So, my wife’s mother is 64 and her father is 66. We know they will not be able to work in the next ten years. They have no pensions, or retirement saved what so ever, and have no long term plan to take care of themselves. Her father has worked numerous hard labor jobs and has taken very poor care of himself. Her mother has never worked other than some part time jobs here and there. She doesn’t believe she suffers from mental illness, though her sisters and children have requested she see a doctor multiple times regarding it. Almost all of their children have been diagnosed with complex PTSD due to some act of negligence, abuse, or combination of the two on their mother’s part. One of the brothers had a mental breakdown a few years back and had to be hospitalized. Most of the children don’t want anything to do with the parents and/or can’t afford to pay for the future health care of the parents. What are our options?

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Crim, my gosh your wife's parents are still very young but it sounds like they had a very hard life. When incomes make it hard to make ends meet, it is almost impossible to save for retirement. And with jobs here and there, pensions tend to have been given out to those who worked in large companies and union jobs for many years.

What your wife's parents can do is call the County agency on aging to see what is available. Depending on where they live, meaning in a city or suburb area, there is Meals On Wheels that they could sign up for. Thus giving them each one good meal per day. In a rural setting, might be more difficult to obtain.

Once your wife's parents become very dependent on others for their daily care, such as walking, bathing, cooking, cleaning, then there could be a chance that the parents would be ready for Medicaid [which is different from Medicare]. It's only if the nursing home deem that one or both are ready for skilled care.

Also with Medicaid, depending on the programs that the State offers [each State is different], an Aide could come over for a few hours each week to help with certain tasks.
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oh my a mental health professional, it appears you may also may benefit from counseling. You state the parents will not be able to one in the family wants to care for them...they do not have this or they do not have that and on and on you go. Perhaps you do not and never cared about your wife's parents and this must be unspoken pain on her part. A suggestion would be not to concentrate what the other siblings may or may not do for their parents-this will be their cross to bear. Lets focus on the job at hand and be grateful you are in a decision making chair for the lives of others who may need to count on you for mistakes they may not be able to undo. We are not perfect nor guaranteed a life without thorns. Either you work out a plan for them or you do not. Take the high road knowing you wlil be aged and feeble if lucky with a welcome mat laid out for you when that time comes.
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Dacrowz- I gave up my life, or put it on hold or however you want to say it, to care for my parents. My Dad passed over a year ago, am blessed to still have Mom. My life is nothing I had planned or work towards.
It truly is a hard thing, there are times I feel like I am not strong enough. But I draw strength from God, and make it through each day.
This is not a light decision you are trying to make, and you will have to live with the choice that you make either way. You seem like a very loving and caring person. You must do what your heart thinks is the right thing.
Only you can truly decide what the right thing is for you to do.
I can tell you that even on my most difficult day, I do not regret it one bit. I am blessed to have this opportunity to give back what I was given. Pray about it.
May God bless you in this difficult decision.
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You must have had a difficult life. So sorry you are going through this. I have cared for my husband for 8 years and now Dad has been with me for 4. It is a very hard journey. If they have a very low income, that may provide them with more services than you think. I agree with freqflyer-contact the agency on aging and find out what options there are. Also, contact state social services. They may qualify for food stamps and other assistance. When my Mom went into a nursing home, she qualified for Medicaid. She was able to get dentures and hearing aides and glasses that she couldn’t afford before that. And, her nursing home care was paid fot- relieving us of exactly the anxiety you are going through now. You don’t say if Dad is still working ( or if Mom currently is working part time) so depending on their current financial situation, they might qualify for some benefits now. Good luck. You may even want to contact an elder attorney for guidance. Good luck
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Medicaid will pay their nursing home care. If they have assets, such as a house, it's a good idea to change ownership as I believe they have like a 5 year back rule as far as re-titling assets. Often times people feel being related forces your hand to become a caregiver. Everyone isn't cut out for such a challenging position. Best of Luck.
Helpful Answer (19)

At 66 your FIL should soon be eligible for Social Security benefits (retirement or SSI). In my home state of Tennessee, there are a number of programs that assist the elderly financially. If they don't own a home and SS is the only income source, they may well qualify for public housing (where there's no lawn care responsibilities) or rent assistance. Additionally there is income based assistance with utility bills, internet access, Medicaid, prescription medicines, and food (Meals on Wheels and SNAP). Most senior citizen centers offer VAN service to/from the center and many offer a Meals on Wheels meal at the Center too.

In addition to helping them get all the financial assistance that's available and appropriate, I would recommend:
(1) Strongly encouraging them to get involved with the senior citizen center and/or their church. People who have a social life are generally happier and healthier. Many senior citizen centers offer exercise programs for people who arthritis and can serve as a conduit to other programs/opportunities.
(2) Look around your in-laws home and determine what things you and and your wife could do to make the space more accommodating. My family has worked the construction trades for generations and I understand that often a man who has worked hard labor jobs for decades usually has some serious aches and pains by age 60. Devices that make opening jars easily, large handle can openers, a good stepping stool, grab bars in the bathroom, an ADA toilet, a set of non-stick pots and pans, a dishwasher, a comfortable recliner or chair with arms, new light fixtures, etc are relatively inexpensive but can improve life quality and extend the time people remain independent. After my mother's replacement the therapist told us all sitting surfaces should be at least 18 inches high, so my family installed new toilets, put new feet on couches, added lift cups under a bed, and purchased a couple of padded armchairs (like you often see in waiting rooms). Looking back I wish we had done those things a few years prior to the surgery.

Older people are often resistant to change so you and your wife may need to compromise or make extra promises for some changes. I got my parents a new ceiling fan for an anniversary present and promised to take it down and put the old light back up if they would just try out the ceiling fan for a month. After it was installed they loved it and didn't resist at all when they got a second ceiling fan a couple of months later for Christmas.
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Both of your parents are old enough for Social Security - and in their situation, I would recommend taking it NOW. (You don't say if they have taken it yet or not.) The father who is 66 should already be on Medicare, and the mother who is 64 can sign up as soon she turns 65.

As others have suggested, get them signed up for every possible assistance program for which they might qualify. Is their income so low with few assets that they might qualify for Medicaid?

I'm guessing that their health might not be very good if they say they are unable to work. I know so many people in their mid 60s through 70s who are STILL employed full-time where they have access to health insurance and a 401K plan.

Are either of your parents capable of working part-time? Unless they are quadriplegics, surely at least one of them should be able to hold some type of employment to supplement their Social Security.
Helpful Answer (7)

First, its admirable of you to even be thinking about it. But, it's not your problem -- its your in-laws problem and their "plan" shouldn't be "having the kids take care of us".

The best thing you can do now while they are younger is to ensure they have paperwork in order and I mean all of it: DPOA - naming someone to have financial and/or medical autonomy to make decisions when they are no longer able; Advanced Medical Directive, Will, etc. (even if they don't have anything of real value; they still need a will if they own property (car, house, bank accounts).

Next, start having conversations with them about what their plan is, what they wish -- do they want help in the home, residential care, together? or are they willing to place one or the other if needed, etc. The conversations will at least start them thinking.

No money. There are residential care such as senior apartments that are subsidized for those elders with no money; there is medicare facilities (nursing homes, some memory care beds (though not many and you may be on waiting list), home health aides, visiting nurses (that can treat chronic and acute problems with doctors request) for elders who stay in home. There is meals on wheels, senior centers where they can go for free or reduced lunch and free activities -- buses will even pick up the seniors and disabled seniors and bring them to the center.

So as long as they can afford their living arrangement - there are some options to help them remain in their homes and manage. ONce they can't -- then there are options even without money. Admittedly not as "cushy" as those places where your parent has money to cover.

If they own home, they could sell it and move to a lower rent apt to make that money go further. Most healthcare will be medicare covered -- though a supplemental policy is recommended -- they should have that now at their age so a hospital visit doesn't bankrupt them.

Also consider reversed mortgage which can help.
Sale of home -- though consider that many assisted living, memory care that you see advertised or in your area may be $4k-8K/month -- and they ususally want to see financial records that can support 3 years before admission.

My mom and dad saved and lived in a home that had wildly appreciated over 40 yrs -- so she was finally moved to memory care (she has dementia and is 95 and could no longer manage herself or home) and was placed in a very nice facility at $8K/month.

I have a friend who picked up her mom's tab and she and sister each contributed $3K each monthly to keep her mom in a nice senior apartment -- but that went on for 2 years and alot of financial burden for my friend and her sister out of their pocket.

I have another friend doing same and splitting care costs among 4 siblings -- but that is alot of burden and money that my friend could be using toward his own long term care planning.

I honestly don't know what I would do if my mom hadn't had the money. For along time I wasn't sure how much she really had. We did at least look at a subsidized senior living apt and it wasn't too bad really and guess that was where she would have gone if that were the case. There are staff visiting nurses, etc. that look in on the resident. But if they need alot of one on one care for bathing, toileting, cooking, cleaning, etc. -- then you will need 24/7 residential care facility -- which with no money -- is medicaid/medicare bed and sometimes depending on where you live the wait could be a year or more and you'll need to figure out something else in the meantime.

I don't recommend having parents living with the children -- you have no idea how much things change and you find yourself 24/7 caregiving -- sacrificing yourself, your kids, social life, vacations, etc. when a parent is disabled, chronically ill, incontinent, immobile -- getting someone to come in an help a parent can be $20/hour (4 hr min) -- adds up fast. Behaviors that annoy you now are often excerbated as they age -- so hurtful things said come out over and over; dementia means loss of reasoning -- are you both prepared for that?

I would never have taken my parents in my home. I love them -- but they were tough and as my moms dementia progresses -- the common elder dementia behaviors escalated -- accusations, stealing, hurtful comments, mean spiritness, stubborness, all got worse and worse. Now she's in memory care and I can visit at will; leave when she gets agitate and not worry because she is safe, fed, cared for and secure.
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The most important detail was left out of your post. Who has authority to make legal decisions(POA) for them? If you and your wife don’t, all you can do is offer advice. Even calling the County will be their call. This is will be Medicaid.
If they own a home, it’s doubtful they would put it in anyone else’s name (based on the family history you shared).
The person in mental field who said you’d benefit from counseling is probably correct but I did not detect any of the crap she was describing in your question. Jmo
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About 5 years, when my mother was unable to live on her own, we took her in. At that time I had no clue what was available for seniors. I contacted our county agency for aging and they put me in touch with the local senior center. This place was a Godsend. Thru Medicare/Medicaid, it offers Monday thru Friday transportation to and from the center, two meals per day, comprehensive healthcare (the clinic is on site), they provide all of her prescriptions, etc, etc. they even took care of a couple of hospitalizations. It is my understanding that every state has some type of system in place to care for seniors. Some better or worse depending on funding.
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Like many others families things we should have arranged for years ago suddenly happen and than the reality hits. How long will the money last paying for ALZ care, will I be able to continue to live in my home of 56 years? We had some POAs in place but now realize we need other forms etc. that we were not aware of. For example he had his SS check going to a smaller bank (which I am also co-owner) however I can not have his check sent to his main bank which I am also on. SS will not allow it without his personal permission. That can't happen, he does not even remember anyone.
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I am living a similar situation with my father, who is 85.

He does receive Social Security, but it is not enough to cover the cost of the nursing home he is currently staying I am covering the difference, despite a legacy of parental neglect. It’s a choice I struggle with, and I have my first appointment with a counselor this evening to help better manage the stress.

In contrast to your FIL, my father made very good money during his primary earning years, but he also made bad financial decision after bad financial decision, dismissing all suggestions that he reconsider out of hand. “It’s my life,” was his mantra. He filed for bankruptcy twice, failed to repay family loans, and never saved a dime, opting instead to “invest” in ill-conceived business ventures, without consideration to potential cash flow, profit and loss, etc. Including mortgaging his home in his 70s to “invest” in a business... fortunately, he was able to obtain a reverse mortgage to replace that initial mortgage, as he couldn’t cover the monthly payments.

His retirement plan? A bullet, as *he* was never going to be old and dependent on anyone. And *he* was never going to a nursing home.

Yet here we are...

I hope you and your wife can get some counseling and advice, on how best to prepare yourselves for the challenges you anticipate with your in-laws.

Wishing you well...
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10 years is a long time. If they don't need help now you could be wasting time getting details. Get a list of resources that help the elderly, that probably won't change, or not much but, qualifying, regulations, benefits etc. Can change dramatically depending on laws, funding etc. So I personally would not spend the time unless they are in need today. If mom doesn't work she could make phone calls and get the info.

Based on what you posted, DO NOT EVER let these people move into your home, it would be devastating to your family. Unless a person is willing to admit there is a problem, nothing can help them, they have no problem that needs help. Frustrating and heartbreaking but it does not create an obligation on their children.

Best of luck getting this all sorted out and finding the resources that can provide help when it is needed. I also don't recommend retitling their home so tax payers can pay more of their bills. You and your children are the tax payers, abuse like this leaves less money for the truly needy. Not saying you would, I just saw that another poster recommended doing it.
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Hard situation, indeed. And so much good advice given here. I just want to emphasize that there is nothing wrong (in fact, everything RIGHT) in your in-laws “laying the bed” that they made (aka REALITY) which may involve selling their house to pay for their own care and finally going on Medicaid. We came to that realization with my in-laws. They are wonderful people but didn’t plan for their old age, and then they both got dementia. I, thankfully, started helping them get their “affairs in order” before they were too far gone. Everyone else in the family was in denial. They were in Assisted Living while they could pay for it (sold their house and had no long term care insurance). Then I had to do all the work to get them on Medicaid. They are in the nursing home now and don’t like it (“we aren’t nursing home people”) but they are receiving good care and are safe. Sometimes we just have to let things take their natural course and it’s ok. Their life isn’t fancy but it is enough. And it is in their best interest. I don’t believe that you should have to try to protect their home from being an asset to pay for their care. That’s what it is for. Blessings to you as you embark on this difficult journey.
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Janir, liked that. We r not responsible for our parents wrong decisions.

I will assume you and wife are in your 40s. I think it's good that you are looking into the future. Hopefully SS will still be there when you need it. This is the time you need to be working to build up your contributions. I agree, if you feel in-laws could use some help, call your Office of Aging and ask for a booklet of their services. Call Medicaid and ask what services they offer. In my area, there is the Puerto Rican action committee who help everyone with food and other services. Red cross has some services. Hopefully MIL is on SS. She will at least get half of husbands who at 66 gets full SS. Social Services can help with foodstamps and Medicaid. Your county housing authority, HUDD, can help with housing vouchers. There are daycares that Medicaid can help pay for if low income. With Mom a bus picked her up and dropped her off. She was given breakfast and lunch. Also, a shower. Hope this all helps so when and if the time comes you have an idea what is out there. If they get food stamps there is a government thing that once a month distributes food, here it's distributed out of a church. Medicaid, if they ever need long term care you can file for Medicaid to help with the cost.

I applaud you for looking to the future. Some wait too long and it is overwhelming with everything else they have to deal with. But as said, with the history your wife has with her parents, don't take them in. It's hard enough caring for a loving parent but to take in one that there have been some kind of abuse, not good. You can't get away and it becomes a 24/7 job. It effects families drastically.
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To answer some of your question about details I missed we don't know who will be the POA for them though we pretty sure it won't be my wife. The father is still working though I am not sure whether or not he is already drawing from social security.

Thank you for some of your answers, I greatly appreciate your advice. Hopefully this will help if the unexpected does happen, or will help when they do get to that age that they can't work.
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You don't say if you're stateside or across the pond.

If in the USA, you call the medicaid office and find out who to call. This is why we pay taxes.

If you're across the pond, then you will need someone from your country to advise you.

You do not have to foot the bill! If we can support illegal aliens on Medicaid, your wife's parents should fit the bill having lived and worked here for years.
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Sorry about that we are stateside. Thank you for the advice
Helpful Answer (0)

As a mental health professional, I am curious to know what counseling you would recommend? Is this unspoken pain the night terrors and complex PTSD my wife suffers from as a result of her mother allowing her to be molested as a child? Or am missing something and there is some implied problem with my marriage?
I state a number of things like their jobs situations, savings, how their children view their parents, and possible health problems with the parents. So that people who provide useful answers know what the situation looks like and can provide useful information to someone who is trying to plan ahead for the parents that they don’t care about.
Helpful Answer (2)

Are your wife's parents still capable of making their own decisions? if so they are in no way your problem although they may become someone's problem in the future.
Now you have added your wife's trauma filled childhood it becomes clear that she probably does not want nor should be involved in their future care.
You have received all the necessary information about services available for the inlaws. If they choose to ignore help now or later there really is nothing you can do to make them unless you have POA and it sounds although this will not be given to your wife if to anyone. They sound like the people who count their change in the morning and decide what they want to spend it on rather than what needs to be paid. Many people take the position that someone else will pick up the tab or "they can't get blood out of a stone"
It is good that you are considering your inlaws future but in reality there are other siblings and and given the history they will continue the way they always have until some disaster overtakes one or both. You probably already know this but don't sign anything that will make you responsible for anything financial . Do not take either or both into your home because they will never leave and destroy your family.
Helpful Answer (3)

Try Medicaid... That will help if they can get qualified..
Also, don't know what state your in, or their laws.
But, in Texas they have a LadyBird .. You can get that house where Medicaid cant touch after they have passed on.. Get you a Elder who deals with Medicare & Medicaid is the best thing to do..
I found so much out with him and usually their first visit is free..
Prayers for all of you... Its a long journey but help is out there..
Helpful Answer (0)

#1 Your parents should start drawing on their social security now.
#2 Your mother's SS may be low since she worked part-time jobs.
#3 Meals on Wheels delivers one noontime meal Monday through Friday on a donation basis or small fee.
#5 Medicaid would be advisable since they weren't able to save for their old age for the reasons you stated.
#6 Dad should see a physician even now as his poor health needs to be addressed as you said he'd taken poor care of himself.
#7 Mom should see a psychiatrist who can give her an RX for anxiety. 
#8 They could start using free money-saving apps, i.e. Ibotta, Walmart Savings Catcher, Hip2Save, Groupon and Living Social IF THEY'RE TECH SAVVY.  Quite honestly, they're fairly easy to use.
Helpful Answer (2)

I was fortunate enough to be in the position to retire to care full time for Mom. Talk to their doctor about home healthcare. Google programs for seniors in their area. I was surprised how many options there were. Usually one child ends up shouldering the load. In my case, I'm glad it was me.
Helpful Answer (0)

Hi Crim2009,
I have been a beneficiary of the great advice on these boards for the past few years, navigating care for my two ill parents. I have not had a lot of time/energy to post and have not felt truly compelled until today, since mostly things get addressed well.
There are many excellent posts here covering the various resources available for those with limited planning and financial stability. I will echo that you and your wife are in no way responsible for these parents' situation and are admirable for even wanting to get them pointed towards ways they can try to help themselves.
I just want to applaud you for your quite skillfully worded original post, and for your response to the horrible post by the "mental health professional" that sounded like anything but professional or grounded in mental healthcare. Assuming that your wife and her family haven't already engaged mental health services for themselves is presumptuous and the whole tone that they/you should somehow be grateful to be able to care for these people at this stage is guilt-inducing and irresponsible. Abusers continuing to manipulate their children to feel responsible for them are good to stay as detached from as possible! (sounds like you already know this)  I wish the best for your wife, her siblings and all related family in their/your continued recovery.
Helpful Answer (4)


1. call social security office to discuss if either has any credits toward receiving social security benefits.
2. Since your father-in-law is 66 and has benefits, he should be able to collecting benefits now.

That would be a start money wise. If you or your wife are able to convince them allow both of you to be signers on their bank account for the sole purpose of helping with finances, you'll be able to control certain aspects. You may want to look into getting a financial POA on this one!

You want to make sure that none of the siblings will be able to get any of the monies in the account that the Social Security check will be automatically deposited. Be sure that it is auto deposit as checks are stolen by strangers AND FAMILY MEMEBERS!!

Talk them into opening an account specifically for this auto deposit. You can also request the there must be 2 signers on all transactions by check. There will be 2 signature lines on the checks and it will be states the 2 signatures are required on the check too.

Have this account flagged so that transactions MUST be reviewed and you or your wife must be notified. It is probably best that only your wife is a secondary signer as they are her parents.

The signature card will also specify that the 2 signatures MUST be one of the parents AND your wife. It cannot be your father-in-law and mother-in-law together,

Also have your wife designated as the beneficiary. That will allow the money to go straight to her when they are both deceased. The State, especially if Probate, cannot use the funds to pay an insurance policy.

Make sure that both of you are able to control the siblings from them and their money. Funny how they all come out of the wood work when there is money involved.

Make an appointment with Medicare department. They should have some medical benefits too as your father-in-law should have already been enrolled at least 3 months prior to his 65th birthday. Take him with you so that the Medicare person is able to explain the benefits and allow you to be there too so you know exactly what to expect.

Mom has 2 more years for Social Security benefits, but will have to enroll in Medicare soon.

Hope this helps you
Helpful Answer (0)

To Crim2009,

Good for you for sticking up for yourself and your wife in these answers!

Myself and others I see here come for info and support and sometimes get some but often included are comments from people who are presumptuous, arrogant and sanctimonious and in every other way possible believe themselves to be superior to others (often bc of THEIR religion and/or some initials attached to their name). I am angry with all around here who act as though they are justified--even godlike--in insulting, criticizing and pushing their own agendas, which usually involves putting others down to prop themselves up. I rarely visit here bc of that, yet I really wish I had an alternative place to go for information. The vitriol spit around here is disgusting, especially in addition to the self-righteous and religious nonsense.

Additionally, good for you for learning about things. In my opinion it is extra kind of you to do that. I'm in different circumstances so I'm not sure I have practical ideas for you, just offering my support.
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