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Can you advise an Aging Parent? I'm 76 and rather frail. My husband is very active and does most of the chores around the house. I would not be able to live independently if he dies before me. We are not wealthy enough to live in a community that supplies assisted living and nursing care. What can I do to assure that my children won't be forced to care for me.

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Hello,

I think it is great that you are looking toward your future. I can offer a couple of suggestions for you in terms of not burdenning your kids.

1. Contact your community's council for aging and arrange to speak with a social worker. Explain your fears, expectations and ask for options and what the community can help you with.
2. Connect with your church/temple or non-denominational worship group. Maybe they have programs.
3. Nursing homes are scary, but some are wonderful. My grandparents were in one in Boston and they were well taken care of. My grandmother had her pain managed, was encouraged to enjoy many of the activities that they offered and was treated with respect. Likewise, her husband, had his needs met. They were kept together until he needed continual supervision because of wandering. Even then, my grandmother could visit him any time she wanted.
4. Don't be afraid to share with your children what you have researched on your own. I think it is important to let them know your feelings and wishes. Put them in writing.
5. As I tell my husband, (we are very involved with his parents) we do things out of love. We visit them, and shop for their personal care items. (they are in a nursing home now). I also need to step back from time to time and let him know that his parents do not want to be a burden on us. It is the love that we have for them, that makes them not a burden.

Good luck and keep us posted.
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You may be surprised that nursing homes have improved from the time when you were caring for your mother. Nursing homes that are run by the state or get assistance have to follow the rules.

My dad's main problem in the nursing home is that he is on so many medications and insulin. If you do not take a LOT of pills then caring for yourself or having someone help care for you is much less complicated. He is a Resident in a nursing home instead of a patient so he goes to meals by himself. His roommate helps keep him going to places on time.

Assisted Living may be for you rather than a nursing home. You may never need a nursing home but rather a small apartment with some assistance. Your health is likely to be much better than your mother's was so hopefully you will have more choices.
My mother is 76 and just had breast cancer surgery - mastectomy. They released her from the hospital after 2 days to her own one-level home. She is doing well on her own and always has.
We picked up some groceries for her and I was there to help her with her bandage the first few times but other than that she is independent and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Although she can and does drive I usually take her to her doctor appts. She has the same concerns you do and constantly talks about going into assisted living apartments.

My dad would be in Assisted Living rather than a nursing home if he were not on so many pills and nearly blind.
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Hi rliddle953. I had a very strong emotional reaction when I first read your post. I am taking care of my 85 yo father now and he lives with me and I have a live-in assistant. As I further read your comments, I realized how practical and fair you are. You also understand the burden.

Unfortunately, you and your husband did not make enough money in your lifetimes to setup the care that you WILL eventually need. If your children are doing well financially, now is the time to talk to them frankly.

I know they will not abandon you or let you live alone if you are not able to manage. They WILL take on the burden. Before you become too frail to help them work out arrangements, now is the time to start. Since you are able to post on this website yourself, you are still very much lucid and capable. You can prepare!

- I am talking about discussing things like whether you can move into a "granny" cabin with one of the children. Or whether they can start plans to modify a part of their homes to accommodate you.

- It means discussing whether all together the family can purchase enough insurance or care to help you manage in your own home until you definitely need a nursing home or hospice care.

- It means accepting that although you and your husband gave it your best shot in life, you didn't make enough money. Plan to use up that nest egg. Plan to accept and use money from your children.

- It means giving a Power of Attorney to one of your children or person you want to manage things.

- It means discussing with that Power of Attorney representative how you want your assets to be spent down for your care. My own father did not discuss or prepare for this aspect, so now his second-wife is insistent on preserving the home, while I would rather the asset be spent down for his care and enjoyment while he is alive.

- It means starting modifications to your home now, so that when you are frail you won't have to. And would be too cognitively challenging for you. Maybe one way to engage your children or grandchildren is to have one of the more "handy" ones start coming on weekends to help you with these kind of modifications. It will certainly start the kids talking amongst themselves about what to do with you!

- Imagine yourself needing a walker or in a wheelchair and go around the house. You'll quickly get rid of those loose carpets. Start modifying the house now, so that you can be picky with contractors and budget conscious. Get into a wheelchair now and try things out -- nothing like trust but verify firsthand!

- Start to think about how you'll get groceries? Maybe you can engage a local grocer now, so that things are set up. Are there senior shuttles to help with this. Your husband likely soon shouldn't be driving.

- Are all your bills online? Start and give access to them to the person who will have your POA. While your husband can manage now, one day he and you won't be able to. I had to spend a considerable amount of energy doing this when my dad already had dementia, and let me tell you it was very emotional/troubling when I found he had started to write checks to junk-charities.

- Plan for what would happen if your husband became more frail or cognitively challenged before you. How would YOU take care of him? You can't right, so who will be able to help the two of you?

My mom passed away while I was in college and she prepared well, by preparing me. She insisted that I as a "man" still needed to be able to wash clothes, cook, and buy groceries. Both she and my father worked hard, and although they did not make enough to get the "Cadillac" plan - they did give me the skills to manage, our wheelbarrow still gets us from point A to point B!

I hope these ideas help, engage in the day -- preparation can be fun and empowering!
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Thank you for your replies. If you said "I don't want to inconvenience my children. That is right. I cared for my Mother for 22 years with only occasional visits from my siblings. It wasn't too hard until she was 85 and then from there until she died at 89 she was in a nursing home and I took care of finances and also her clothes and tax problems and cleaning out and selling her house. Along with 5 children, a husband and a necessary full time job it was very hard. The problems I dealt with in the nursing home were many. Everytime I visited (at least once or twice a week), I left crying my eyes out. There is no such thing as a nice nursing home. She was in the best and went through most of her money. I didn't begrudge her using her money but surprisingly the ones bothered by it were her children who weren't available to her during that time. I don't have enough money to buy long term insurance. We had it for awhile but it would cost at least $4,000 a year and that is money we need to live on. I'm concerned now because the cost of living has gone up so much. Food alone is twice what we remember from our earlier years. So now we aren't able to save and even have to use some of our nest egg to live. Some of the spouses my children married are worrisome. And even my children are not exactly reassuring. I think many older mother's hide from the truth. When adult children are experiencing the busiest time of their life, Mom becomes a burden.
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rliddle953, I think you are wonderful to care enough about your children to try to plan for something.
There are 6 of us kids and I have ended up with most or the responsiblities for my elderly parents because I am the one without children of my own (even though my other siblings children are grown)
My brothers and sisters were always close to my parents, much more so than I was and now I am the one dealing with everything. It seems like they just can't handle mom & dad being dependent and not like they used to be so they just AVOID.

I am shocked and disturbed at how lame my brothers and sisters are and now I hardly speak to them anymore.

You may want to bring it up with your children now so that they can know and maybe help with ideas or what they themselves have been thinking or worrying about.
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One thing that helps is having long term insurance which can be used for home care and if it is possible to sell your own home and add on to your children's home and make a safe space for you that works sometime and if it is needed the fact is you would need to be placed and I know most of us do not want to hear of it but it may be what has to be done or for you to pay for 24/7 care for you or some combination and when your money is spent down you go on medicaide unfortunaitly it is what it is would you want your kids to be burndened like the people on this site running them into the ground this is something that has to be talked about rather than hoping it never comes to that our parents never talked about in the past but times have changed and it needs to be brougt up yesterday.
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I understand that when you say "forced" you may not mean that your children wouldn't want to take care of you, but that you don't want them to have to take care of you. I feel the same way. Even though my daughter says she wants to take care of me when I am unable I would not be comfortable with that situation. It is good that you know what you want. What you need to do is search the web for alturnatives before it is too late.
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I wonder why you are using the word "forced?" Are you sensing that this is not something that your children would be interested in doing. If so, I would make plans now so that you have options when and if the time comes....including assigning Powers of Attorney (both medical and financial) to someone you really trust and making your wishes known in writing.

I chose to assist my Mom, my sibling did not. It is different in every family. I guess if I could go back in time, I would wish that our parents talked to us about this at a much younger age...then everything would be out in the open. When an emergency happens people can revert to some rather odd and selfish behaviors and it usually leaves one person doing everything.

Good luck.
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