lot of local support.

Both are now turning to me for financial/tax assistance. Dad is responding better to me in this area, so mom is using me as a bridge to get through to him. I've fired him from doing their taxes due to the IRS problems this past summer where they ended up owing $2k due to a stupid mistake (the dementia showing there). Mom handles all finances, but is terrible with math and doesn't understand much beyond the basics. Dad has always done everything car related, mom just pays the bills.

I expect that they'll owe on taxes for 2014 and nothing I can do to change that via tax planning. Luckily, this will be their grace year so no penalties/interest from the IRS.

Any suggestions so I can help them avoid a flaming meltdown at some point in the future? Basically, as long as dad can still work, I can help improve things, once he can't it'll be damage control and picking up the pieces. I'm assuming that I will be significantly assisting to support them at some point in the future.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

mollyjade

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Re: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2014, 11:34:03 AM »
So sorry to hear about the dementia. It's soul crushing.

Remember they'll have social security and medicare eventually. And your father might qualify early depending on his ability to work going forward.

BlueHouse

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Re: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2014, 11:54:25 AM »
Sorry to hear about your dad. Let's hope it progresses slowly. My mom has had dementia for years but it's progressing very slowly and she's an expert at hiding it. Only those closest realize what it is. She's very functional.
As far as advice for the finances, there is usually plenty of time to worry about other people and I tend to want to do that to take focus off myself. So make sure to get your own house in order and then help your mom to LEARN new things. Make sure she's involved in decisions and not just doing what you tell her to do. This can be very healthy for senior minds to learn something new and become competent at it.   And it will also help you career wise because if you can teach a parent something, then you can deal with even the most difficult client!  Sorry no specific advice. Good luck

MayDay

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Re: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2014, 12:24:03 PM »
Has he seen a doctor? I don't know if the Alzheimer meds work on dementia but it's worth considering.

mxt0133

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Re: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2014, 01:01:31 PM »
First step I would focus on is their end of life documents if they don't already have that.   Will, health directives, power of attorney, seems very important in your parents situation.  Part of those documents is a list of all their accounts and assets.  With dementia in the picture it is important to have those prepared as soon as possible, in the event anything happens to either of your parents.

I want to emphasize what others have said get your financial house in order first before you start financially supporting your parents.  Learn as much as you can about any social services they might be able to qualify for in the event your parents can no longer work.

GizmoTX

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Re: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2014, 02:11:08 PM »
First step I would focus on is their end of life documents if they don't already have that.   Will, health directives, power of attorney, seems very important in your parents situation.  Part of those documents is a list of all their accounts and assets.  With dementia in the picture it is important to have those prepared as soon as possible, in the event anything happens to either of your parents.

I want to emphasize what others have said get your financial house in order first before you start financially supporting your parents.  Learn as much as you can about any social services they might be able to qualify for in the event your parents can no longer work.

+1

The will, POA, etc. MUST be done while each person still has mental as well as health capacity, i.e. NOW. Otherwise you will have to go thru a time consuming legal process that costs even more money -- this is not the place or time to be "frugal".

Is your sibling able to help with keeping an eye on them? How about one of you moving into the rental side of the duplex?


deborah

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Re: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2014, 03:54:05 PM »
I would definitely get a medical checkup for your dad - there are things like a lack of Vitamin B12, and D that mimic dementia.

Sibley

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Re: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2014, 06:25:46 PM »
I am definitely getting my house in order first - no worries on that! I estimate 2-3 years for me to clear my debt at current repayment levels, and I'm also making adjustments to increase those payments.

Mom's been dealing with all the medical stuff, no official diagnosis yet but that's not uncommon. All of the treatable things have been ruled out, but if you're ever in this type of situation you'll learn quickly that they're hesitant to make it official until it's pretty bad. The doctors did recommend getting all the paperwork done, so dad finally agreed to do it after several years of us asking. POA is done, the wills still need to be updated but we're still on them about that. Medical wishes, whatever form that is, is also taken care of. My sister is in law school, so she's on point for that sort of thing.

Sister and I are both in different states from them. Luckily hands on help hasn't been needed yet. They live outside Detroit, and with the field sis wants she'll end up in DC or international. I'm in Chicago, pretty happy here, and given the lack of resources where they are it would be better in the long run if they came to Chicago than me moving there.

paddedhat

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Re: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2014, 07:32:25 PM »
The will, POA, etc. MUST be done while each person still has mental as well as health capacity, i.e. NOW. Otherwise you will have to go thru a time consuming legal process that costs even more money -- this is not the place or time to be "frugal".


+100  My mother passed quite quickly and at a relatively young age (66)  By the time her dementia had reached crisis stage, the family was still unaware that her mental health was degrading significantly and quickly. By the time I took control of the situation, I had a clear path to follow after her passing, by virtue of her will. However, dealing with her on a daily basis was ugly. She was completely unable to manage her daily activities, much less make any important decisions about her future, but in her mind, she as still very much the corporate leader that she always was. I had the support of the medical professionals involved, but still would of had to petition the court in the even that I needed to settle any issues as to who was actually capable of decision making. In the end a lot of gentle handling be family members, and carefully controlling how much information she had access to, kept things calm as long as was required. That said, I can't stress how important it is to get everything on the table and in writing before it's too late. Good luck, and stay strong, it's a burden none of us should have to face, and it sucks.

GizmoTX

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Re: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2014, 01:03:03 PM »
See about getting online access to their bank & CC accounts so you can monitor what's happening. Authorized user, not owner -- you don't want their debt. See about their routine bills being put on as much automatic bill pay as possible, so they don't miss utility & mortgage payments.

It would really help their health, finances, & safety to quit smoking, but I understand how difficult this can be. My mother refused to quit until the day of her diagnosis of lung cancer; she correctly reasoned that she couldn't get treatment & continue to smoke. However, she was stage 4 & her "treatment" was to promote her remaining quality of life. She lived another year, the last half of it in our home, which we insisted on since DS was very young. She also developed severe dementia as a result of the ever increasing tumors in her brain, but fortunately radiation greatly reduced this for a time. At the end, we hired a night caregiver because she needed mobility assistance & could not be left alone.

When your dad can no longer work, your mom will certainly need help & may not be able to care for him. This is very difficult to handle long distance. I agree about them then selling & moving to Chicago near you, where you need to be & the medical facilities are good. They probably won't be happy about this; my MIL was angry for months when it became obvious that it was time for her to move from her house to a senior community apartment where she is monitored. We believe it literally saved her life, & she now can see all the advantages, but it's never easy to give up what used to be.


BetsyS

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Re: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2014, 01:58:26 PM »
A lot of workplaces will offer an "EAP" package as part of your benefits. See if yours has it and if they have anything that can help: some offer free will/estate planning or updates. A few years back ours included a deeply discounted insurance for covering assisted living costs for parents. ( the latter is not MMM style probably - and all the same points apply about getting your own house in order first). And quite a few will offer free confidential counseling for stressful situations such as these. But in terms of resources, might be worth checking out.

Best of luck, that's a tough situation to have to handle.

Sibley

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Re: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2014, 09:24:57 AM »
BetsyS - dad gets EAP through his work for now, so they used that to help with the paperwork they've done. I'll check on mine, see what it offers. My sister is also in law school and while not fully qualified, she's got a much better handle on the legal stuff than the rest of the family does!

GizmoTX - sorry to hear about your mother, we went though dementia with my grandmother and had a lot of similar issues with her. My dad has quit smoking several times, but can't maintain it as long as mom still smokes. Still working on mom, but she's under a lot of stress from the situation so that complicates things.

We are aware that assistance will be necessary long term, that's one of the reasons why them coming to my area would be good. Not only am I here, but Chicago has adult day care, etc and Detroit doesn't have anything. We're lucky that in principle my mom doesn't have a problem with moving, though the logistics would be difficult. But she's been working on clearing out stuff for years (slowly obviously!), and every time I'm there I end up taking a carload of stuff to the local donation places.

The access to online accounts is a good idea. I have a few already, but will talk to mom about the rest. thanks!

Janie

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Re: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2014, 03:07:43 PM »
Can you pay off the student loans they took out for your education starting now? That would be one thing of their plate.

frugalecon

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Re: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2014, 03:52:24 PM »
I am so sorry to hear this. I am dealing with the same thing in my family. My Dad has had advancing dementia for several years, and it is now getting to the point where the downhill slide is rapidly accelerating. I am POA on their bank accounts, so I can write checks and monitor things online. Unfortunately, that didn't enable me to prevent him from doing some ill-advised things, like willy nilly liquidating IRAs and incurring huge liabilities. Or giving large amounts of money to people. (He was convinced they had about four times the assets they actually have, so no problem giving away $5000 here and there.)

Definitely get the POAs in order now. One financial institution has already told me that ours is not quite what they need, and they won't let me sign off on IRA withdrawals. We will see if the other institutions are as uncooperative. Dad cheaped out and did his with a DIY form. Have an attorney draw up the papers. And then show it to the financial institutions, so they know what the score is and they are on notice that you are a qualified person. At this point we cannot draw up another DPOA for Dad, because he would be considered incompetent legally.

It is a mess. Hopefully your dad's doctor is on top of the situation. My dad was able to cover up enough that the doctor never diagnosed anything until it was pretty advanced. Of course, he should have been administering a basic neuro exam every time he saw Dad.

Sibley

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Re: Advice on parents - hopeless from my view
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2014, 06:29:27 PM »
frugalecon - that sounds like a mess! If it helps, many neurologists are unwilling to officially diagnose until it is really bad. Some won't until the autopsy confirms. Totally not your fault, and try to find a support group. We've found one near me, gotten some good advice on what to do now from people in the thick of it.

Thankfully for my family, dad doesn't do the finances and never has. Odd in their generation, but it worked for them. So dad doesn't have "access" to do anything major (practically, not legally). Good idea on showing POAs to the banks, I'll talk to mom about it.