Ask Jennifer: Week ending 8/24

Updated: 08/05/2014 7:27 AM
Created: 08/04/2009 11:50 AM WHEC.com


Dear Jennifer,

I love my Mom and Dad. They have been great parents and helped us ever way the could. There’s six of us kids and they helped us all with our college payments and put some money down on our first houses. My mom and dad are 85 years old. (They share the same birthday and have been together since high school.) All of us kids love them and want to start taking care of them. The problem is we can’t agree on what to do for them. Right now, we’ve started taking turns staying overnight because mom had a stroke and needs help with the bathroom. Dad’s got terrible arthritis and heart troubles. He can barely take care of himself and he tries to take care of her. He wants mom to stay home with him. He says he’s got everything under control and we are making too big a deal. My brothers think we should find a nice place for both mom and dad to live where they can get help. Us girls want to keep them home together. One of my sisters wants to quit her job, move in with them and get paid to take care of them. This sister is a sponge. She milks them for anything she can get. The rest of us know she wants to inherit the house and that’s part of why she wants to do this. I just want what my parents want. They shouldn’t have to deal with us kids arguing. I know you’ll agree with me and I know I’m right.

Thank you,
Dear Barbara,

I am going to stick my neck way out and say your mom and dad are used to “you kids” having separate opinions. If your parent’s minds are still working well, they surely should make their own decisions, provided they are reasonably safe.  (There are risks just in the fact that a person has reached 80…. But age alone is not a deciding factor.) It’s time for a family meeting. Your father should head it up. Here’s what I recommend you discuss:

1. What if your dad goes in the hospital, what is the plan for mom then?
2. What if your parents hire help in, whether that is your sister or an agency...how long can they afford that?
3. What if your parents were to move …. How long could they afford that?
4. What happens if your parents need more help?
5. What happens if they run out of money?
6. How could your parents stay together if there are changes in the health of one of them?
7. How long can you kids physically support them at home before you are exhausted?

If you don’t know what the answers could be to these questions, then you need to consult an advocate.

When it comes to the worry about the sister who wants to inherit the house, that may well be a moot point as the money from selling the house may be needed to buy into a nursing home if that day comes. Further, the decision on inheritance is your parent’s to make. If you are quite worried, then speak to them and share your feelings. Then let it rest. There are no guarantees on inheritance.

Family love will get you through. See today’s article for more.


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