Should my husband and I purchase a house for my elderly parents?

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I am an only child and my parents live over 1400 miles from me. My dad probably has mild to moderate dementia (he will be tested soon) and my mom has a brain tumor but is functioning better now. Within the past 2 years I flown at least 12 times to take my dad to appointments, visit my mom in the hospital and set up home care. I caught the flu and was so stressed out trying to manage their home and mine. It was also stressful for our pre-teen. Mom recently fired her home care assistants due to suspicision of theft! There is no way for me to know if anyone had stole or if things were thrown away by accident. Mom doesn't want to hire another person to help her with house cleaning, bathing etc. My dad needs help and coaxing to bathe. I am POA and manage their expenses. My dad was resistant to move until my mom pleaded her case. She agreed for me to apply for an IL apartment approx. 20 miles away from me. But there is a 6-18 month waiting list and we've waited 6 months. I don't want to wait any longer because (upon a recent visit) caring for my dad is tough on my mom. The IL apartment costs 2x their current apartment. I have talked to my parents about us purchasing a home for them to live in (not with my parent's finances). My husband and I would select a home with zero or minor cosmetic repair needs, in a good school district (for future resale or rental) and one that is less than the cost of the IL apartment. Purchasing it ourselves will help avoid the asset provision with Medicaid (when the time comes for them to apply). They will keep their current apartment, in case they don't like their new place. My parents would pay the mortgage, taxes and expenses for repairs, maintenance etc. and we wouldn't charge them for rent. They have the money to afford the move and to save. My husband and I have another home (almost paid off) that his mother pays the mortgage on. The benefit of a move is I can monitor them almost daily, not quarterly. I would take my parents to medical appointments and activities at least 2x a week. My mom understands that they will need an aide to help at least 1-2 days a week because of my family's schedule. The benefit of the IL apartment is there are on-site activities that they can participate in on their own. What am I missing here? I don't want to make a hasty decision. What are the pitfalls of purchasing a home for your parents?

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With failing elders the last thing you want to do is buy real estate. I would advise looking for a senior living place that is progressive. Assisted living to skilled nursing care/memory care.

You'll have enough to worry about as things go downhill for your folks without the added hassles of upkeep on a house.
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If they are paying the mortgage and taxes on a house that you own, there could be questions about asset diversion for Medicaid. You need an Elder Care attorney. That issue aside, you're solving a short-term problem (caring for elderly folks) with a long-term solution (home purchase).

Your idea of moving them closer is a wonderful idea. First choice is assisted living or a senior facility with caregivers available. Yes, it's more expensive than renting an apartment. But with their medical problems, they're going to need more help ANY TIME. If a senior facility isn't available, find an apartment or rent a house. Get them nearby. And remember, things will undoubtedly change within a year. You're just making a decision for that period of time.
Jamie
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I'm kinda wondering about existing house #2 and the MIL situation.
So what is MILs health & finances like? She pays the mortgage, right? So what happens if she couldn't? What if she suddenly needed lots of help? And just who really deals with MIL when she needs something? Who deals with property #2 upkeep? What's the breakdown on this between you & hubs?

If dealing with your folks PLUS property #3 ends up with oodles more time & $$$ than dealing with MIL.... will this be an issue for hubs? Will he actually help you with yours if needed? Not to sound harsh, but just how much of a sense of humor & tolerance will hubs & your son have towards your folks? 

I'm assuming that money isn't an overall issue for you & hubs or for his mom or your parents (everybody has plenty $$$); BUT rather the bigger reason for moving your folks is so important is that you are gone away from hubs, your son & your home too too much for a happy home life & your health. So in theory, you will have more time & you will be happier/healthier, if they are in the same city. Is that a driver in the decision to move them to your state, your city? If so, don't count on that happening.

It sounds like they really cannot live on their own, right now they sort of manage at their apt now cause so much of their daily life is routine... they are on auto pilot. Right now, they know without thinking where the light switch is, how to get to the drugstore, who to call when a fuse goes out, plus there's neighbors who know who they are... but once they move and move 1400 miles away to a new place (& I'd bet visually very different), it's going to be 24/7 all on you. The concept of "monitor them almost daily" well good luck on that. I'd bet a case of Prosecco they are going to be constantly calling you. If your mom right now fires all help which your dad realistically needs & accuses them of stealing in an apartment she's knows & is accustomed to, she's going become unglued in a new place. It sounds like they really need a really good AL or perhaps MC or even NH? I'd suggest you get them both evaluated for level of care needed before moving them into a  house or IL situation. & pls check with her oncologist regarding follow up on her brain tumor with a referral & care plan to soak with the MD in your city regarding transferring her as a patient before the move.
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There is so much to consider, so you are smart to do your research. I agree about seeing an attorney, accountant or financial planner. Lots of things to consider like taxes. Also, considering your parent's situation and what documents they need and are they valid in your state. I wouldn't skimp on getting good solid advice from experts, though, there are usually some great responses on this site.

I'd also consider how the new place may need to be fitted for safety features, like grab bars, ramps, doors widened , etc. (seniors can take a fall or lose mobility in a short time) could add up, plus, just because they say they will accept outside help now, doesn't mean they will when it comes to it.

You say your dad has dementia and your mom is accusing people of stealing....maybe, she's right, but, that is also a common symptom of cognitive decline. I might spend a least a few days with them in their home so you can observe just how able mom is to live alone and care for a spouse with dementia, even with outside help. It's a huge job and I would really question if one senior who is declining can do it for the other spouse who is even more affected.

LO's may promise to be cooperative and allow the helpers to help, but, sometimes, it doesn't work out that way and you end up getting calls around the clock. I'd read a lot of the experiences that others have encountered on this site just to see what can happen and how it can be a rather life changing experience. I hope you find answers that work for you.
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Little red flags started popping up when I read that your mother will be responsible for paying the mortgage, and that she's already paying on a mortgage on another house you own.

First, there's the financial issue of that money being paid for a house which she doesn't own, if she ever needs Medicaid.

Second, there's the issue that she won't have a fee interest since title will be in your names. I doubt any mortgagee (lender) would grant a mortgage under those conditions.

That literally leaves the fee holders (you and your husband) without obligation for the mortgage, and an elderly woman responsible for it. It might not even be possible to get a mortgage under those conditions unless you deal with one of the lower level lenders, and I definitely wouldn't suggest that.

I do think the idea of moving them closer is a good one, for a lot of reasons, but I would seriously think about a place which doesn't require maintenance or upkeep.
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No. No. No. If you still plan on an independent-assisted-nursing home transition why buy a house for a few months. Move them into an apartment near you and wait for the selected facility to have an opening. Sounds like you are building a real estate empire using your parent's money.
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I think you could rent the apartment to your parents with a rental contract to get around one of the problems mentioned. However I do think an elder attorney or estate planner would be wise to guide you through this decision. Do I understand correctly that you are already doing this same arrangement with your MIL?
I feel for your preteen. You might be gone quarterly now but it will seem like you are gone all the time when your parents move closer. You will most likely need more help than you are budgeting for. Regardless of whether you wait for a rental or purchase a home, your parents needs will increase and change as time goes by.
You can always sell the home if it doesn't work out the way you envision.
Closer makes more sense if they don't have a care network where they are living now.
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One of the things that you should look for if you purchase a house is one that is fully adapted already. By that I mean one that is handicap accessible.
Roll in shower
Grab bars where you need them
No stairs
Wide doors
Wide halls
open concept
no carpet
durable floors.
And this does not take into account when either or both will need 24/7 care. You will have to at that point have someone move in with them or it would be another move to Assisted Living or more likely Memory Care.
I could go on but you get the idea.
A house like that is not easy to find.
I think the best thing would be to get them into the appropriate facility now while they are better able to adjust both physically and mentally.
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You need less stress, not more. Assisted living best option, 55+ apartment living is a second choice but my bet is that you will have to move them again soon into AL.
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There are many ideas to consider above. While reading them, I thought of another. I'd consider that if your mom is thinking that various people are stealing from her and she doesn't trust them.....she could easily start saying that about you or other family members.(For absolutely no reason.) It's not uncommon. I'd try to incorporate than possibility into my plan.
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