Thursday, April 11, 2013

Money, Lies and Siblings—my elderly parent cannot afford a Senior Facility

By Bob Gregory

Sounds a little bit like the title of a novel but these are all components of the life of an elderly parent who can no longer care for their own finances.  I really prefer to write about positive, joyous moments of elders and life in Senior Facilities, but we all know that life and people have a dark side.  Not everyone plans ahead so their children have little to do except visit and be respectful.  In fact, many elders find themselves in need of financial support from their children or the Government.  For all those who have planned well, have long term care insurance, a solid estate plan and a generous retirement fund, I applaud you!  Chances are you are not reading this blog and your children are not suspicious of one another.  For everyone else, this is a tough time 
Money (Photo credit: Pikaluk)
to find Mom or Dad can’t handle their own finances, or worse, need the financial support of the children.

We all worry about money no matter what the age unless you happen to be in that covenanted 1% who is truly wealthy.  For everyone else, having the money to pay bills, maintain a home and enjoy life (just a little) is always at the forefront of our thoughts.  There is nothing tougher than having to sit with an elderly parent and explain that they do not have the financial resources to support themselves.  To explain that the hard work, life time of savings and sacrifice just wasn’t enough to carry them through life is a difficult and heart wrenching task.  If you and your siblings are smart, you will do some research and find out just what benefits your parent or parents qualify.  There are a number of programs including Veterans benefits, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and others that may help with the burden.  Then there’s always you and your siblings to pick up the balance.  Here’s where the lies start.

If you are fortunate enough to have siblings, then you have someone to share the burden.  This should be a simple task, just take the balance of what your parent(s) can’t afford and split it among the siblings.  This is usually where it gets very interesting and regardless of your political slant, you will certainly find that the sibling who can afford the most should pay the most!  You will also hear plenty of excuses, many of which may be valid, as why one or more cannot contribute to support Mom or Dad.  There may also be a cry for a plan to hide whatever assets your parent(s) may have in order to qualify for the Federal or State government to pick up the tab. I find that most children of an elderly parent(s) want what is best for them; however, funding that “happily ever after” may be a different story.  You have to be very careful in deciding who managers the funds as there can be three outcomes.  First, all children work together and support their 
Money Hand Holding Bankroll Girls February 08,...
Money Hand Holding Bankroll Girls February 08, 20117 (Photo credit: stevendepolo)
parent(s) and do what is right.  I hope this is true in most cases.  Second, the child who has the greatest amount of resources takes over the finances and soon finds they are paying most of the shortfall as their siblings dole out more excuses than money.  Finally, the sibling under the most financial strain takes control of the finances and helps their own financial situation at the cost of their siblings who believe they are supporting their parent(s). Beware of the sibling who offers to move Mom/Dad into their own home and provide care in exchange for the retirement payments!  It’s rare that someone can care for an elder parent who truly belongs in a Nursing Home or Skilled Nursing Facility. 

Now that I told you what can happen, what do you do?  First, plan ahead.  If you know your parent is going to need a Senior Facility, then begin creating the financial plan to see to it the bills are paid and your parent is in good care.  There are legal ways to transfer assets in advance so that your parent can receive Federal and State benefits so be sure to consult an attorney.  There is usually a “look back” period for transfers and asset disposals so you will have to plan well in advance.  Help your parent budget their money before the need for a Senior Facility so they will need less support.  This can be difficult, but most elders are very concerned  
Calculating Savings
Calculating Savings (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)
about running short on retirement funds and will generally follow sound advice.  If you are beyond the planning stage, it’s time to sit down with your siblings and have a very candid discussion on supporting your parent.  Do not over commit and do not allow a sibling to over commit.  If you are honest with one another, you will find less strife between siblings and no one gets disappointed.  You may need to shop around for a facility that meets your financial requirement so as to minimize the amount of support you and your siblings will need to contribute.  This is a very delicate situation and make sure all siblings agree as you may find yourself sacrificing care for affordability!  If you can afford more than your siblings, then step up and opt for better care.  I would suggest a monthly deposit into your parent’s account and be sure and share the bank statements and how the money is spent.  It will make everyone fill more comfortable.  Be very careful about paying for items out of your own pocket and then reimbursing yourself.  It may be more convenient sometimes, but it can create mistrust no matter how justified the expenditures.  Also, offer to take turns managing the money at designated times (six months or a year).  This will also keep everyone honest and share the strain of “balancing the budget”.  There are professionals who will manage the finances for you but they charge a fee.  Finally, be mindful of the spouses.  It’s your parent, not theirs, so be sure they are included in the plan so it doesn’t create trouble at home.

If would like a list Independent Living Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes or any other type of Senior Facility, I hope you will consider
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We look forward to reading yours.

Bob Gregory is an advocate for Seniors and is one of the founders of At, we are dedicated to helping families get the Elder Care help they need without having to provide their personal information! If find you need an assisted living facility or other type of senior facility, please consider

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