We Shouldn’t Assume Mom and Dad Have Planned Appropriately
Have you considered how Mom and Dad prepared themselves for old-age? I know I didn’t. Oh, it was clear from the beginning that Mom didn’t have much of a cushion. My father had been out of our lives for a long time, so Mom’s care fell heavily on my shoulders. I didn’t plan for the outlay of cash needed to make her life comfortable.
Mom had a little over $30,000 in the bank when I put her in the nursing home. Back then, the charges were somewhere between $5,000-$6,000 per month. It didn’t take long before I needed to sign her up for state assistance. The state mandated how much she was able to keep from her social security check each month.
Living in Minnesota, that amount was about ninety dollars per month. What I hadn’t thought about before that time overwhelmed me in the years to come.
I don’t know anything about the Mom and Dad who are the senior generation in your family. My mom was a very classy woman. She was an interior decorator and always ‘dressed to the nines.’ Once Mom entered the nursing home, her body size began to increase overnight.
That wouldn’t have been such a problem, but we were spending over fifty dollars each month to have her hair fixed weekly. Many of the other women in the home had their hair cut like a man’s. I couldn’t do the ‘wash and go’ look with Mom. It would have humiliated her. Her feet began to swell, so now I had to find clothes and shoes to fit. It doesn’t stop there. If you want to bring them out once in a while, you need coats. In Minnesota, that was outer-garments for all seasons.
Did I mention the ninety dollars each month includes over-the-counter meds, toothpaste, deodorant, and other small things that make your parent happy and content?
Mom and Dad, We Love You
The thing is, you love Mom and Dad. They are the ones who bought you shoes and filled your belly when you were hungry. Are you really at a point where you can ignore their most basic needs?
I certainly couldn’t. As the years went on, there were more and more expenses.
Mom told me her biggest wish before she died was to spend one day with her son again. How do you respond to something like that? It took my son, my husband, and me to maneuver her through the Minneapolis airport in her wheelchair and the bathrooms, to the gate, and into the plane. The cost of the tickets? Of course, I granted her last wish.
Mom and Dad are Extremely Vulnerable
Mom found life in the nursing home boring, so I always gave her a supply of cards, postage stamps, and stationery. She was a prolific writer and so enjoyed her letters from Iowa and beyond. About the third year that she was in the nursing home, she began asking me for spending money more often. I always tried to make sure she had something for treats on their little excursions and lunches out.
When I questioned her about how she was going through the money so quickly, she said she had no idea. She told me about the recent trips and how much fun she had, but it didn’t explain how the money was disappearing so quickly. I asked the nurses to log her outgoing mail for me.
Each week, she was sending money to one of the television evangelists on their appeal at the end of the program. Eventually, I convinced her we needed to give the money to our local church and that I would make certain to do that for her. Again, a senior citizen loses their concept of the source of their money.
Protecting Seniors from Fraud
I ended up doing “Double Duty” as a caregiver. Mom’s sister needed care after her husband died and they had no children. My brother lived too far away to help, so I added her to my list of financial help.
Both sisters were susceptible to mailings, phone calls, unscrupulous staff members, and sharing personal information. You can find information on helping your older loved ones stay safe by visiting Caregiver Stress.
The bottom line is that for every dime, for every precious piece of jewelry that’s stolen, you’ll end up paying some price yourself to cover their care. I know. I’ve seen it all.
What Can We Do to Protect Ourselves
It starts with understanding what Mom and Dad have and need.
- What does their insurance cover?
- How much do they have in the bank and investments?
- Are they willing to sign a Power of Attorney?
- Do they have a living will before they are no longer capable of signing legal documents?
- What does the nursing home of choice charge?
- If the money runs out, what does your state allow in personal funds each month?
- Can you document minimal personal needs over a one-year period?
- Is the refrigerator stocked if they still live at home?
- What form of safe transportation will they use when you’re unable to take them to appointments?
The above list is just a small piece of the total picture. There are dozens of things you need to know before they’re too infirm to help you with the answers.
You Need to Start Now
Things are changing. We don’t have any idea where health insurance is heading. I would hope you’re like me and want to take care of Mom and Dad in a way that at least keeps them safe and comfortable.
I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on my Mom and my Aunt. I hadn’t planned on needing to do that, but I did it willingly and with as much love as they bestowed on me as a child.
It’s not a matter of providing extras. Protecting Mom and Dad requires us to fill the gaps. If you don’t know how big these deficiencies will become, then you need to turn off your computer and start working on getting the facts together. Your security is at stake here too! It’s up to you to fight for their rights and yours.