Caregiving a difficult abusive parent.

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I would like to start a discussion about this topic and see what others think. It seem to me we need more direct and realistic approaches to dealing with aging parents and we need to stop this nonsense about approaching it with god's help. This is a growing epidemic in our country, the largest populace is people age 85 and up. And who is taking care of them? US, and especially the children, usually one while others sit back and do nothing. We need support, help, no lip service and real doing. We also need to cut out these blood sucking professional in home services that are eating up our medicare and medicaid and charging insane prices for home care. There are also people who want to help, but cannot due to agencies that are preventing them from getting to you directly without you paying a fee. We have to stop this. You can hire a baby-sitter on your own, but low and behold, you cannot hire anyone to come care for your elderly mother because of the bullcrap out there about hiring in home aide. As a caregiver I am appalled at the lack of services, the lack of help for caregivers, everything comes with a huge price tag, let us join up and put a stop to this nonsense.

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Orginalhirevs,
My situation was somewhat similar to yours once. Appointed a caregiver months ago. She was sent to us by an agency, as days passed by agency was restricting her doing the work. They would be demanding huge amount on the services did. Indirectly their intention was to cheat. Didn’t have any other way than dismissing her. The situation was, we had to waste huge amount and in return the service given was very bad. A long search for caregivers ended up with a good one.
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Thank you, Originalhirevs. It is nice to be understood. You are right, we both have sisters that were damaged by abuse. My sisters were older than me, 6 & 7 years older. And I set boundaries. But boundaries aren't tolerated by them.They don't talk to me, or acknowledge I am still alive. They had a funeral for me. Cousins thought I was dead. I really shocked one when I called her. She had attended the funeral and apparently I was cremated.

It is good that you and your sister can still talk. Boundaries do usually help. In our family, hitting was a way of life, and I was a lot littler than my sisters growing up. So I didn't win fights, so didn't have choices. Somehow that got interpreted by them that I wasn't entitled to make choices. I learned to stay out of sight when I could. And life marched on.

And like your sister, my one sister is very controlling, with her kids, her sisters. both sisters moved out, got married, had children, The other one is clueless. But she has been an addict and alcoholic since she was 16 and she is 63 now.

I don't feel guilt, I just wonder sometimes when someone says a sibling won't help, if they are asking for help or if they are making decisions then demanding the siblings comply.

My sisters actually disappeared out of my life for nearly 10 years. It was really peaceful. Dad died and I got a lot of counseling. Then I was insisting on going off to college. I was 33 by that time, had saved up some money, and paying for my own college. And I was helping mom.

It all came crashing down again when the situation with moms living arrangement fell apart. She needed 24/7 care and I wasn't doing what I was told. And this was really inconvenient to them. But by this time I would not tolerate being hit. And I would fight back. And I would stand up for myself. And we are more matched in size now. And, I had even convinced mom that either the abuse stopped or I would not be there.

I forgave my family years ago. And I forgave myself, too. It is good you can forgive your sister. As children, we are hurt, angry, and frequently made to take on adult roles with abusive and/or addict parents. So we often lash out. My sisters did that. They wanted help with dishes and housework, chores, etc, as they saw mom and dad do, which was hit us if we didn't mind, or act fast enough, so my sisters hit each other or me to make Each help with whatever was needing to be done. Except I wasn't big enough to hit and be effective.

That sound like what happened with you and your sister? But the one being abusive doesn't want to let go of control. And they sort of think they have earned their right.

But as adults, we can be in a better position to control our environment. I am the only one who got counseling. My one sister just got drunk and high and joined the party. My other one figures if she doesn't drink or do drugs then she has overcome. Which is sad. Because the hoarding thing is just bizarre. She has a shrine set up with pictures of my parents, candles burning, incense, and flowers and wreaths all set up on a kitchen buffet furniture piece, and then has the unusable house due to years of piles of junk.

I also think, because there was no one I could hit without getting seriously hurt, I didn't learn to be abusive. In counseling, what I learned was that I would always be a target for abusive, controlling people. They can sense something in me, and they try, sometimes really hard, to get control of me.

But I also realized in counseling how to say no, how to stick to it, and how to spot it. Every so often, someone controlling will drift into my life, and I have to deal with a period where they continually try to dominate or control me. Then they finally realize it is put going to happen, and they go away,

I got married, and his mom is controlling, now, she is just angry at me. I wouldn't retire too young, I would not move I with her and her other two sons and daughter in laws, I would not hand her my paychecks, etc. and she has had enough.

Occasionally I will have someone try to hit me, sometimes "in a joking way". I don't tolerate that either. Someone will backhand me across the chest or hit me on the back of the head and tell me to shut up or "don't be like that." And I threaten to call the cops or I do call the cops, or I hit back, HARD, depending on the situation. Usually they don't talk to me after that. At all.

That is the hard part of having been through it as a child. The scars don't go away, and someone who has the wish to be abusive can seem to sense my past and think they have found a victim. And they will try. And, I never give up control of me. I stay in control of me. Even down to my sewing room, sewing machines, etc. I take classes and I get really irritated if the teacher tries to take control of my project or sewing machine or computer.

Before I met my DH, I dated. And a lot of the guys mothers really liked me. But they would try to move in with me, take control of my kitchen, even my clothes. That happened several times. They would come stay with me, and while I was at work, they would rearrange my kitchen, or go through my clothes and throw out the old worn out ones or the stuff they didn't like, and I would come home and it was done.

That is the hard part. I can't seem to shed the something that makes that happen. I am short, so my kitchen has everything crammed into the lower cupboards. My closet is eclectic. They will rearrange the kitchen to be like theirs. They will sort through the closet. I sew, and I will be doing something and someone will literally take my thing out of my hands and try to do it different. Or the machine will need attention and they will try to do it. It's aggravating,

Today, I had a lady try to tell me it was ok to use blue thread on my fall-color quilt because she doesn't like to thread a serger. It was MY serger, and I was threading it. She then tried to get me to just put the blue thread back in. And then she tried to "help".

Does that happen this you?

I am glad you got your mom put in a home. And, is she a war veteran or a spouse of a war veteran? If yes, there is money available to help pay for her care. You would need to talk to veterans affairs.

Heal, get better, my friend. We deserve the chance for a happy, fulfilling life. Hope your sister and you can get a healthy relationship.
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To Twizard,

I like your paragraph on the house in the dessert. Good description and it reminds me of a documentary I saw on some channel long ago who sounded like you. Same circumstances.
Anyways, Your sister sounds to me like my sister only my sister has not made any demands on me now. There was a time she sort of did this, and I think I allowed myself to be roped in. She was and still is very controlling, even with her own family. I think this is because she had years of being a mother to our biological mother and she had to take care of me as well. Along with that, there is resentment for being put in a role as the adult and not being allowed a normal childhood.
Both of us have sisters who were I feel damaged more severely by the mother's abuse. After years of therapy and after dealing with my mother for a year and half, I now understand what my mother did to damage my sister. So I have some empathy for her, however, that does not excuse her being abusive to me. And she was as a child, that I can forgive, but as an adult it has been slow going. I have forgiven her for much but I set boundaries with her. She is aware of that now and we get along much better.
I realized while taking care of my aged mother that at times I was acting just like my sister towards her and others. It was anger. And it was the type of anger that a person can drive you into if they constantly provoke you in ways that are unhealthy. As an adult, the best thing you can do is walk away from this type of abuse. As a child, you are jailed by it, because you have no place to go. That is what my mother did to my sister, so in many ways I have to forgive her for the damage my mother did to her.
But getting back to you, there are no laws out there that say you have to do anything, ANYTHING, that harms you, that is your right in life. And being around unhealthy people, can and will hurt you, even if it just makes you feel ill. Over time this will damage your health.
If you feel any guilt do what you can when you can and definitely set up boundaries with your sisters. If they do not know what that is, let them know. My guess since you are younger they will treat you with disrespect. Don't let them, you are an adult, you have years of experience on your hands. I phrase it this way: "I will be your friend, and I will share time with you or talk with you, as long as you respect me and show no contempt. The minute I feel that you are causing me pain mentally, psychologically or physically I am leaving your presence and will not return until you learn to be nice to me."
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My MIL is (to me) a new kind of abusive. She is narcissistic and controlling and manipulative. LoL, thank God for counseling. She has planned for me to "retire" at 50 (no, I don't have millions saved). She planned for all her sons and me to live in HER house and give all our money to her and she would divey it up as she saw fit. And I could run her around as she saw fit. And she was going to have her sister move in with us. Her sister is very nice, and has a daughter who wants to care for her mom. But nope, MIL will have it her way. Now she has decided she hates me because I won't capitulate to these idiotic plans. She was really mad because she took orders for blankets and shirts from red hat society and then was furious when I wouldn't make 50 t shirts with embroidery and 100 baby blankets in a months time, so she couldn't keep her promise. I do not see or embroider for a living, just have s home sewing machine with embroidery attachment, and I work full time job. After going round and round with me she has decided recently that she never wants to talk to me again (thank you) and I am never to call the house again, nor send anything. Of course she is angry at everyone, so is bullying everyone. Her thought is that she will isolate her son that she lives with and we will all, give in. How do you want to take care of that person? Ugh. Hubby called her to wish her merry Christmas and she thought it was me. Picked up phone, shouted "go to hell" and slammed phone down.

I will still help, but how? How to help hubby and his bros. she is such a b1cth. I don't know how to help because while I knew my boundaries with my family, this one is confusing. I do not want to talk to her.

And this one is weird. She acknowledges that she has control issues. But she says, "I want my way." Even when it is not her wedding, her money, her job, etc. she is in fights with people on Facebook that she has never even met! She gets chats and groups on Internet, the. Gets in email confrontations and fights with people she again has never met, and she group-emails the fights so everyone knows they are fighting. Huh? She was allowed to rule the roost when she was a baby and her husband was in the military so she ruled the house. She will say, "I did whatever I wanted to" and then will say that she is sick of people who won't let her be in control, that they are "being dominating I their own way" Huh? And she tries to get everyone to be mad at whomever she is mad at. Weird. I recognize it as abuse, but it is strange for me.
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This was an interesting thread for me to read. My mom was a "legal drug" addict, abusive, and could not be bothered to protect us from harm or predators, when we were children. Our family is not close and the abusive traits were perpetuated in many ways. Our father was an alcoholic, functional but still an alcoholic.

When it came time to care for mom as she grew old and developed dementia (that was weird) it was a struggle and constant fights. I was the youngest and last to leave home, and just expected to stick around to care for her. For many years, I did, but. . . Everything was a fight. From not allowing her abusive sisters to hit me if they wanted, to not shutting my mouth when someone who had molested me molested another 13 year old (I was an adult), etx, to not accepting my moms 6 indoor cats plus two dogs into my home, blah blah. And I didn't just fight with mom. My two sisters weighed in, even tho they were nowhere when something needed doing.

I finally talked my mom into moving out of that horrible house and place 10 years after my dad died. But it didn't work for long.

When it finally became clear to everyone that mom needed round the clock care, it was everyone's brilliant idea (cousins, aunts, sisters, etc) that I should quit my job, come live with my sister and become unpaid caregiver to mom, and unpaid babysitter and housekeeper to my sister, who insists that the Bible says she should be in control (yes, she says that if I had actually read the bible I would already know this). I refused.

She had some of the same logic you have, Originalhirevs, in that mom had a run down, ramshackle piece of property out in the desert (literally 45 miles from ANYTHING except people who live out there to make meth),

My attitude was, who cares about that property? When I say nothing is out there, remember the scene from terminator 2, when Sarah Connor goes to visit her friend out in the desert? That scene was filmed close to where I lived, same kind of setup.

A lot of fights about this. And fights about my having a right to support myself, earn a living, save for my old age, etc. I was supposed to do the right thing, which was quit my job to comply with my sisters wishes.

My other sister is a drug addict and prison convict, in and out of federal prisons, hanging out with convicts, etc. she would be dropping in for visits.

My sister who is not a drug addict said I had to help. I offered to help pay for a home for mom. I offered to help pay for in-home care for mom. I offered to help.

I refused to quit my job, and I refused to allow all those stupid animals to move in with me so I could live In that constant filth. I refused to allow my sisters to smoke cigarettes in my home. I refused to live in the ramshackle property. And I refused to allow myself to become the poor relation dependent on charity and handouts from one sister and the deflector for her from the other sister. According to my sisters, I refused to help.

My sister finally asked (4 years of fights at this point) if I would still help pay for a home for mom. Yes.

I went out to stay with my sister while we looked. She has a nice house that is filled with 4-foot high stacks of magazines, newspapers, and has house-paths to the various rooms and features. She could give "hoarding buried alive" three episodes. The visit was crazy, literally. And sister put me in room with the 6 cats and crazy convict sister, because there wasn't anywhere else to put us, except moms room. This is a 5 bedroom house with den and living room. But her kids each had one bedroom, she had one, mom had one, and the rest of the house was wall to wall crap. Moms room had twin mattress crammed against closet door, a narrow walkway that she had stuffed an air mattress in, and not one more inch of free space. Dismantled furniture stacked for wall outward. Litter box propped on top of furniture, stabilized by piles of clothes. And cat food and water dishes shoved in corner.

Mom died before we could place her, a different story. Then my sister wanted me to quit my job, and go live in that ugly house in that ugly place, so we could keep it in the family. Umn, no. So my sister disowned me, had a funeral for me, and told everyone I was dead.

Whenever I hear about siblings not helping, I can't help but wonder, is there situation like mine was? My mom never stopped being abusive. My sisters are abusive in different and differing ways.

I could not have survived being 24/7 caregiver in that household. When mom lived n her own house, I went out what started one day a week and migrated to several nights after work and sometimes both weekend days. Couldn't get it all done. House filthy, shopping, taking mom to doctors, and I REFUSED to live there in those conditions. Plus mom expected to "unload" on me, and she was always putting me down (too fat, not grateful, etc).

Finally after 10 years, said I wasn't coming out there any more. I was drained, physically and emotionally. Lots of other things, issues, etc. wanted college degree, career, and a life. Nearest college 90 miles away. Nearest convenience store was 20 miles away.

I got counseling, and a degree, and a career. A lot of counseling. And, once you get out of abuse, you NEVER want to go back into it. How many siblings who won't help are actually like me, want to help because I should, but who gets to define "help"? Is help living in filth? Is it allowing someone or lots of someone's to smoke in home because they want to? Is it shutting up when someone who molested me molests yet another teenager years later, because mom doesn't want to deal with the backlash of being a squealer? Is it allowing crazy convict sister to slap me because her convict boyfriend wants a kiss or more from me and I say no and he says yes because he is bigger than me and I say I will call cops if he touches me? Is it allowing my moms friends adult children to rape me because they want to? Am I a trouble maker for having learned to stand up for myself? Is help being willing to replace my moms funds because she wouldn't listen to me and taped her PIN to her debit card and the idiot convicts stole her debit card and wiped out her money? Is help being willing to move stacks of newspapers so I can mop a huge floor on my hands and knees because my sister is unwilling to use a mop on her floor because the mop is Germy? Oh yeah, then put those huge stacks of newspapers back where they were after I dry the floor because one day sister is going to go through them? Is help being willingness no to live with 6 cats and two dogs who pee and poop everywhere, because refusing to live with them is being stubborn, willful and mom "loves" her pets and couldn't be happy without them? Is help being willing to eat rotten food because sister thinks it is ok to put rotten vegetables I soup because you can't tell it was rotten then? Is help agreeing to give up life and job so mom can tell me "she wouldn't give a plug nickel for me, because I am not worth anything?" Every day? Or so she can bite or kick me because she wants to? Is help allowing my sisters to destroy me?

Who gets to define help? And who gets to say how much abuse someone can keep taking after years of it? Does my sister get to decide who gets sexual favors from me because if I don't let her decide that then we will fight physically, and that is being disruptive to the family peace? And does my other sister get to shove her religious B.S. down my throat because that is helpful to her?

Honor your parents? Respect your elders? Be obedient? TO WHOME? Parents who made you lie, hit you, let other people hit you, or worse. Respect elders who did not protect you as a child? Be obedient is just stupid.

I don't know how to want to be a caregiver to abusive people. I know how to be a caregiver, because I have had to be one. But I don't know why some people think it is a thing to do with joy. I don't know why some people think you should take the abuse. Boundaries. And rules. And limitations. Because sometimes what someone else thinks you should be willing to do is just too damn much.

I did help my mom. And I helped my dad. And now it appears that I may have to help my manipulative, narcissistic MIL. BUT I can't allow her to decide everything I will do any more than I could allow my sisters to decide for me.

I went to counseling and I am ok, happy, productive, and well-adjusted. Or so I think. Till someone tries to decide for me. Then I discover that while I don't live in the past I am affected by it.

Help and caregiving boundaries have to exist for someone who is caring for a parent who was abusive. Because they never stop being abusive. And after you get counseling, and other family members don't get counseling, you can see things clearly. You understand how much you can take and what will be too much.

For me, the boundaries helped. I told mom, she could come live with me, but not her cats and dogs. She appealed to my cousins, sisters, and aunts, who called or asked me to come see them, and we discussed, or we fought.

When mom told all of us she hated us, I could pat her arm, and say, "someday it will be better." When my sister slapped me for threatening her boyfriend with the cops, I put a barrier between us instead of pounding back on her. But I also told her if she hit me again, I would call the police. She was on parole and probation. So she would have gone back to prison,

And when my other sister insisted I quit my job and come live with her, take care of mom, and keep her house and cook for her and her kids, I told her no. And when she told me to move the newspapers and mop and dry the floor then bleach the rags I used, i told her no. And when she asked me to stay another night I told her no. And when she screamed at me that I was a horrible houseguest and could never stay at her houe again, I told her I understood. And when she now refuses to allow anyone to mention my name, I just shrug. When I go to someone's house, and they tell me I just missed her because she found out I was coming over and she ran out (literally) because I am dead, I just shrug. And when she needs care and her kids can't do it because they can't let ve with her hoarding, I will help if I can. But I get to decide the help I can provide. And when my other sister needs help, I will help. But I will decide the help I can give. Because I won't do things that damage my health, well-being, and sanity. I don't owe them that level of help.

This turned into a rant. Sorry, it wasn't pointed at anyone here. It was more me reminding me that I also don't owe my MIL my sanity, health, or well-being, either.
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This is an update to let everyone know that my husband and I did admit my mother to a nursing home in November of 2015. She had gotten to the point of almost catatonic state. She would no longer get out of her bed, go to the toilet and did not want to wheel herself in her chair. This happened within the space of 2 weeks. It was very fast. I also developed some heart issues due to the stress of dealing with here. She was demanding my attention 24/7. I was admitted to the hospital for heart flutter, then I had surgery. Apon returning, my mother refused to accept I had any problems and became worse in her demands on me. It was almost like she was angry that I was sick. We had her admitted to a psychiatric ward for a month and then we put her in a resting home that specialized in care for dementia and mental patients.
I have been at peace for 2 months now and healing. I am glad we did this, even though we cannot really afford it. We will however, do the best we can.

I would like to keep the discussion open though if anyone is still interested in talking. I think there is still much to be done about this growing nightmare in america and more people need to become aware of the urgency that is needed in finding solutions to our growing elderly care fiasco.
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I wanted to address another issue today about Hygiene and cleanliness.
With dementia patients like my mother, I have to remind her each day about washing her hands. Part of the stress in our lives is this content hassle of repeating ourselves. Otherwise, we deal with finding that the dishes are dirty after you know you cleaned them or finding bread in the mayonnaise jar, or finding worse things in the bathroom.
Each morning I listen to what she is up to. LOL. But you have to. Despite me telling her, she does not have to wash dishes, she seems to want to do this. So, I tell her it is fine as long as she washes with hot water and soap. Otherwise she rinses them under a trickle of water and uses her hand instead of a scrubby pad or sponge.
This morning, i was in the bathroom. I heard her come out of her room and told her to wait on the bathroom, she could hear me through the door. I then heard post and pans banging. I can hear very well, the house is small. I did not hear water running. I came out of the bathroom immediately to find her putting away dishes. So I stopped her and asked her if she washed her hands. She said "yes, I did.". I said NO, you did not, because I did not hear the water running.
She then says "Well ok"
I then have to re-interate that she cannot put dishes away without washing her hands first. This is usually when they get that look of total upset and slight anger at you. Guilt trip back at you. I have to then tell her, sorry, but, I like living in a home where I do not have to worry about getting sick. Sometimes I have to remind her about resteraunts where the employees do not wash their hands. Still if left on her own, I do believe she would never wash her hands at all, even after going to the bathroom. My husband also believes she has the guts of a Komodo Dragon, because she has never gotten sick in her life from her very bad sanitary habits.
Anyways, this is everyday, the reminder. We do not know if it's just the dementia, I find there is probably a large dose of just laziness in there as well.
Don't let them guilt-trip you after you do this though, like I said, I calmly tell her about the hazards of illness or the restaurant reminder and she understands.
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To dmanbro,

I have also had many people, most of them, the nurses or assistants who come by the home to help for the allotted medicare help after a hospital stay, ask me about her assets and if she has medicaid. I wonder sometimes if this is part of their employment trying to get them to upsell. In other words, if we have medicaid, they will offer more services. I also visited her senior center once and was bombarded by a woman there who misrepresented herself to me. She practically attacked me at the door, peppering me with questions about my mother, and never telling me who she was. I thought she worked at the senior center. She said she could offer me help during the day, sympathized with me about the stress, said she did offer her own services, etc. etc. I thought wow, maybe I can hire her part-time. She asked me what my mother got in terms of insurance, she then asked for my mother's Social Security number and said I needed to sign some consent form. I then backed off. She was so insistent on getting information from me that I was distracted from my mother who had wheeled herself into another room. I finally told the woman, "look, I have to find my mother, I will get back to you later".
She then came back to us, during our lunch! Right in the middle of our eating she wanted me to sign some form, I asked, what form? She then said it was a form to release my mothers information to a hospice which she worked for. I then lost it. I told her NO. I told her I would not sign anything. She had the nerve to get angry at me. She then told me to talk to some of the other seniors there to verify how trustworthy her hospice was. I said I had no intention of putting my mother in a hospice.
This is what I call the medicare vultures. They are lurking about. They will drill you on medicaid and say how wonderful it is. Well, unless you want medicaid to take your parents home and all their money, then don't listen to them.
I also told the Senior Center that I did not appreciate this woman bothering me and occupying my time when I was there only to assist my mother. Obviously, the senior center was aware of this "salesperson" in their midst and I think it is downright rude. It might be ok if they are there and they make their presence known but it is NOT ok for them to misrepresent themselves and ask for private information.
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originalhirevs: While our situations are different, I can certainly relate to a lot of your rant, particularly where money is concerned. For over a month and a half I desperately wanted to find out what was ailing my mother and during that span all anyone wanted to talk about was how much her house is worth and what kind of assets she has. People who didn't know her at all were coming in, taking a quick look at her and basically writing her off as a hopeless case before anyone had even tried to correctly diagnose her. And THAT didn't happen until I defied the social worker and told him that their "decision to discharge her" was outrageous and that I was refusing to take her home until someone in the chain actually did something. Lo and behold, later that day they "decided" to send her for more tests, which revealed her two spinal fractures. And even after she was properly diagnosed, I had to stop her primary doctor from discharging her again by insisting that they bring in a specialist who knew what the h*ll he was doing instead of bum-rushing her out the door before she was ready.

You go into this expecting "help" along the way but all anyone cares about is wringing them dry. Some of them don't even try to hide it either. I've had a social worker peppering me with questions about her assets while my mother was five feet away moaning and groaning. Another one was all hopped up about "discharge" BEFORE any tests had even been done. I'm sure there are a lot of good social workers out there doing a bang-up job but the ones I've dealt with were as helpful as a soccer bat.
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This forum is also open to any suggestions on making life easier to the caregiver.
I wanted to let everyone know also, if your parent has medicare and it pays most of the bills, then good. If you are finding that the 20% that they will not take care of is eating up your parents SS then do this. Get the AARP supplement Plan F.
This is not an ad for them, I am just trying to warn those who will see the parent going into a hospital for hip surgery or god knows what, that the bills afterwards are a nightmare. It took us this past year to pay off the previous year's hospital bills and we have just a few left. With the supplement, this year she went in for a week for her heart. She recovered and came home. Month later they were sending the usual $1200 here, $800 there, and so on. I sent them my supplement number and those bills are gone now. It will add up. We added it on in 2014. She is 86 so it was pricey: 240 a month. If we had added it on when she first got on Medicare, it would have been less.
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