How can I approach my Dad about his gambling?

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I've a unique situation and am seeking some advice. I'm my 85 yr old Dad's POA and he does listen to my advice, most of the time. I'm afraid, however, facing what I'm going to be telling him this time might just set him against me for good.

First off, let me say that Dad is doing just fine financially. He has a good monthly income and a decent amount in savings. Due to illnesses (and some symptoms of early dementia) he's currently staying with my brother and sis in law. My sis in law is watching him nearly 24/7 due to unsteadiness on his feet and periodic confusion, especially after waking from one of his many "naps". She's afraid to leave him on his own at all and he won't hear of having a "babysitter".

My older brother and I both live out of state so can't help. We seriously believe that it's time that dad starts paying for his care. He does pay his share of the bills and food, but my brother, and especially my sis in law, are really doing above and beyond for him. SIL has put her life on hold for him. They also need someone to stay up and watch him at night so they can get decent sleep (I'm sure many of you know what I'm talking about here). My niece (age 22) has told me she would do it for 500.00 a month (she's a true night owl), a real bargain if you ask me. We think Dad should pay her to take the night shift, and pay my SIL 1,000.00/mo to care for all the other hours of care she's giving. Thing is, he can more then afford this, especially since he gambles nearly 1500.00 a month at the casino.

My sister in law is the one who takes him to the casino and she's tried not taking him but he get's like a little kid...rants, raves, cries and pouts, for days until she finally relents and takes him.nnFunny thing is, none of us want to take his gambling away. We know why he does it...it helps to ease the pain of being old, dependent, sick and without mom. We're all of the mind that he and mom earned their money, and if he wants to spend it that way, more power to him. He can afford, for a few year anyway, to pay both the 1500.00/mo for his care and gamble 1500.00/mo. He will need to sell his home up north (will never be able to go back to it anyway) to help him do it, but it is an option.

I know he's going to feel betrayed when I bring all this up. He thinks he's earned his care by having raised my brother. He already feels betrayed by my older brother (long story) and I'm afraid bring this up is going to cause him to believe my younger brother is only after his money, which is not at all the case. The paying was my idea, actually, and we all three children agreed it was what needs to happen.

I know that we are extremely fortunate that he does have the resources he does, but it doesn't change the fact that I know he's going to fight us on this, and I'm not sure what to do if he does. Does anyone have any ideas?

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Dustien, it sounds like you've done all you can for the time being. Maybe set it aside for now, knowing that there will come a time where your brother and SIL can be 'reimbursed' for all of their effort and sacrifice.
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What is he saving his other assets for? Does he expect to take them with him? Does he expect to live forever? Or is it all going to wind up going to you guys anyway? Make sure he realizes that none of you want your SIL to subsidize your inheritance with upaid work. You know that if he hired the work done by an outsider your potential inheritance would be depleted and you don't think it should be any different just because she loves him.

The notion of the other chipping in to pay for Dad's care would be perfectly appropriate IF the poor man couldn't afford his care. Since he has plenty of money it is ridiculous to treat him like a charity case.

I hope he comes around.

I there any outsider he might listen to more than a family member? Clergy? A banker? A buddy?
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And I made that comment only so that you could tailor your next chat with him with the recognition that he isn't going to give up gambling easily, if he can at all.

But it is good to see that you're moving forward. I hope the next discussion moves everyone closer to a solution.
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Garden, Good point. As I was writing that post about Grandpa being an alcoholic the same dawned on me too. It might come into play as something to point out to Dad if he the need comes up. I will certainly keep it in mind, and I suspect you're very right. Although he seemed to avoided making Grandpa's mistakes most of his life, he appears to have slipped into an addictive behavior that also could have serious consequences if not controlled.
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Jeannie, I should have pointed out that even though I'm POA, he pays his bills. Most are set up on autopay and the ones that aren't he writes checks for and my brother helps him keep track of what needs to be paid. All his money is in a revokable trust with both he and I as co trustees. I really can't do anything without his permission though, since if I touched his money without consulting him first, he'd go balistic and probably revoke my POA to boot. My paying SIL is out of the question. So the problem has always been how to get him to pay her.

The only way I saw to do that was to tell him that my older brother and I had discussed it and he really needed to pay SIL and that's why I was concerned he was going to look at me as the bad guy.

As POA I'm his "trusted" adviser...he usually has deferred to my advice, but he's already mad at my older brother over money (unjustly so). My pushing another issue where he's going to have to have more money going out, might push him over the edge where he'll be mad at me too, also unjustly so. At his age he doesn't seem to see the justice in it all Im afraid.

So the issue wasn't between paying my SIL or Gambling...it was refusing to pay my SIL while gambling which I felt was going to be the issue. I was prepared not to bring up the gambling at all if he agreed to pay SIL. However, it turned out just as I thought. He insisted he didn't have enough money coming in monthly to pay SIL since he already was paying 700.00 - 800.00 mo for his utilities, groceries and gas for his car and his funds in the bank were tied up in stocks and money market funds. That's when I felt I needed to bring up the gambling. I wanted him to know that I knew he was spending that much playing the slots each month! I told him that if he insists he only wants to use what he has coming in monthly, then he needed to take the money he's spending on gambling and pay it to Debbie instead. I was nice about it and really have dad's best interests at heart. We all do. And even though I'm sure dad knows that, he's now mad at me, as I suspected he probably would be. I just hope he get's over it soon, sees that he really does need to pay SIL but that he can do both, but it's going to require his getting into his bank accounts to do it.
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Good job!
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Thanks for the update. I do think that sometimes elders in need of care can be penny wise and pound foolish. I think there's also the expectation that taking care of elders is just expected as part of being in the family.

Glad you stood your ground - good for you!

But you did mention something that I feel compelled to address - grandfather was an alcholic, father is a gambler...both are addictive behaviors, yet the people engaging in them typically don't feel they're addictive.

Perhaps that will help when you approach him again, although I don't really have any suggestions on how other than to recognize that he doesn't see his gambling as addictive or a waste of money.

Still, you're making progress and I'm glad for you.
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I don't know why that first part of the post above ran into one looooong paragraph when it was made up of at least 3 or 4 smaller ones. Sorry about that. I hate reading giant run on paragraphs!
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Well...talked to dad. He, as expected, was not happy. I was ready to not mention the gambling, but when I told him he needed to seriously consider paying Brother and SIL at least 1500.00/mo he insisted that he already paid them 800.00/mo for bills, so he should only need to pay them 700.00 more. I explained that the 1500.00 needed to be paid separate from his bills, since his bills only covered his keep, not all they were doing for his care. He then insisted he didn't have enough coming in monthly to pay both. I told him he had money in the bank he could draw from but he said he didn't want to have to sell any stock or get into his money market savings and he started getting angry. That's when I brought up the fact that he could have enough coming in from his monthly income if he cut way back on his gambling. He said that his gambling was his business and none of mine. I agreed with him, and told him none of us want to try to make him quit gambling...just that we all feel that he needs pay SIL and brother for all they are doing for him, and that he has plenty of assets with which to do it, and still be able to gamble. So he said one solution was that he, my older brother, and I should all split the cost of his care because Justice and Debbie were doing all the work and we didn't have to do anything. He then brought up that he and mom took care of our Grandpa for 15 years and the only thing grandpa could pay for was his share of the groceries and they had to pay for everything else. That's when I reminded him that was because Grandpa had been an alcoholic all his life and had no money. That if grandpa had thousands in the bank, he knows good and well he and mom would have expected him it to use some to pay for the care they gave him, especially since he would otherwise use a good portion of it to go barhopping (substitute gambling)! I explained that we all loved him and wanted him to have the best care he could, and that was with my brother and SIL...that he's loved there, but that, if he doesn't start paying them, the increasing care he's needing is going to begin to take it's toll on everyone. Money doesn't guarentee it's going to get any easier, but money does alleviate some of the burden...she could hire a housekeeper, a gardener (she doesn't have time to do much of either now) and maybe buy herself something nice now and then. It will go a long way to helping her feel appreciated, even though you tell her so.

He started shutting down when he saw that I was sticking to my guns about paying her since he had no good reason not to and a score of good reasons he should. I knew it was time to wrap it up for the time being and let him think on it. I told him to give it some serious thought and that I'd call him in a few days.

I'm just glad he didn't hang up on me, and I hope it sinks in and he remembers the conversation...most of it anyway. I didn't get any guarantees that he's going to start paying, but he knows how we all feel now. The ball is rolling....
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Really, what is with old people and gambling? I had never been in a casino and last year I was at a horse show in Tunica with friends. The casinos have great buffets, so we decided to go to a casino and eat. I could not believe it, but the majority of people at those machines were seniors. Some were in wheelchairs and many were using those portable oxygen tanks in that smoke filled room!! Many were actually playing 3 machines at once. They would sit at one and play the machines on each side of it. It would have been comical if it wasn't so sad.
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