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So, short story:
91 year old Dad, Parkinson's, dementia (at least partially Alzheimers), depression, currently in assisted living, $10K left in his bank account, nearly-depleted $115K home equity loan, only income from Social Security
88 year old stepmom, cancer, aneurysm, living at home (which is in a trust in Dad's name, for which I am likely to become the trustee given his dementia)


First off, we do have an elder care attorney to handle the legal aspects.


I'm looking for a reality check and some ideas. The doctors think Dad will need memory care in 2-3mo, which will likely cost $5000+/month more than what's available (including his longterm care insurance). Our ideal scenario is her and Dad in the same community--her in independent living, him in memory care. She says she's not ready for 'senior living' and claims she won't be able to move out of the house by mid-October.


Is it realistic she needs nearly four months to relocate (less than 30min away)?
Is there something we can do to facilitate the move to make her more comfortable?
Should we start asking for rent? Her monthly income includes SS (hers and her husbands), pension (hers and her husbands), and revenue from a small apartment building left to her by her husband


I know we can't force her to move to a certain location, and, even though we think it would be better for Dad for them to be in the same community, maybe we can live with her moving to an apartment so we can monetize the house.


Thoughts?

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Adam, it just seems to become more complicated, doesn't it?

1. Without being blunt, what is the stage of your stepmother's cancer? Is she in chemo or radiation now? Even without knowing that information, someone living with cancer is facing a tremendous challenge in terms of contemplating her own future. Consideration of moving could be more than she could handle, let alone the move itself.

2. The flip side of the issue is that she might actually be more comfortable living with your father, but there's always that issue of his dementia, which could really challenge her ability to adjust to living somewhere else, and once again feeling the responsibility to care for him even if they are in separate units (and I question the value of that).

3. And while I would hope this isn't the situation, she may be exhausted from the turmoil she and your father have gone through and just want some peace now that she's living alone. As I recall, she was working hard to care for your father and the house despite the fact that she was battling cancer. She may just need this time for a respite.

4. I think the delay in moving is her way of putting off dealing with the issue; it just may be more than she can contemplate at this time. I certainly can understand and attest to the fact that this kind of delay in planning exists, whether dementia, cancer or even old age are present.

And there have been a LOT of changes in your parents' lives.

5. I definitely wouldn't ask for rent. I think that would make her feel rejected from the family and considered more of a renter than a stepmother.

6. Could the building left by her husband be sold and the funds used for your father's care? Or is that not an option under the antenuptial agreement?

7. I wouldn't be comfortable with showing the house while she's living there, even though it might be the best move financially and market wise. I think it will make her feel pushed, pressured, perhaps unwanted by your side of the family. I recognize the need, but I think her feelings are more important. I would try to make her a part of any changes so she doesn't feel left out or as if the family is making plans about her life w/o her input.

8. Is there a possibility she could live with one of her adult children? I know that this isn't going to be a popular suggestion but I get the impression your family has cordial relations and works together for a solution, that you're all professionals and working together for a solution, and that may be one to keep her with family until the house is sold and funds are available for your father's longer term care.

9. As to encouraging her to adapt to the concept of moving, perhaps her own children could visit once a week or so, with the goal of working on one room, or one aspect, slowly and leisurely packing while combining casual conversation. Begin or end the day with lunch or dinner - make it a social as well as a working event.

I would never let her pack alone though; it will be too traumatic and sad. She needs companionship to do this.

10. If it's not realistic to dispose of some things, either pack them for storage at her children's homes or rent a storage unit. That way she knows they're still available for her. And in time she may gradually forget what's there. I did when we did that after my sister died. I'm still surprised at what I kept.

11. If it's feasible, perhaps she could even spend a weekend, then a week or two, with one of her children to begin the moving and leaving her home acclimation process.


This is really a tough decision; please give yourself and your family enough time to work it out so that you don't feel pressured or regret any decisions.
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As your fathers wife of 18 years, is she not legally responsible for the cost of keeping your father in memory care? What is her solution for paying the bill? Obviously it would have been best for your dad if she had followed through and moved in with him - but now that your father is moving to memory care I believe that is a mute point and in the event of this new development would have been somewhat counter productive- if she had in fact moved in with him. I can not see - and frankly have never heard of a married couple living in the same room in memory care. So SM would have been in AL - where she did not want or necessarily need to be in the first place and your dad would still be moving into memory care. Was the beach house her primary residence for the 18 years of their marriage? If so, I can't fathom asking her to move out - it is her home. Paying rent on the home she shared with her husband also seems a bit unreasonable, in my opinion. Yet - if bills need to be paid it also follows that as his wife she may have to make decisions regarding how that's going to happen. Looking at it from SMs standpoint- she has lost her husband to dementia, she has cancer - of course she wants to remain in what I can only imagine- is a beautiful beach house, when she spent her married life and I imagine where she'd like to remain until the end of her life - wouldn't you feel the same? But back to the other hand - if there is no other money to pay for dads care - put the decision back into her court. "SM - I understand you want to remain in the beach house - what other options do YOU have for paying for YOUR husbands care"? Like I said - just seems to be an odd disconnect between his, hers, and theirs in this situation.
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Adam - I find myself looking at this from so many contradictory points of view it's making my head hurt. I do not envy the position you're in that's for sure - I can't even imagine how this all feels to you! I'm gonna think on this some more while I vaccum - next to the shower this is when I do my best brainstorming- lol! But - before I forget I wanted to say - I commend you for approaching the issue of paying for your fathers care in such an upright, straightforward manner. Everyday we see post after post where people want ideas on how to squirrel away and hide their parents money from the government so they can get Medicaid and still get a nice big inheritance. Frankly, those posts chap my hide. So my dear - good for you! I admire your character- just not your position- lol!
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My thought is that stepmom must have at least as much responsibility to pay for her husband's care as you do, no? In which case show her the numbers and ask her how she plans to manage.
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Right now my husband and I are getting ready to clean out my inlaws' little cabin so that we can show it and find renters. If I were a potential renter and walked into the cabin right now, saw all the personal effects and clutter, I would walk right back out.

What are you going to do with your stepmom when the realtor needs to show the house? Stepmom must vacate so as to give potential buyers the freedom to look around. The house won't sell if it's too difficult to show it. The realtor knows that and they will put their energies toward a house that's easier to show.
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Actually, sorry, can I take that back?

Her cancer... is she thinking that she might die before she has to leave, do you think? Is that in a way what she hopes will happen?

This is incredibly hard. Does she have any support team that you can ask for help with discussions? - care manager, counsellor, therapist, anyone?
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Another thought, long shot perhaps....

I'm assuming that one or more of your stepmother's children hold proxies to manage her affairs? If so, would they be willing to free up some assets to pay for your father's care, with the caveat that she would be reimbursed on sale of your father's house?

It might actually be a bargaining chip.
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WannaBe, the stepmother has cancer. Evicting her under those circumstances is one of the most cruel acts I can imagine.
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Adam, it is very difficult for our elders to downsize from their homes. Yes, it could take your Step-Mom four months to be ready to move, probably even longer. It all depends on if she can walk away from more than half of her and your Dad's stuff.

I was able to move my Dad into assisted living as he wasn't fussy about what furniture to take, but he wanted all his books. So I asked him to start thinning them out. The standard joke around his house was Dad went through 200 books and kept 199. He even wanted an old set of encyclopedias from the 1930's, and another set from the 1960's. So we moved them to his new place. Now, if my Mom was still alive, there would have been no move at all.

Yes, try to keep your Step-Mom and your Dad in the same community. As for charging your Step-Mom rent, I wouldn't do that. But try to explain to Step-Mom that it is going to be expensive for her husband to live in memory-care, what would she suggest to help with the cost. Let it be her idea.
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So, an update: Stepmom has found an apartment nearby and will be moving out in October.
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