I am a newbie caregiver. I am 51 years old and work full time an hour and a half away from my home. I also run a farm with my husband and teach yoga classes. My husband is 76 years old. He is a semi-retired architect. He stays active with the farm and building projects. In addition to the farm and his business, my husband has been renovating our home.
Until recently my parents lived an hour away, making me their closest child since my other siblings live about 700 miles away. So it has fallen to me to help them when their computer doesn’t work and sit with them when one of them is in the hospital. It happens that I also have the best temperament for this among my siblings.
Last spring my parents finally agreed that their two story house was too much for them and they needed to be closer to family. They wanted to stay in our state, so we looked at options closer to my farm. Ultimately, my parents decided to take us up on the option of building a small house on our farm. My husband has done design and build projects before so he has volunteered his professional services. He just completed the infrastructure to the building site and we are waiting until March to begin construction. In the meantime, my parents closed on their house the week before Christmas and have moved into our house with us. With our renovation on hold while their house is under construction we are all pretty cramped.
My father is 94 years old. He has a pacemaker, prostate issues, and balance problems that cause him to move very, very slowly. He spends most of his day reading, watching the news, and running his flea market booth of collectibles with his business partner. He has always been somewhat narcissistic and short tempered, but has gotten worse in the past couple of years. He talks every day about his impending death, and doesn’t look forward to things the way he once did. I know he agreed to this move so that Mom would have someone to take care of him when he dies, which probably complicates how he feels about this “big adventure.”
My mother is 76 years old (much younger than my dad and the same age as my husband) and she is in poor health. She had a stroke several years ago, and has become forgetful. I am noticing she has more cognitive problems than just a little forgetfulness. She seems to have trouble making decisions and gets confused easily. She has always been high functioning, so she’s defensive about this and might be hiding how bad it really is. She doesn’t eat well and has type 2 diabetes. She is sedentary and has arthritis in her knees and hips. She simply isn’t interested in taking care of herself. She does try to be pleasant and helpful around the house.
To round out the story, I should tell you that I am the youngest of six siblings in a blended family. Though my siblings are all prone to having very strong opinions and rarely agree they have been universally supportive of the idea of my parents coming to live here, but who knows what that means or how long it will last. My oldest three siblings are competitive with one another, which gets a bit ruthless. As the baby of the family, I’ve always flown under the radar and had the least expected of me. I’m uncomfortable to suddenly have my siblings lauding me as savior for taking in my parents.
Some of my siblings have said they would never take my parents in, which sounds harsh, but is probably them being realistic about what they can cope with. Some of my siblings are in no position to do such a thing, even though they would if the could. I think all of my siblings feel a little guilty about not being the one to step up. This further makes me suspect that none of them wants to know the truth about how our parents are struggling to take care of themselves or how much they are relying on me.
My parents have been living here for two weeks. It has been a big adjustment for us all. They are overwhelmed. I am exhausted.
I have a million questions for you all, so thank you in advance.

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You could 'temporarily' place them nearby until the cottage is finished. Maybe AL, or Senior housing.

You could place an RV or trailer on your property until the cottage is finished. Being semi-retired, your husband could take longer to complete the project?

I do not think having them in your own home is sustainable.
It will be too much on you, imo.

I compliment you on your desire to care for your parents, and your generosity to make the changes suggested.   That's very thoughtful, and isn't always the position a family takes.  

Your farm is a business, correct?   How is the property zoned, and will or has the zoning board approved construction of another building that isn't farm related?

Since your husband is an architect, I'm assuming he's addressed these issues, as well as those of getting water, electricity and gas connected to the house.    I'm assuming you also would be paying the costs for these connections?

Do you really think that either you or your husband could continue your own activities with the additional responsibility you've (temporarily?) undertaken?   If not, and assuming that your farm is income generating, do you have sufficient finances for back up if either of you need to compromise your income generation activities?

If/when the situation reaches the point of needing placement for either of your parents b/c of the need for more care than you can provide, you'll have an empty house on the farm.    What would you do with that house?  Rent it out?   And if so, would that affect the farm business, including the zoning since you would have 2 for profit businesses on the property?

Each of the foregoing posters has made good suggestions to consider.    You might want to create checklists of each, and discuss with your husband how to handle them before you get any farther.

But I would also include the siblings in the discussion because I don't think it will be long before you need assistance, and it doesn't seem as if they're be there for either you or your parents.  

Your desires and plans are laudable, but the reality is that the situation is more than likely to become more and more demanding, requiring not just more of your time but the addition of paid help to assist with care in the home. 

If you're in a farming community, any assistance might be hard to find.   In metro and heavily built up communities, paid care such as the private home care companies are literally a dime a dozen.   That's not necessarily the case in rural areas.  

And that location, as well as your own commitments, are also factors in medical treatment - taking time off for transit and back from doctor appointments, visits to the ER (and they will happen - that's literally guaranteed). 

These are just some things to consider before making more commitments.

Good questions from CTTN. Who will pay for the construction of the house that will become your asset since it is on your property?

Be very careful with this, if folks are paying for the build that will result in an increase to your property value, then if they should need Medicaid the cottage would be considered a gift to you and subject to Medicaid penalty, a period of time that mom and or dad would not be eligible for assistance from Medicaid. There would have to be a period of self pay, out of pocket, until the value of the gift is spent for their care.

I would definitely meet with a certified elder law attorney to learn of options in your state and Medicaid rules. The folks care needs will, no doubt increase, and I wonder if this is a practical and responsible solution.

First of all welcome, you find lots of advice and empathy here.

I'm on my second year of doing similar to what you are doing, only it's my mom only (dad died long ago) she is 75 and was diagnosed with dementia last Spring. I'd say she is very close to mid-stage. She lives next door to me in my condo building. She is still able to live alone, but needs help with a lot of things.

I will offer you one piece of advice that may or may not apply in your case but since I took a leap and ended up making a HUGE, huge mistake it's kind of like a warning. The one I wish I would have had and lived by.

Think long and hard before combining your financials with your parents. Don't do it. My husband and I paid for a good portion of my mom's condo and also renovated it. I figured she's next door, I'll still have my own space and she will have hers.

Worst mistake ever. Less than a month here and I saw she had more than just normal aging memory issues. I've had a VERY hard time adjusting and as her demands increase and my burnout with her gets worse I know facility placement will be in my future. My husband and I will have to untangle the financial issues when that time comes and I fear we will lose a big chunk of our money, that we need for our own older care.

What I wish I would have done is offer to help her get into senior living she alone could afford with different levels of care. Close enough to visit, but not the all encompassing stuff we have now. I underestimated and just didn't know/realize how much my mom would expect of me.

Good luck.

DaintyBess: "Though my siblings are all prone to having very strong opinions and rarely agree they have been universally supportive of the idea of my parents coming to live here, but who knows what that means or how long it will last. My oldest three siblings are competitive with one another, which gets a bit ruthless. As the baby of the family, I’ve always flown under the radar and had the least expected of me. I’m uncomfortable to suddenly have my siblings lauding me as savior for taking in my parents."

As lealonnie1 wrote, of course your siblings like the idea of your taking your parents THEY don't have to do it!

" I am exhausted."

They have only been living with you for two weeks...what do you think it will like after two months or two YEARS? They are only going to get worse. What's going to happen to YOU in the midst of all of this?

Are you going to give up your life to them? I'm sure you can imagine what it's going to be like as they worsen...and what about your H? He isn't young.

What is their financial situation? Are they paying for the cottage construction? Is there other money? Will there be money for in-home caregivers? Do you think they could qualify for Medicaid? What does their will or trust state? I hope there isn't a significant trust/estate that is to be divided equally amongst the six siblings, when it appears that YOU are going to be the one doing all of the work!

Your siblings certainly ARE relieved that you're taking over the care & handling of their parents...........that lets THEM off the hook and they can now breathe a sigh of relief. Unfortunately.

I agree with CWillie. Check out the local senior apartments with a continuum of care so that they can start out in independent living, perhaps, and move into Assisted Living and/or Memory Care/Skilled Nursing, as their needs increase. Things do not get better with dementia and what's high-functioning today can easily turn into very low-functioning tomorrow. Trust me on that........dementia is a VERY, very tricky, very ugly disease. Most people are not equipped to deal with 2 elders to care for at's A LOT!

Just another avenue for you to consider, especially when the exhaustion gets overwhelming.

Best of luck!

If you didn't realize it before you are getting a new firsthand look at why the plans for a cottage are likely not a realistic option, from your description I really doubt whether your parents will be able to live independently very much longer. If there are any seniors apartment/independent living options available in your community I would look into setting them up there at least temporarily, it would give them an idea of what these communities have to offer as well as take some of the strain off of all of you.

Just an observation.

Your parents are going to need even more help soon. You may want to reconsider the cottage you’re planning to build unless they can also afford in house care. You’ll ended up having your own mini nursing home and that’s Big money.

And quite honestly you should also consider your husbands age. Your husband at 76 is not young. At 51 everyone may be looking to you as a full time caregiver in the not too distant future.

How is everybody set with finances, Wills, end of life doc’s, POA etc?

And your sibs need to get on board if at all possible. This is going to be too much for one person who still has a career.

Hang around here. Lots of folks will likely chime in who’ve gone through similar stuff.

Welcome, keep posting, it will help!

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