How many of our caregiver burnout and other questions are really about money?

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I care for my 92 yr old mom and 94 yr old dad with dementia at my home. I do this because my brother is dead and his 3 kids need money to pay for their college. Mom and Dad had committed to doing this, so I send them money for tuition. If I put mom and dad into a nursing home, it would eat up their savings and the kids would get nothing. How many of you are in the same position, caring for an elder person with dementia at home in order to stretch out their savings so that grandchildren can be provided for?

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I think it would be rare to find a caregiving situation where money was not a concern at all. Many adult children provide care to parents primarily as a matter of cost containment. A lot of it is just free labor for people who won't or can't afford to pay for it.

That said, I would not do what the OP is doing. I would not provide care for free so my parent's money could go to benefit the next generation. To keep them from starving, yes. To send them to college, no.

My perspective is undoubtedly influenced by the fact that I put myself through college, and law school, with no family help at all. My parents divorced when I was a teenager and they were scraping to provide the bare minimum for two households, never mind college tuition for any of us. Four of the 7 of us are 4-year college graduates and two are nursing school graduates. One other sibling has an advanced degree. We all paid our own way.

I think college is really important, but would I dip into my retirement to pay for college for nephews and nieces? Absolutely no way!
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No, no Garden. I just didn't want cat6214 to think that I thought it was not a good idea to send the kids to college. We all want the best for kids, for the next generation. I was just trying to present another viewpoint that she may have not considered. She can still honor her parents' and brother's wishes but not be in such a huge financial hole. I'm also half-asleep right now (and rambling, sorry!) because I was up all-night long, thinking about my elderly mother's future outlook. I love her so much but I wish she would die because her outlook is not a good one and it tears me up so much inside to see her slowly suffer with absolutely no quality of life. A friend of mine in my Sunday morning tennis league recently told us her mother (living out of state) suddenly died and though this friend is still in shock, she's so grateful that it happened quickly with no long drawn-out painfully slow decline and that other family just happened to stop by that day. Her mother was the same age as my mother. I, frankly, in that moment felt a little jealous and resentful that this friend's mother passed with no suffering as my mother has been slowly declining since my father expired in 2007. I'm an only child with no other relatives in the country - ever - and I was so very close to both parents for different reasons. I love my mother so much but good God/Universe, when will all end is on my mind - all the time! My mother's doctor keeps telling me to put my mother in "the home". I'm like...for what?! At 5 to 7K/month, he wants me to put Mom in "the home" where the staff will just stick her in front of the tv all day long because she's non-functional, non-communicative? Seriously?! I'm a numbers gal - and is such a waste of money when I get someone to care for Mom in our home @ 40 hours a week @ 2.5K/month. Mom is slowly declining from vascular dementia; She doesn't have memory issues, it's verbal recall and now she just speaks in absolute gibberish because she's frustrated she can't recall the words she used to know; She has severe urinary incontinence and her undergarments have to changed every two hours, at bedtime I put a super plus booster pad (which looks like the maxi-pad from hell!) to try to get her to sleep through the night; she has arthritis and can't feed herself; she has no teeth due to gum disease and refuses to wear dentures so all foods must be pureed; she has severe food allergies so she's on a completely different diet from me (meal prepping and planning for both of us is a 20-hr week job!); she in chronic pain in her lower back from lack of movement (she's a Hoyer lift); and she's lost mobility due to progressive vascular demential. However, she doesn't yell;she doesn't scream so I do get my full night's rest. She just do anything. You know what I mean?! Because I'm an only child with no other relatives, taking care of aging parents is my first time around in dealing with aging issues. I have no regrets. It's freakin' sucks because I'm totally helpless in her decline. She's like my child and it hurts see your child suffer. All caregivers feel this way about their aging loved ones, you know? Ugh. My gym down the street has a sauna. I'm sooo going over after dinner to help me unwind and have a goodnight's rest because last night's rest was so not rest. Good night and catch you all next time! :-)
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Careisgiving - that's what I thought you were saying...perhaps I wasn't clear, but I also agree that community colleges offer a lot. I went to both and actually got more practical knowledge from courses at the CC than through the university.

Sorry if I inferred or suggested any misunderstanding.
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I'm definitely no saying cat6214 shouldn't send the kids to college - just do it the cheapest way with the greatest ROI - and not go into debt and not risk the retirement income and a potentially higher tax bracket for withdrawing the retirement income. There's a way to do it cheaply, you just have to find the time to research it - Lord knows we caregivers don't have that much spare time. In college, I had a best friend whose father was a very successful doctor and his family could afford any top, private, Ivy League jet-set lifestyle college. His doctor father and wife were smart with money from day one of their young married life. The parents chose to send the son (my best friend), his sister, and his brother to the state university and instead of wasting money on dormitories and food, the parents' bought a small home, nothing fancy at all as it was a small college town (back then, anyways) where all the kids rotated in living in there while going to college. All three kids were accepted to Ivy League graduate schools. And the parents actually made money, made a profit compared to the fees they paid for the kids' schooling by selling the home after the last kid was done. Now that's the way to do it. I wish my parents' thought of that.
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Excellent points, CareisGiving, and I agree completely. There's too much emphasis on college for the sake of going to college, also with little emphasis on the difference between community and 4 year colleges.

There are also a lot of dissatisfied people with nonSTEM or other majors in low paying and low demand areas who are concerned that there aren't jobs for them.

TIME had an article to this effect a few years ago; many of the liberal arts majors were w/o jobs but had big student loans which they couldn't pay off.
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You don't mention what the kids' educational and/or career goals are. Are all the kids going to a 4-yr college and not getting a scholarship or grant or some other government assistance? If so, you should consider sending all the kids to a local community 2-yr college first, then transfer them to a 4-yr state university for the last two years. This is a much more affordable option then sending them straight to a 4-yr university. If their GPA is good enough at the local community college, some state universities offer free or reduced tuition for the last two years. The first two years of a 4-yr college (back in my day) were completely useless and not relevant to my major (biochemistry). The first two years is all humanities, foreign language and some mathematics requirements - all of which can easily be completed at a community college tuition rate. It's the last two years that really count towards earning a major. Ivy League universities even accept outstanding local community college transfer students and this alone saves the families close to 100K if the students don't qualify for university financial assistance. And you should also consider how relevant will their degrees be in getting an actual paying job. Kids are pretty much guaranteed a job in the hard/engineering/computer sciences and biological sciences if they earn at least 2.8 overall GPA. Accountancy programs, most of them, require at least a 3.0 overall GPA (again, back in my day) but as long as passed the CPA, you were pretty much guaranteed a job earning good pay at one of the top accounting firms in the country. But if the kids are looking at philosophy or some other liberal arts degree with no intention of going on to law, medical, or PhD program, then you should also consider this financial consequence, too, because their immediate job prospects right after graduation will not be good - not impossible - but just not that great. A 4-year degree is no guarantee for a paying job in today's pathetic job market - and it's not going to get better any time soon. If anything, the kids should be working in an internship right away while they are in college so they have the right skillset to land a job upon graduation. If they can get into a company interning, some companies will pay for the kids' education contingent upon finishing the degree. In Arizona, where we live, Startbucks is offering free 4-year tuition at ASU (Arizona State University) for all part-time employees. I don't know the specifics on this but I did read this in the local business journal either last year or the year before. Trade professions, like plumbers and welders can make nearly 60K/year coming right out of school - compare this to an English Lit major working in public relations starting at around 24-30K/year. I understand you want all of the kids to have a college degree but I ask you think twice before readily jumping into your 40(1)K to pay for their degree - unless they've been accepted to a top-paying graduate program or are in a major that is sought after, then, maybe, they can pay you back for their college expenses for the sacrifice you've made for them. Your parents are in their 90's. You should be thinking now about how to stretch out your retirement with minimal expenses because we're all living longer and top medical care, top facility care isn't cheap. God-willing, you could live longer than your parents. If given the choice, how many of us really want to go on Medicaid? Not many.
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Sorry, I was posting as Cat posted her response above mine. If that's the priority, then apparently nothing will change. The grandchildren are indeed lucky to have such a generous aunt and grandparents.
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I'm always concerned when I read that someone is reserving or paying an elder's money for a younger relative's tuition. The elders NEED that money for their own care; if there's anything left after death, that's a different story.

I've also wondered how much the younger recipients are contributing personally to care of their grandparents or other relatives who have been generous in providing financial assistance.

Over the years, there's developed an apparent attitude that financing one's education is more and more acceptable, especially with government funded programs. For those in the study of medicine or law, with long protracted academic programs, I can see that. I don't imagine there are many people who can work and earn enough on their own to go to medical school.

But there are people who are also relying on tuition assistance for shorter programs, some who aren't working while going to school and getting that necessary experience of interaction in a workplace environment.

When I was going to school, it was always easy to tell the full timers who weren't working from those who were working either part or full time and either putting themselves through school or providing as much self support for tuition as they could. The difference in level of maturity and responsibility was obvious.

I realize that Cat's parents are very, very generous to help their grandchildren, and this is a credit to them. But her parents need to be considered as high priorities as well. AKDaughter's points about Medicaid lookback on the tuition are well taken. The grandparents need to keep their funds on reserve for their own needs and care.
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The grandchildren's college tuition needs will come first. Period. That is how my parents wanted it when they still had their wits about them. I do not expect to inherit anything... this is all about the kids. When my parents' money is exhausted then I will dig into my 401K to pay for the kids' college tuition.
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Unfortunately money enters into every decision we make for the care of our parents. Some choose to care for them at home in hopes of preserving an inheritance. Others feel that an inheritance is not worth the work and stress of at home care. Of course, there are many who do not have money to pay for facility care.

Although it is admirable that you and your parents want to help your brother's children with college, the fact that you are asking this question makes me think that you have reached your limit of caregiving. You don't say where the grandchildren are with their education, but has anyone looked into other means of financing the tuition? There are lots of scholarships, grants and loans available. The children could also work part-time to help with expenses. Personally I think that students value their education more if they contribute to the cost. It is also an incentive for them to stay on track and get that degree if they are helping to foot the bill. Maybe your parents could contribute less and then be able to afford assisted living? It is generally less than half the cost of a nursing home.

One added note - if your parents should exhaust their savings and need Medicaid in the future, the tuition payments could be considered a gift and present problems. It is my understanding that tuition paid directly to the school is OK, but money put into a savings account for future tuition is considered a gift. Hopefully Igloo will weigh in on this situation.
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