My parents are financially broke, always asking for money - yet won't take responsibility. What do we do? - AgingCare.com

My parents are financially broke, always asking for money - yet won't take responsibility. What do we do?

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My parents are so overwhelmed they don't know what to do. It's almost as if they are in denial that they need to take action.

My sister and I love them dearly; however, we can't continue to come to the rescue each time they need money - which is becoming more often and more money is needed. It is only putting a bandaid on the problem - and isn't leading to a sustainable, healthy financial outcome for them long term. In addition, it is financially draining for both my sister and me...we do without at times for them, which causes a strain on our own families and children.

I have told my parents they need a plan and they have to act on it - and that they have our support to help develop what that is. I have sat down with them on several occasions to develop a budget - listing 'income' (they live off of social security only) and expenses, to show them in black and white the situation. From there, I have provided them information on how to apply for food stamps, suggested financial counseling, talking to their minister, talking to a realtor regarding selling their home so they could live off the equity they have built. But they do nothing - they haven't used the budget, and don't have a plan of action. We can only do so much...they have to take responsibility for implementing the plan.

My parents are college educated, have morals and are great parents - but their lack of responsibility with regard to their financial situation does not make sense to me. I struggle to understand this...and it is causing me stress to the point of affecting my health - which I take responsibility for making sure I change that.

I have a call today with my company's EAP to see if they have any suggestions or resources - would welcome any suggestions from this community, as well. Thank you!

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Well that it is real estate is good at least that's something tangible rather than one of them has a gambling addiction or other things like that,.

What state is this oceanfront albatross located?
How underwater is it?
What % of the other units are occupied? for sale? or defaulted on?
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I'd talk to a lawyer about the Condo. Is there any way to sub-lease or rent it out so you're making money? There has to be a solution there.
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Thank you for your comments and questions - it's great to get some objective perspective on this. My parents are 71 and 74 and in good mental and physical shape (we are so grateful); however, live 6 hours away in another state, and do not have visibility of their financial statements/canceled checks; however, when I do sit down with my dad, they are literally spending their money on basic living expenses (house, food, gas, utilities, etc.) - however, the major drain is they are paying for a interval ownership of a beachfront condo that they have been trying to sell for 2 years. The economy has affected people wanting to buy interval ownerships, so they haven't been able to sell. This is costing them $500-600/month - and I would advise them to default or file bankruptcy to get out from under this, but their home is the collateral for this loan - and they need the equity from their primary home to support their future. I may need some legal advice on this to validate my thinking. I really appreciated the advice of physically taking them to apply for food stamps and to financial counseling - I will plan some time off work for a long weekend in the near future. Thanks again for all of your advice, what a nice community forum.
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How old are your parents and do they have enough income to make ends meet? Are you able to account for how they spend their money, via cancelled checks, etc.?
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You do know what to do, in theory at least. Stop bailing them out.

And you even know some great steps to take to do this without abandoning them to disaster -- establish a budget, seek aid like food stamps, consider selling the house, etc.

What you don't know is what to do when your parents won't take these sensible steps. Yes, stop bailing them out, but how to do that without alienating them and without seeing them in disasterous circumstances?

I think Jane is on to something with her suggestion of TAKING them to apply for food stamps. See if you can get a social services caseworker assigned to them. Set up and take them to a financial counselling appointment.Don't rely on them to follow through on your sensible suggestions.

You've set up a budget for them. Is it do-able to live within their means? What do they spend their money on that sabotages them?

Good luck ... and stop sending money.
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Find out who else is coming around when you're not there. 10 to 1 there's some con man or panhandler that's got them figured for a easy mark. THAT may be where a lot of YOUR money is going! Support some drug habit of some low-life stranger that you don't even know!

Another thing to look for is sometimes they get their dollar bills confused. A $20 bill looks just like a $1 bill to some patients! The low-life's know this and will take advantage of it.

Other times, the patients will hide the cash and forget where they put it. Sometimes even end up in the trash!
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I was wondering the same things as naheaton: is this how they have always been, or is it new behavior? If new, they may need a medical assessment. If old, they won't change. I think you hit it on the head: they ARE in denial. And probably proud, as well. Can you or another family member TAKE them to apply for food stamps? What I finally figured out, after a long time, was they reach the point where they can't take suggestions and can't initiate action. All around them are signs of an unstable world and declining capacity to meet day to day challenges. So, they need to be lead to the door of the next challenge and helped through.
Finally, tough as this is to stick to, maybe you and sister need to decline to send more money. If they keep hearing you say, "No more. This is the last time. You need a budge and you need to stick to it," and then they get another check, what incentive do they have to change? Remember how you had to treat your kids when they were more likely to make the impulse decision than to think through the consequences? This is how they are now. Good luck!
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Is this the way it's been for them financially for all their married life? If not, then there's something else going on here, maybe dementia. If, however this is a 'normal' thing, then I don't know how you can change the behavior at this late date unless someone totally takes over their finances. I personally would be mortified if I had to have my son constantly bailing me out financially. I'd live on the street before I'd do that to him. That's NOT what parents are supposed to ask of their kids.
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