Getting elderly parents who live independently, to plan for future care options.

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My parents, who are divorced, still live independently. They both have made no plans for their future care when they cannot live indepenently anymore. They both know I am not an option as a caregiver to them. They refuse to discuss the issue and just live their lives as if they will live, the way they are, until they die. I tried to tell them if they don't make choices now, they will be forced to have decisions made for them in the future. They both say they will worry about it when and if the time comes. How selfish can they be? I don't want to have to make those choices for them! I am ready to just walk away and leave them to their own lives, living with their heads in the sand!

32 Comments

Debralee, there is only so much you can do. It sounds like you've done all the right things. Maybe after some time if a health issue arises or some activity becomes too hard for them, they will listen. In the meantime, I would start researching options on your own. I know you don't want to but I was in the same position and now my mother is living with me because neither one of us made plans ahead of time. Realize they are just not going to do this and do it yourself for yourself.
Debralee, I agree with nimommy! I am experiencing the same thing. Catastrophic health issues forced a move into a senior independent living apartment due to mobility issues. We are now dealing with cleaning out the home of 50+ years and trying to sell it.

The next step, assisted living or nursing home are totally out of my parents view even though we have discussed them as options -MANY TIMES; and they currently need services.

There is only so much I can do. They are adults capable of making their own decisions.

They next time one of them goes into the hospital (typically courtesy of the local Fire Rescue) I will again bring up looking @ additional services from local home care providers & Assisted Living. Eventually something gets through their fierce independence. During the winter they FINALLY hired someone to assist with house cleaning once / month!
Your profile says you are caring for your mother, living at home with lung disease. So, I am not sure whether she lives with you or you live with her,and your dad lives somewhere else. In any event, not knowing their ages too, I would have a talk about the need for at least finanancial and health POAs while they are both competent. If they do not want to talk about it, well you did and that is all you can do. They have the right to live their lives the way it suits them, and it is not selfish to you because you have the same rights.
Your local aging and disability resource center has options ocunselors who can talk with your parents about future health care needs.
We're also 'waiting until the time comes' to deal with the issue. All I can suggest is acting now to scope out what your choices will be under catastrophic circumstances, prepare for them and adjust as needed if your loved ones unexpectedly begin considering more preferred choices. And-- breathe. It's okay to unclench.
We call what your parents are doing "waiting for a crisis." It's VERY common.
This sometimes works..."I know I've brought up the idea of planning for what you'll do if a time comes and you need help to take care of yourself. I understand that you don't want to make a move right now. But, you should make a plan for 'some day'. If you do not, and an accident or illness happens, I will be the one who has to choose where you will go and how you will live. If you make a plan now, those decisions will be yours to make."
If that doesn't work, tell them you are going to look at a few places and choose one so that you are prepared in case of a crisis. If they'd like to be involved that process, they are welcome. If you've already had the argument so many times you can't face another, eliminate step one altogether and start right in with describing to them how you're going to plan.
Sadly, it's often all about the slant you put on things when dealing with irrational parents...kind of like when you were dealing with your children as toddlers.

ps - You really should have a plan in place if they truly won't. If your parents have the resources for AL, you should shop around now and pick one. It's so much easier to do with a clear head and some time than with a parent being discharged from a hospital with no place to go. Just call a few and go do some tours. Explain your situation to the them, sometimes they can help persuade – they've heard every irrational argument there is : )
I think those that don't plan ahead for the later years are just plain scared of facing reality. We are dealing with that "do what you think best" attitude now.

I've seen the difference with friends and relatives whose elders had all their ducks in a row long before, including burial plans. It is one less emotional burden/responsibility for their children. I feel it is the last real gift our parents should give us.
I feel it would be better if it were the last gift that they wanted to give us instead of should
I feel for you, and admire your trying to talk to stubborn parents, but I fear your situation is far worse than you know. I was faced with a similar issue with my Mom and learned the hard way just how much can go wrong.

If you have siblings, GET A CONTRACT WITH THEM NOW! Make sure ALL siblings sign stating exactly what they will be responsible for as in the actual care given and the monetary responsibilities - DETAIL THIS AND DO THIS NOW BEFORE YOUR PARENTS NEED HELP! (My brother owes me nearly $200,000 and I will never see it, and in ten years of my giving our Mom round the clock care, he bought her ONE MEAL nor did he take her to a single doctor's appointment, sit with her in the hospital, or pay any of her bills). SIBLINGS WILL RUN when the time comes! They'll claim, "I live out of town, what can I do?" "I can't afford it." "I have child support payments." "She lives with you, so you deal with it." There is no limit to the excuses siblings will use to avoid/shirk their responsibilities to their parents' elder care.

I know I've been beating a dead horse ever since I joined this group a couple weeks back but getting this word out is important to me. HIRE A RELIABLE ELDER CARE LAWYER NOW! Otherwise, you'll be bitter towards your siblings and possibly having to file bankruptcy. (Check Elder Care Attorneys out thoroughly, be sure they have many years of experience, ask questions, ask for references before you hire them.) This is critical if your parents have not planned and there is no money set aside for long-term care. The problem coming down the pipeline is the "Filial Responsibility Laws" (already on the books in 30 states) that FORCE THE CHILDREN TO PAY FOR THEIR PARENTS' LONG-TERM CARE! A man in Pennsylvania just lost $93,000 to pay for his Mother's Nursing Home Care. This man had siblings, but the Nursing Home only went after him because they knew he had money. He lost, his siblings are off the hook, and he's out $93,000 with no recourse. A similar suit just happened in Connecticut (but was recently overturned.


AARP has a map highlighting states with Filial Responsibility Laws already on the books, if AARP is putting this information up, they're warning their customers that this is definitely becoming an issue:


Tennessee has QUIETLY been forcing HEIRS to sell the parent's home to repay Medicaid for DECADES (I know this for a fact as it happened to me in 2004).

Here is a list of states that already have these laws on the books (keep in mind that more states are currently writing/adding these laws and most of these states are updating these laws in order to put them into effect):


The New Old Age By JANE GROSS
States With Filial Responsibility Laws are: Alaska, Arkansas,
California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana,
Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota,
Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota,
Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
To look up the actual language of the statutes, here are the
citations:
1. Alaska Stat. 25.20.030, 47.25.230 (Michie 2000)
2. Arkansas Code Ann. 20-47-106 (Michie 1991)
3. California Fam. Code 4400, 4401, 4403, 4410-4414 (West 1994),
California Penal Code 270c (West 1999), California Welf. & Inst.
Code 12350 (West Supp. 2001)
4. Connecticut Gen. Stat. Ann. 46b-215, 53-304 (West Supp. 2001)
5. Delaware Code Ann. tit. 13, 503 (1999)
6. Georgia Code Ann. 36-12-3 (2000)
7. Idaho Code 32-1002 (Michie 1996)
8. Indiana Code Ann. 31-16-17-1 to 31-16-17-7 (West 1997); Indiana
Code Ann. 35-46-1-7 (West 1998)
9. Iowa Code Ann. 252.1, 252.2, 252.5, 252.6, 252.13 (West 2000)
10. Kentucky Rev. Stat. Ann. 530.050 (Banks-Baldwin 1999)
11. Louisiana Rev. Stat. Ann. 4731 (West 1998)
12. Maryland Code Ann., Fam. Law 13-101, 13-102, 13-103, 13-109
(1999)
13. Massachusetts Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 273, 20 (West 1990)
14. Mississippi Code Ann. 43-31-25 (2000)
15. Montana Code Ann. 40-6-214, 40-6-301 (2000)
16. Nevada Rev. Stat. Ann. 428.070 (Michie 2000);
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. 439B.310 (Michie 2000)
17. New Hampshire Rev. Stat. Ann. 167:2 (1994)
18. New Jersey Stat. Ann. 44:4-100 to 44:4-102, 44:1-139 to 44:1-
141 (West 1993)
19. North Carolina Gen. Stat. 14-326.1 (1999)
20. North Dakota Cent. Code 14-09-10 (1997)
21. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2919.21 (Anderson 1999)
22. Oregon Rev. Stat. 109.010 (1990)
23. 62 Pennsylvania Cons. Stat. 1973 (1996)
24. Rhode Island Gen. Laws 15-10-1 to 15-10-7 ((2000); R.I. Gen.
Laws 40-5-13 to 40-5-18 (1997)
25. South Dakota Codified Laws 25-7-28 (Michie 1999)
26. Tennessee Code Ann. 71-5-115 (1995), Tenn. Code Ann. 71-5-
103 (Supp. 2000)27. Utah Code Ann. 17-14-2 (1999)
28. Vermont Stat. Ann. tit. 15, 202-03 (1989)
29. Virginia Code Ann. 20-88 (Michie 2000)
30. West Virginia Code 9-5-9 (1998).
State laws vary. however, law student Shannon Edelstone, in her
award-winning essay (cited below), studied all of the state laws and
found that most agree that children have a duty to provide
necessities for parents who cannot do so for themselves. The states'
legislation also gives guidelines to the courts, telling judges to use a
number of factors when weighing the adult child's ability to pay
against the indigent parent's needs. Judges, accordingly, have
considered such variables as the adult child's financing of their
child's college education, as well as his/her personal needs for
savings and retirement.
Sources: Filial Responsibility: Can the Legal Duty to Support Our
Parents Be Effectively Enforced? by Shannon Frank Edelstone,
appearing in the Fall 2002 issue of the American Bar Association's
Family Law Quarterly, 36 Fam. L.Q. 501 (2002). Lexic.com.


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