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My parents are 87 years old. I am witnessing financial decisions they made earlier in their life that has put them in a time that could leave them without resources to pay for their funeral or to have a nice assisted living center. They may end up in a care center provided by the gov't after all assets are sold.
This is so hard to sever my emotions to their past, poor financial judgments. It makes me very anxious because I want to solve their problems.
I just wonder how others manage to keep themselves 'distanced' enough from the ones who they care for so that I can live my own life without their worries and stresses.

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Most care centers are not "provided by the gov't". They are privately owned, sometimes for profit and sometimes not. The level and quality of care people get in any center does not depend on whether they pay privately or Medicaid pays. In fact, only the billing staff knows that -- the nurses and caregivers and aids do not know how the payments are made. This may reduce your stress a little concerning what will happen when they need residential care.

What assets to they own? Can you talk to them about selling enough to purchase a small insurance policy to cover their funerals, or to pre-pay for their funerals. It gives my mother a lot of peace of mind to know this is taken care of.

If you can do something about their financial state, such as encouraging them to get insurance, do your best. For things you can do nothing about, such as decisions made in the past, let them go. Fretting and worrying and stressing out will not change a thing.

Focus on the present and future. Given the current situation (never mind whose fault it was that it got this way) is there anything you can do to make their future better? Do it. Don't worry about things you can't change.
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Dear 2 daughters,
I really understand what you mean. The emotions you feel about them after leaving a mess for you to clean up.
My FIL put up a good front and people thought he had money. Actually, he left a giant pile of debt, mortgages etc.
I am dealing .......with the anger I now have.......... over the mess he left in my lap. Extended family imply that I am hiding something because he always acted so "financially together." BTW he had zero life insurance and now I must pay to bury him out of my own pocket. So I had him cremated w no viewing. Extended family & friend thinks I am cheap and/or keeping money or? All the explaining...........I am so tired of it all. So I understand you emotions.
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You can't recreate the past for them. My late MIL was a real financial terrorist and if there was the wrong path to take that was obvious, she took it and stopped along the way to spend more $$. What was interesting in seeing how her sons (my DH & his brothers) dealt with it. Maybe it's a guy thing, but none of them ever felt they needed to solve her problems. It was more that she was the problem which is a different mindset. They did not buy into her diatribe on "I'm a poor widow woman & nobody loves me so I just have to eat worms…." nonsense. Neither did us DIL's.

So what to do….you kinda have to be bitterly realistic as to the future costs for them. Can you go over their expenses & income to see exactly where they stand? If they have a home, review the whole tax, insurance, utility and maintenance situation. If they just cannot afford to pay for all on the home, then the home needs to be sold and they move into IL or senior housing or subsidized senior housing. At 87, they have beaten the aging tables so could live another 5 years for your dad or another 8 - 10 for your mom. So there is time to make changes for the better.
Now would be a good time to do this, as with Thanksgiving and the Holidays coming up, you will hopefully have the opportunity to talk rationally with other family on the train wreck you see on the horizon. Good luck.
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I've beem married for 32 years. When I met my husband his mother was 65, just retired and her husband had been dead 5 years. She was a nice lady/good person but had no clue how to manage finances. She did know how to spend it though and did she ever, fancy clothes, cruises, hair and nails, gifts for everyone, etc. She almost ran out of money when she met another man and married again at age 72. Saved her a**....he had money. Then he became mentally incompetent and he spent every last dime and then died. So once again she had a home that she sold and his social security which was better than hers. After 15 years she managed to spend all of that, same story. She didn't know how to save and throughout the years my anxiety level increased knowing that the burden would fall on me to fix this since my husband ignored and kept saying "don't worry". At age 95 she finally was broke and wanted to move in with her daughter who took every cent of her monthly SS and small pension before we pulled her out of there to live with us. After 2 1/2 years of taking care of her....she's healthy but has bad dementia, she fell and broke her hip and eventually ended up in a nursing home. I had been her primary caretaker and had so much anger and frustration throughout the time she lived with us because we never were"friends". Once she came to us her own daughter forgot about her entirely so I was the one that fed, bathed, changed diapers and got woken up all hours of the night with her wanderings, hallucinations and talking out loud to imaginary friends, etc. Once she entered the nursing home, we got our own lives back and we are happier and healthier since the stress is gone. She is well taken care of and enjoys being there. The place isn't fancy but the people are nice and the essentials are taken care of. We are in California and she will get state aid to pay for everything so we DO NOT have to pay for anything. She is 97 plus and this is the path she inadvertently chose herself when she ignored our warnings for years to manage her money better. WE all have the responsibility to do what we have to in life for our own survival. I don't believe that we have to suffer for our parents' mistakes. Do what you can to get her on the road to somewhere acceptable for her and be okay with that. You can still love her and visit and do anything you want to show you care, but please don't go down the road of carrying it all yourself.
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My dad made many wrong financial decisions, almost to the point where it looked as if he did not care. I had to get him out of credit card debt, sister and I had to pay for their heating bill a few times, etc. I took over the finances after that, got them back on track, and dad ended going on senior programs for a few years, energy assistance, agency on aging program, and eventually he needed nursing home care and got on medicaid. I kept him home as long as possibly could, he spent 3 months there and passed away. Now my mother only gets his social security, he signed his pension as a single annuity, therefore she was not the beneficiary. Thank God for a small insurance policy that helped with the funeral. I know the emotional aspect of what you are going thru. Just do the best you can and if you face decisions you do not want to make, but have to, so be it. Life is not easy, but we are not miracle workers either. You will feel better in the long run, knowing you just did the best you can for them.
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you have to change your perspective on life. its not a problem to be solved. its a journey to experience. you are not alone with the financial problems. talk to your accountant and/or bankruptcy lawyer. they will help you relax alot. no one is going to single you out and rough you up. we are all in this together. i have learned that thinking about the past makes you depressed and thinking about the future makes you anxious. keeping in the present will keep you calm and centered. i listen to the co-creator radio station. there are alot of different shows, all of which are designed to keep your mind off of your problems and allow you to relax and enjoy life. take a walk in the woods. go to the river. deep breath. listen to relaxing music. walk your dog. entertain grandkids. you do not have to be the family savior. i give you permission :)
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My parents also made bad financial decisions, but dad would never accept any sort of help...too much foolish pride. After he died, we sold the house, paid off the liens and debts leaving mom with nothing but a measly social security check. We moved her to a small apartment that paid most of the utilities and I managed her little 950.00 a month...she paid her own way with only a little help. She was thrilled to be out of debt and amazed the apartment people would come fix things for free! Anyway, long story short...she had to go to a nursing home. I got her on Medicade and a veterans stipend ( dad was a veteran). My sister and I split the cost of a private room for her($600 total) and she's safe, fed, warm, cared for...so being broke wasn't so bad after all. I'm almost happy she had nothing!
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I believe the lesson for all of us that comes from watching others is to develop and execute our own planning so we feel comfortable with as many answers for our own futures. And tigualil is right...take a deep breath...
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Well, I want to put the reverse twist on this! First of all, once you get a handle on everything, you should be able to apply for Medicaid, and still keep the house and one vehicle plus no more than $2000/mo available to show in a checking account. It is faster to get approved for Medicaid when there ARE less resources. The twist, is that, as POA and executor for my parents trust, they had a couple hundred thousand invested, and IRAs and life insurance, a house pd for, 2 vehicle and an RV....so lots of assets. As you, I've had almost 2 years of pure HELL, anyhow....trying to get my Dad qualified, first for VA benefits (only to be told there was a years waiting list, even though he is 91 and placed in a dementia unit) and then, for Medicaid which would approve faster. We, though had to go through a 'spend down of assets'....put all resources into Mom's name only, open and close various checking accounts, so as to get Dad's name off accounts, close out the trust at a point...and just set up POA accounts in Mom's name alone....and monthly, submit all kinds of documentation to Medicaid to show the spend down amounts and document all that they wanted....and NOW, after 10 months of going through this, we just heard that Dad was accepted for Medicaid. SO....the stress and work is all there, whether there is little or a lot, apparently. But the approvals for assistance will come faster if there are less resources. You may need an eldercare attorney to help you see what you can apply for in your own state and how it all works. I hope this helps somehow.
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You parents sound like they lived for today, not planned for tomorrow and now tomorrow has arrived. Lets not judge it, you certainly cannot fix it.
You owe them time, emotional support and what you want to provide without risking your own financial security. They will likely be eligible for Medicaid, if needed.

Do not stress about funeral expenses, when the time comes look into cremation and disposition of remains through your county medical examiner office.

Sounds like you learned from them and will likely do a better job of planning for your later years.

Best of luck!
L
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