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I am nearing 62 years old, healthy and planning to retire this year after 26 years of highly stressful work. Our grown child is on his own, doing well and independent. My wife and I have dreamed of relocating to another state where we would be happier with more opportunities to pursue our interests.


My parents ages are 91 / 95, fortunately live independently in their own home and are in relatively remarkable health for their ages. My wife and I have lived fairly close and have been there for them over the past 30 years. They are financially secure as far as we are aware. However, our relationship has not been the best over the years. They have been very self-centered, secretive, cheap and refuse to discuss their future health plans with me or my wife. My Mother has had some mental issues, but has always been very manipulative, selfish and reacts very badly when we discuss our retirement plans and the prospect of moving away. She accuses us of being selfish and cries that she doesn’t know how she will survive once we leave. I have attempted to discuss my parents future health plans with my older brother but he backs away from any productive conversation.


My wife and I have both worked very hard and have been greatly looking forward to ‘our time’. I plan to help and see my parents as best I can from our new home. My parents have lived their lives on their own terms. Yet, I still feel a great deal of guilt about moving away. I am trying to determine what is reasonable regarding my responsibility to my parents, while my wife is eager to begin our new life. Any experienced input in this area would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

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To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: Selfishness is not living as you wish. Selfishness is expecting others to live as you wish.
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Reply to CarlaCB
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Whey would you sacrifice your retirement plans to stay geographically close to parents who are not forthcoming with you about their plans for the future?

Folks who age successfully plan financially for their futures and genuinely do not want to be a burden to their children. They can hire a geriatric care manager. They can stay in touch with you via phone and email and if they sign a HIPAA release, you can be involved long distance on medical discussions and decisions. They can move to be close to YOUR retirement locale.

I would not fall for their manipulation.
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JoAnn29 Mar 13, 2019
I would not want them close. Looks like they could be demanding. Don't think at their ages a big move would be good for them.
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This was just discussed on another thread about the couple having to move 350 miles away for financial reasons and parents not being cooperative in their future care.

You said it "parents have always lived on their terms". Your marriage comes first. Make your plans and don't involve them until the plans have been made and you r ready to leave. Check out resources in ur area. Call ur local Office of Aging and see what they offer. Mine has a nice little booklet. Get one for you and brother if they have one. With modern technology you maybe able to do a lot from a distance. Coming home when you need to.

My opinion, if you don't do what you want, your parents will drain you. Sounds like no one has POA so this will make things so hard if they become incompetent. I would do what I wanted and worry about the rest as it happens.
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Dear Johnc1,
I am now 59 and was diagnosed with Early onset ALZ 3 yrs ago. My mother was the victim of medical malpractice and died six weeks before her 51st birthday. I flew to the city she and my stepfather lived in and had 7 minutes talking with her and all she was talking about was all of the things she and my stepfather were going to do when they retired. There was an 11 yr age difference between the two of them and they were planning on retiring 1 yr after she died.

My stepfather waited 2 yrs from the time she died and sent a letter to all 9 of us kids and said we had 18mos, to come home and collect boxes of memorabilia he had sorted out for each of us and take anything else we wanted from their home for ourselves, after 18mos, he was selling their house and moving away. Yes, we'd be welcome to visit him in the town he was moving to along with our families, but he was going to get on with life and he did. He went on to live another 35yrs when he died of ALZ disease.

Lesson to be learned. Do not allow your parents to hold you hostage and keep you from retiring and doing what you and your DW want to do. I have imparted this wisdom on our adult children so they don't think they need to stay in the Metropolitan Area that we live in. They've been told to finish their education and pursue their dreams, get married, and concentrate on their own families. The fly in our ointment is we have a 12yr old Special Needs child, that we have to take in to consideration. Still we remain focused on enjoying the time we have to share with each other, in particular traveling with what time I have left to do that.

I have told my DW who is 8yrs younger than me, when it is time for me to go to AL/MC put me in a home 100mi from where we live and get on with life. I don't want her or any of our children, to be focusing on me, when I don't remember them, or will not remember them visiting me. I don't want them being consumed feeling that I have to remain the center of their life. We've had a great 25 yrs combing our 2yrs dating with almost 23yrs of being married.

The time has come for you and your DW to realize some very special dreams of your own, you've worked hard to get there. Enjoy it while you can. Never put off to tomorrow, what you can do today.

Happy Friday, I too am John
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Barsenault60 Mar 15, 2019
John - such beautiful, selfless advise!
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yes, your parents have lived life on their terms. You are entitled to the same thing. You can live your life on your terms. Please don’t feel guilty moving away. They have had time to prepare for this. They have had time to prepare for when the times comes that they can’t take care of themselves. If they failed to make plans and incorrectly m assumed you would give up your life for them, that’s their decision to live with. Not yours.
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Reply to worriedinCali
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I took my mother with me. So I can say from experience: don't do that. Not even if they say they want to come. It will end in tears and everyone will blame you.

So. Your spectrum of possibilities ranges from "screw you oldies, we're off" with no thought to your parents' future at all; through to "oh well it was only a dream" and staying put until one or more of you dies, and it won't necessarily be your parents who go first.

Those are the extremes; what are the compromise options?

Can you ease into an enjoyable retirement that doesn't involve such a radical change of location?

Can you go ahead and change your location, but set up some kind of communication and visiting framework that offers support and reassurance to your parents?

I think: the really key resolution for you to make is that You Are In Charge. YOU decide what is the best and fairest way to carry out your plans for yourself and your wife while giving your parents the support YOU feel they are entitled to expect of you. It can be hard to remember this when you are hearing wails and gnashings of teeth and complaints and accusations, but stop and think - the fact that your mother says you are a wicked ungrateful uncaring child don't make it so.

Elderly people do not like change (neither do I, I'm not being critical). So keep them informed, give them time to adjust, and be ready to assist with any sensible plans they will consider. Just don't let them sabotage your own.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Hi John,

Unequivocally, no. I do not think you should give up your plans.

That said, without a plan for your parents, the chances that your future life will be derailed are very good. Yes, they may be functioning independently now, but you and I both know that can’t go on forever - one, or both are just one bad day away from needing LOTS of help.
You ‘Just leaving’ will not address this eventuality - they WILL need help. When that happens, you’re stuck no matter what.

So, my suggestion: do some research. Come up with a couple of plans for them that feel feasible and livable for you, based on YOUR plans - 2 or 3, based on cost. The top tier might assume a healthy budget for in home care, or a snazzy AL facility. A more moderate option might assume a less substantial sum - say, a more moderately priced facility, or a live-in caregiver who is working in part for a place to live, etc. only you know what might work. After independent living skills fail, what NH possibilities exist in their area? Which are the best choices? How and when would that transition happen? But work out the details, each and every one. Put it in writing.

They want your help, but at this point, it will have to be a reasonable scenario for both of you. They are ‘on their terms’ kinda folks - and that isn’t likely to change. But you can be too. Be very clear what you are, and are NOT willing to do. That’s the ‘on your terms’ part. You present the choices to them: plan A B or C. They get to pick. That’s the ‘on their terms’ part.

If, as you say, they for whatever reason, will not discuss their finances etc with you - the discussion still needs to happen notwithstanding, or you can not put a contingency plan in place for them when you move.

My thought is, might there be a trusted intermediary - a family member, friend, lawyer, financial planner with whom they WOULD have this discussion? They could talk with that individual, pick a plan accordingly, and get back to you. With that persons help, you could make the appropriate arrangements before you move. That way, you will not be moving back when a crisi occurs, or worse, moving one of them in with you in your new place.

Hope this is helpful. Take it from one who currently has a 92 yo at the breakfast table every morning perseverating about how many cars have driven by that day. You will not have the life you planned, if you don’t make plans NOT to have the one your parents have in mind!

-Andy
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JesusLove1976 Mar 15, 2019
Yes, your terms. Roles reversed. You are the caregiver now, and they want your help, even though they are bigger than you, your terms. They may be in their 90s, but we will always have someone to answer to, even if it is the electric company. Caregiving does not need to be harder than it already will be.
But what the Lord tells you, go with that!
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"I have considered postponing my retirement to appease my parents. . ." 

"My Mother has had some mental issues, but has always been very manipulative, selfish. . ."

No appeasement! Reading this forum you'll see that you can never really appease, please or placate self-centered, unreasonable parents. More importantly, you can't make them finally give you the parental love you deserve by winning their approval. It's sad but true. Provide any assistance on your terms and with your wife's blessing.

I vote no to appeasement and yes to your sanity, marriage and a fun, healthy retirement!
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JesusLove1976 Mar 15, 2019
Sacrificing for parents and sacrificing for children are two different things!

While, yes, for people to take on caregiving if they can, but do not criticize those who do not for you may believe you know the whole story, but cannot ever fully know. With kids, they are smaller than you. With parents, they are bigger than you, and cannot do anything about it if they refuse to take their meds, eat right, etc. People do not realize how difficult to care for anyone bigger than you, especially solo.
What is right for you is between the Good Lord and you. However, your wife does come first, so if she is not on board, she may have her reasons, especially women being more of the caregivers. I hope in Jesus, you find the right answer for you. But if you do not sacrifice retirement plans, if the Lord is alright with your plans, who are we to tell you different. But if your parents treat you the way they do, then how can they expect you to sacrifice your plans?
No one likes to live in a nursing home or AL, but doing what you do not like is not just young people stuff; it applies to even if you lived to be 130.
If there are anyone under 40 reading this post, do not believe that breaking down as you get elder is inevitable. There are plenty still living on their own, and died living alone. You can better your chances by enough healthy habits. I am not saying you cannot once in awhile have that Whopper, or Banana Cream Pie, but how we treat ourselves now paves the way for later. Respect your body's needs now, it will repay you. Treat it like a garbage dump, what can you expect? A lot of people feel worse as getting elder cannot be blamed on age; it is too many bad habits catching up to someone. If you are passed 40, not too late to start. Have the instruction of Jesus in you, and make choices and new habits to get you to where you live on your own fully as a senior instead of having your children give up their lives. We should look to stay independent, instead of looking to eventually be waited on hand and foot, and it is disheartening so many people are like that, instead of being grateful they can do for themselves while so many kids may never get to find out what it is like to be independent, may never get to walk, or do all the things healthy kids can, even sadly, lose their lives to cancer.
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John,
The correct responses here all say to go ahead with your dreams. Do it man.
Set a date and let everyone know.
The care of my in-laws and parents fell on my wife and I five years ago.
I moved my in-laws to a local AL. Not sure I would recommend that as worthwhile. It will put stress on you when they are bored or lonely.
Although we were able to eventually put three of them in AL, my mother resisted until recently. She is by far the worst; demanding, self centered, and just plain cruel. She usually puts on a good act with outsiders and friends. When she shows her true colors the friends disappear forever. She always had these personality issues. I try to help her with her affairs, but I am not sure I would say it is out of love. More out of duty because that is the type of person I am. I do feel a little like a doormat for having done it.
I am 63. Five years ago I was healthy, going to the gym daily, rarely taking meds. Now I take meds for health issues that were no doubt caused by the stress in my life (my cardiologist agrees). These issues started when I was 62 and I had to retire. The fun I was looking forward to is gone forever.
Do it now John. You owe no one your life or health.
Find your parents a place where they will be safe and cared for. While the feeling of responsibility is noble, their happiness is not your problem. Your happiness, and that of your wife, is your responsibility. You are not selfish. Get some happiness now while you can.
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Isthisrealyreal Mar 15, 2019
Very well put enderby.

I am sorry that you have had to go through what you have because 4 people decided they were more important than their children.

Hopefully when the stress is reduced some of your physical conditions will improve.
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John, would you feel despondent if your parents had said, "great, have a wonderful time, don't forget to write, we love and will miss you!"?

If you answered no, then you need to stop listening to the manipulation. It is unfair that they want you to give up your dreams because they aren't willing to do anything differently. That's what this boils down to, they will have to assume responsibility for themselves because you aren't there to prop them up.

I personally believe if you need propping up, you need professional care. Whether they like it or not is not your concern. Parents that say they refuse to give up their independence and rely on their children to do everything but breathe and crap for them are deceived. They have no independence, they have a personal slave that props up the lie.

Sorry if I sound harsh but I get angry when parents live their lives on their terms and refuse to love and respect their offspring enough to not tie themselves around there necks and drown them if necessary to keep their lives the way they want them. It is selfish and should not be tolerated. You are a grown man with your own life and your mom obviously could care less about you and your family.
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BlackHole Mar 15, 2019
Spot on.
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