lizzieann Asked February 2013

Should my mom, who has lived with me for 1.5 years, contribute to household expenses?

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I am a single woman caring for my 95 yr old mom. she has lived with me for 1.5 years. i also work full time and maintain a home. i love her dearly and am doing this willingly and will continue to do so unless it becomes medically impossible for me to care for her. but it has changed my life pretty dramatically. i am also beginning to think that maybe she should be contributing to household expenses. i would expect to do that if i were living with her. my mom is fine with the idea. my brother, who also lives in the area, is in charge of her finances. is it fair for me to approach him with this request. i think she should pay for half of the monthly grocery bill (she has a very healthy appetite) and also half of utilties and power. i would never charge her rent, nor would i expect to be paid for caring for her.

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lizanne in my prior post here I was trying to put it in a short answer....
What I meant was legally every person has to pay their way if they can. If your Mom has money to pay you room and board this is nothing to feel guilty about. If her money is being spent or saved for her care and quality of life that's her money and is spent on her. If she needs full time care in the future in assisted living or another facility guaranteed there is a bill someones got to pay, no one gets it for free, unless they have absolutely no money for income. Whatever income she has goes directly to the facility if she qualifies for medicaid they pay the remainder of expenses for room and board allowing her a minimal amount for personal needs each month. To qualify, her past 5 years (depending on the state) of finances need to be proven to be spent on her needs, so really the best way to spend down, is for her care and room and board. You and your brother defiantly need to prove with a paper trail where money has been spent.
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lizzieann Feb 2013
treatmenttime - i'm sorry that you're having a little bit of a negative experience with your mother-in-law. i am so fortunate to have a mom who is just a joy to have around. nonetheless - caretaking is caretaking and it is stressful! i have to admit though, that i am getting a little resentful of my brother and his family, who live close by and who's lives are effected very little by our aging mom. i am carrying the bulk of it - willingly - because i feel that i am more compassionate and able to care for her. but i got to thinking that i should maybe be compensated in some way since there is such an imbalance between his life and mine with regards to mom's care. this seemed like the best way to do it - i averaged out the groceries, power and utilities for a year and divided by two and i am asking my bro to cut me a check each month out of mom's acct for that amount. it doesn't seem fair that otherwise, he will get half - when i'm doing all the work. maybe that sounds bad on my part - but from my perspective - things are really out of wack. and again ... i have a wonderful mom to whom i owe the world. but my brother has a nice assisted living facility for our mom - for free - in me. time to change that.
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My husband and I charge his mother room and board, a set fee every month. We signed a lease that states that she can remain with us only if she complies with her physicians' instructions and if she doesn't cause drama in our home. It is important that elders feel like they are contributing and/or pulling their weight, and in the beginning that is why we charged her. Now we charge her because she is rude and she'd rather give her $ to her children that don't care for or about her. We are setting aside the rent $ (she doesn't know) for her final expenses because she didn't set aside or plan even one dollar for funeral. No matter what your reasons are, whether to boost your mom's morale or to offset your expenses you will never regret your decision. When she is gone or when she is unable to make monetary decisions another family member may get involved negatively. If you need the additional income, don't procrastinate.....and best of luck to you!!
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lizzieann Your Mother's money is her's not your brother's or anyone else. If he is handling her finances that's precisely what his duty requires him to do, take action
"in the benefit of" your mother. In fact it is frowned upon if your mothers daily needs suffer due to his neglect to provide for her with her funds. Think about it, if you were living with a room mate, should they pay for your rent, food, clothes, medication, daily needs, no.
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jeannegibbs Feb 2013
I suggest that you draw up a simple agreement spelling out what the money is for, how much, and how often. In the event that she needed to apply for Medicaid (let's hope not, but it could happen) it won't be considered a gift.

My mother (92) has early stage dementia. We knew it was time she stopped living on her own but were having a hard time convincing her. In her mind she didn't need any help. My sister who recently retired offered to have her move in and at first Mother agreed but when it came time to turn in notice at her apartment she balked. Finally a clever younger sister took Mom aside and said, "Could you possibly rent Patty's lower level from her? Now that she is retired she is having a little trouble making her mortgage payment." Mom said of course she could help out in that way, and she immediately signed the notice paper.

Often older people, even older people with dementia, want to pay their own way. To live off a child is demeaning. Usually the child can use the extra income to help cover the extra expense. The parent is given dignity and pride by paying. Charging a parent is win-win, good for both sides.
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lizzieann Feb 2013
Thanks Yogi, Always and Jessi for the supportive answers! i also want to clarify that if my mom were in her right mind, this would not even be an issue. She would have offered to share expenses. But she has slight dementia and, oft-times she offers to pay, but has never come up with the idea of sharing expenses on her own. And you all are so right. They really do want to feel as thought they are contributing ... in every way ... even though in many ways... they can't. What an interesting and unexpected journey. I'm so glad i found this site!
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JessiJames Feb 2013
Just like Yogibear said. I think is would make your mom feel good contributing. After-all you are giving her the best love and care a person can have. My mom insists on paying for groceries and other things if we need it. She's on a fixed income but still feels the need to contribute. It makes her feel good. I'm in charge of her finances but make sure she has cash in her wallet and she knows where every penny goes. It makes her feel like she still has some control in her life. Good luck! You deserve some help!
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It seems only fair and its an added plus that she's agreeable. Are you worried about your brother's reaction? If he balks at using mom's money, then he could give the money out of his own personal account to you because you shouldn't have to shoulder the expense alone. Your mom belongs to both of you.
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Yogibear Feb 2013
I don't find anything wrong with it, personally. When my mom was living with me, I charged her for groceries. Then she had money to do with what she wanted or needed. I think it also made my mom feel as though she were contributing, which she was. Blessings
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