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My step-mom and my dad live across the country. We never had a close relationship even when they were on the east coast. Briefly, they are very self centered people who have never voluntarily made a generous decision regarding me or my sister. Dad is verbally abusive to everyone and always has been. Now it is just magnified. My step-mom is dad’s full time care giver except for a VA nurse that comes 4 hours a day and other nonprofessional people that come a few times a week to do chores. She has Parkinson’s and a pacemaker. However, now that my father is 92 and has dementia my step-mother is demanding that I promise to not put dad in a nursing home should she die first. They rent a loft space in Downtown LA and pay for it out of their social security benefits, I think. I visit 1x per year due to cost and time. Over the years I have tried to reasonably discuss care plans that would work for them both. My step-mom adamantly refuses to move into a VA subsidized residence that could help my dad with a transition if she passed away first. So since I have no control over what happens to them and no idea what their finances are I am unable to make any other recommendations. There is no way I am moving to LA to take care of Dad. What should I say to my step mother who is demanding I promise that he stay at home.

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I understand your concern about the love of your life, my father. None of us knows what the future will hold and I can't make a promise that might not be in father's best interest. I promise you that I will be his strong advocate for loving care in the best environment for him should you leave this earth before he does.
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"Oh, I can't possibly do that. We can't predict what he might need in the future."

I didn't promise my husband that I would never place him in a care center. What I did promise him, several times when he was at his most lucid during his 10-year journey, was that, "I will never abandon you. I will always see that you have the care you need. If you need the kind of care that can only be given in a facility of some kind, I will visit you often and I will always be your advocate." Once late in his disease we drove by a building under construction and I pointed out that it was a health care center. He said, "But I'm never going to a place like that." I replied that he had the best doctor in the state, that there are lots of kind of help I could hire. There is equipment like lifts we could rent. So I will definitely keep you at home as long as I possibly can. But we don't know the future."

I think what your step-mom is asking is unrealistic. Just say NO.
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All great answers.. Today I was talking to a younger friend whos 76 year old mom is taking care of her 90+ father, and it is killing her. My own mom today was taken aback when I reminded her I will be 60 in a few months! FF has mentioned this before.. they forget we are no longer those perky kids we used to be!
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Hillarious, your Step-Mom has placed you into a really tough spot asking that you promise never to put Dad into a nursing home. This request comes more out of emotion than out of common sense, and that is understandable.

I liked that Guestshop had written above. I would use those words when speaking to Step-Mom about this question.
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Memorize and repeat: "Sorry, I can't do that."
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Or, on the flip side of being honest, ---tell her sure, you'll honor that request and then do what suits you and your father best if she passes away. It'll shut her up and you can deal with it if the time ever comes.
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The best I can offer is what I told my own parents and now Ray.

I can't promise that because I am not God and I don't know the future. However, I feel fairly certain that if the time comes and I must use a NH, you won't be aware of it.

That satisfied all 3 of them. I hope it helps.
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Tell step mom whatever works then do what you have to do.  Just curious however, if you have no info on financials etc for these folks, who does? Step mom have kids involved?
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Promise her whatever she wants to hear. When she is gone, what does it matter what you said or not? If dad has dementia, he won't know what is going on. Just yes her to death and move along!
As for financials - have they set up any DPOA/MPOA? If not, why not? I would tell her sure, I'll not put dad in a home, but I will need access to financial and medical information after you are gone. Have you set anything up, step-mom? I would bet not, but it would be best to ask. Doing everything AFTER the fact is painful and time-consuming. Our mother is still alive and although switching her billing address and banking information to me was easy enough while she was still living in her place, the rest of the changes needed are still on-going and it has been TWO YEARS! Anything federal (SS/Medicare, VA benefits, IRS, and in mom's case a federal pension DO NOT CARE what kind of POA you have. You MUST use their forms and process to get this done!)
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“If you want me to handle your affairs when the time comes, we need to make plans so that I can do things legally that are in both of your best interest no matter what happens or who ‘goes first’. If you want me to make decisions based on what is best for you and for my dad, I need POA, my name needs to be on your financial papers. Do you both have wills?” You know, questions like that. Before you promise to do, or not to do something, you need the power to be able to do or not to do it. Mom needs to understand that without POA, your can promise yourself blue in the face but without any legal authority, what you say won’t hold any power.
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