Originally Published: April 25, 2018 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: My husband and I are both in our mid-80s, and we are beginning to experience health issues. We have four children from his former marriage. We have been married for 48 years. I have always expected to go to a nursing home when my health declines to that point. My husband vehemently says he will never go to one. I do know that once your funds and ability to pay are exhausted, a nursing home takes all your remaining possessions, Social Security payments, etc. We have a fair amount of money, nearly $1 million, and I am wondering whether this should be discussed with any of the potential heirs in the event they would like to offer care in lieu of losing all that money to a nursing home.
It almost seems like a bribe, and I’m not comfortable talking about our finances with family. We have always been extremely independent. We have lived all over the country, so our ties are not like those of a lot of parents. Neither of us wants to live in any of their homes, but we think that perhaps a granny pad on one of their properties might work. We both feel that if someone is willing to do this, that person should receive a bigger piece of the pie when we die.
Of course, if one of us were to suffer a stroke or have some illness that requires more care, this arrangement probably wouldn’t work. Is there a right way to have this conversation or somewhere other than with an attorney to make end-of-life plans? We currently have a trust and a standard will. We live thousands of miles from these children but are contemplating moving to be closer and wondering whether a conversation should be had prior to our doing anything. — Planning Ahead
Dear Planning Ahead: Yes, have the conversation with your children before you move. It wouldn’t be bribery for you to offer more money to one of your adult children if he or she would like to take on caregiving duties. It would simply be fair. If it helps, think of it as rent. The AARP’s “Planning for Long-Term Care” guide is a great resource to help you ensure you’re covering all your bases. You can download it from the AARP’s website (https://tinyurl.com/yb8loo47) or order a copy by calling 888-OUR-AARP.
Dear Annie: I think you answered “Waiting for May’s” main concern well by supporting her decision to leave her emotionally abusive husband and elder son — but you missed an important point that all parents could learn from. She said, “I’ve repeatedly told my elder son he has slowly killed my love for him over the years.” Actually, it is her husband who has slowly killed the son’s ability to love himself and therefore others, including his own mother, over many years.
The son should be held to account for his hurtful words, and “Waiting for May” will be doing so when she leaves him and his dad. But she should not tell him she no longer loves him, let alone that he is the reason. As a parent, she must choose grown-up language. She could say: “I love you. I have always loved you and always will. But I choose to live among people who accept my love and give me the appreciation I deserve. I’ll always be here for you, if and when you choose to interact kindly with me.”
Not all mistakes parents make can be retracted, but this one can. The process starts when she starts to speak to her son as a loving parent who is holding him accountable. — 71-Year-Old Mom
Dear Mom: Fantastic advice. Thank you for writing.
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