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When the elderly have no children


klmama
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Posted (edited)

I was just thinking about how I know a number of young adults who are choosing either to have no children or only one, and I wondered how that will play out when they are elderly.  Who takes care of the elderly if they have no family?  I realize that there are always ways to pay someone to provide care, but I'm wondering how it turns out for real people who try it.  

Edited by klmama
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In my family, the maiden aunt - the term of the day - moved in with her widowed sister. They supported each other until the aunt died. Medicine was less advanced at the time and she died fairly quickly. 

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There are many elderly in my country (South Africa) who's children have emigrated, so they don't have their day to day help.  They rely on their friends and the community and then go into assisted living facilities.

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One of my mom's good friends only had one son, and he was not a good person.

My mom was her medical proxy and things like that.  

She lived independently until having a health crisis, and my mom was the person who was called.  

I think I have seen that a lot of people, once they are in their 60s or 70s, start being friends with people who are 10-20 years older and younger than they are, and then as friends they take on some roles with their friends who need to go to assisted living.  Once someone is in assisted living, if they need to move up a level of care, I think the assisted living people take care of a lot of it.  

How it works out for people who do not have a pension or something, I don't know.  I think the age group right now of elderly people is pretty likely to have a pension or something compared to the next younger group.  

But really -- basically what I have seen is elderly people who have a solid friend and support network, and the age ranges are pretty wide, and the health of different people really varies, so there is a friend/support network that includes some people who are younger or healthier who are able to help their friends out and/or asked to take on some roles and/or become a bit of a go-to person to bring up x, y, z if there starts to be concern.  

I think too -- maybe there has to be some more personal responsibility when people don't have an attitude "I will leave it to my kids."  And/or I think maybe there is just a change in how people are as they see a longer old age and choices that go with medical procedures and things like that.  

I don't really know.  

I do have a sister in her 50s without kids, and her friend/support network is good, but it is not family members.  I think for her there are pros and cons.  But she definitely has got major, long-term friendships with people I think she will be involved with on this level as they get older.  Where for me -- I don't have a friend/support network like that, my energy and time have been focused on my family more than on long-term friendships.  I think there are pros and cons for me, too.  

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I have also seen at church -- the kind of thing where so-and-so forgets this and then forgets that, and it gets mentioned amongst people, and then someone (aka "the go-to person") talks to them, sets up a doctors appointment and makes sure the person gets there, etc.  

Some of these people have adult kids but they live far away, they are not going to know if their parents are starting to forget to show up at church or something.  If they have kids -- I think the kids get a phone call.  I think if they don't have kids -- okay, so what are the kids going to do, set up a doctors appointment?  Ask someone from church or the local network to pick the parent up to go to the doctor?  

I have not seen adult kids seem to be able to drop everything and show for this, if they are not local.  I have seen them making phone calls, lots of phone calls, and arranging things by phone.  

And then, yes, coming for visits and helping.  

But then if they move their parent near them, but they are still busy and working, the parent loses his/her support network, which -- it depends, but can actually be pretty good, with people who would visit often, or pick them up to go play cards or whatever, or who would visit them at assisted living.  

I think a lot of people (who are the younger or healthier elderly people) will go to see people at assisted living and will know 5 or 10 people there and say hi to all of them or sit in a sitting area and chat with all of them.  

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My mom and stepdad have, combined, 5 kids, and I still don’t know what’s going to happen to them. After years of trying to get my mom to talk about these things, the closest I’ve gotten is her recently telling me that they have their financial plan set up to be adequate.  That says NOTHING about actual help!

His kids live far away. I live far away. They’re near(Ish) both of my sisters who are single parents (one of a tween, one of two littles) and work. My mom is currently managing my stepdad’s intense cancer treatment herself. At 69 and 71 (or 72?), they show no real interest in discussing these things with us.  It constantly weighs on my mind.

Anyway, I guess that’s my way of saying having kids doesn’t guarantee anything, lol.

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Usually if no one in the community notices they are in decline at some point they fall and need to go to the hospital. They end up in a nursing home.

It’s the same for narcissists whose behavior has driven off their own children, though those residents tend to be super nice to the staff for the first few years until something cracks and they show who they really are.

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Nursing home and a social worker is an advocate if they are incapacitated and have no one as next of kin. I see this a lot. Some are elders who had a couple of children, but their children proceeded them in death. Others due to abusive parenting are entirely estranged from their kids, and occasionally they are the ones who chose estrangement due to drug use or similar issue in their adult child. Beyond that, since this area has no decent employment with any hope of upward mobility, upon high school graduation, the young adults leave in droves and never come back. Many members of the Boomer generation locally have refused to leave in their golden years and live near their adult children. They may have kids, but when it comes to requiring care, they are on their own, especially due to this demand to age in place instead of be flexible.

Actually, apart from a few families, I have not seen where having children makes it better for the elder. My generation has to work until 67 to draw full social security, and we have not had the buying and investing power that my parents' generation had. We are sandwiched, crushed by elder care while also still raising kids, and trying to work and keep our heads above water, afraid to be uninsured with too much income to qualify for Medicaid. It is even worse for Millenials who face a business climate totally opposed to fair wages and benefits, ungodly college and trade school tuition, inflation outpacing wage increases by huge margins, etc. and many of the sandwich generation weren't able to save enough to pay for their own elder care. I don't know how these young folks are going to manage, but many of them will tell you the whole thought of trying to figure out how to survive and care for their parents is enough to make them determined NOT to have children because they simply cannot do both and work full time. Add to that the fact that they have to work to 70 to get their full social security pay out - some of them assume it will be insolvent by that time and though they paid in all that money, they will never see a dime of it - how are they supposed to manage it all? They won't. Their parents will die in their homes or go to nursing homes rarely having a visitor. It isn't pretty, but we have a system that has oppressive my increased demands on the younger generations instead of fixing the problems, and this is the outcome.

In the case of my niece and nephew who decided not to have children, they have nieces and nephews of their own whom they are very, very close to and love dearly so one of them will be appointed to decision making. Care taking will be paid for because they both have good income and have been saving and investing in 401Ks and IRAs with their employers since they left college. They both just turned 40 and have a million now.and at that number, they are beginning to see rapid growth. They plan to work to 62, and then buy private insurance until they are eligible for Medicare. They won't need social security. However, this kind of planning is largely the privilege only of higher wage earners. Our essential workers, as we have seen through this pandemic as their stories are told, are grossly underpaid for being essential to our lives and the economy, and cannot save money due to living pay check to pay check.

As for churches, the most I have seen is an occasional church with a chaplain who makes home and facility visits, and sometimes gets a few people involved in sending cards or Christmas Caroling at the nursing home. No involvement in care giving or decision making. I would imagine it is beyond the scope of what most churches would be capable of providing.

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My mom is gone, my in-laws just passed, so I just have my dad left as far as caring for an elderly person.  I moved him 10 minutes from me and, while it is a lot of work, I'm glad he is close and I take him to all his doctors appts, handle his finances, etc.

My sister is not married and won't have anyone to care for her.  She doesn't even have close friends.  She doesn't live near me so I'm not sure what she is going to do.

My SIL is unmarried and lives close, but is burning all her bridges with us by the second.  So...not sure what her plans will be.  It will not be us.  She has a lot of friends that she talks about all the time so hopefully they will help her.  My BIL and his wife live close also and maybe they will help her.  She is burning her bridges with them though also.

I have to say that after all the caregiving I have done and will continue to do for my dad, helping my in-laws over the years, a lot during the past year, and then it being pretty much a full time job the past few months (and now helping DH with his Executor responsibilities, clearing out their house of 50+ years and getting that sold), I pretty much have nothing left for anyone but me, my dad, DH, and my 2 boys as far as caregiving goes.  At some point, I will need to take care of me so I am less of a burden to my kids down the road.

If I weren't close and able to take care of my dad, he would be in a world of hurt.  Especially with his short term memory issues.  We go to doctors and he pretty much has nothing to tell them.  I have the whole history now since he really can't advocate for himself anymore.   

 

 

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I had a childless great aunt who lived to 100 lived independently until her mid to late 80s. Then it became obvious she wasn’t doing well. 
 
 

My dad, who was the only child of her only sister, had power of attorney and what not, and he moved her into an assisted living facility closer to him pretty much against her will. It worked because it was obvious she could not live by herself. He sold her home and car. 
 

 

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I have an only child and no expectations that he will be my caregiver as I age. He lives with my mom right now, who is 84 and healthier than most. She could live alone except she doesn't drive. She pulled up carpet this spring and restained and painted stairs last winter. She wants to age in place as much as possible. 

As for me and SO (significant other), we will probably be working until we're in our 70s and would like to buy a house to age in. His children are not near us and I've told my ds repeatedly that he is not expected to do my elder care. He dearly loves my mother, so I expect he'll have more hand in her care than mine. 

My mom took care of my dad until he passed away. I feel like SO and I would do that for each other, he's older than me but healthier. I was teasing him the other day about being the annoying people in an assited living facility. I expect we will have systems and boundaries, systems to help us stay connected to services and boundaries for when it might be time to move to nursing home or assisted living. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Our local congregation has several elderly members who either don't have children or who have children that live far away.  We (members of the congregation) all help out as we can, so it hasn't been a problem for any of them yet. The ones that have far away children (not continents away, just many, many miles) will come help in desperate times (like we can't help with medical decisions in the hospital). One of the childless ones is always on top of what she needs, what she wants, and what she wants to happen later.  She does have nieces and sisters (elderly too) that offer her support as well.  It is hard when the elderly person needs more care/moved to a safer place but doesn't want to/etc - when you aren't family, you just can't. 

But that is a choice people make. When I was young, I thought I didn't want children either. I have two adult children now. People change their minds. 

Edited by Bambam
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My dad's aunt had no children.  When it became obvious that she could no longer live safely by herself, he invited her to come live with us.  Which she did.  She lived with us for about 3 years before she passed away.

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What I've seen most often with the elderly childless is that other family members--often a niece or cousin--steps in to help. I also have a family member who works for a home health agency. Her job entails visiting elderly and other home bound people and making sure they're receiving adequate care. I don't know the specific details, but she spends lots of time following up with doctors, setting up in home therapies and even contacting assisted living/nursing homes if the situation warrants.

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We have kids but when we did our wills we were encouraged to also assign a "personal representative" (I think that's the term) in case our kids preceded us in death or were otherwise unable to care for us. For a while we had a close friend, but recently changed to one of my nieces (now that she is a full-on adult). So, if my husband or I are left alone and need care, she would be the one to take over.  

I have a couple of cousins who never had kids, and they have a similar setup - a  niece or nephew ready to help. Many years ago a woman at our church took on care for her elderly great-aunt. She came to us for help with visiting and taking the aunt to doctor appointments and such. I was involved with that for a time; it seemed to work well with the great-niece being in charge but other people assisting with visiting, etc.

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Children cost a lot of money to raise, even if you really do the bare minimum. If you are careful, you can set aside quite a bit more for your own future if you don't have kids. Simply having the cash to pay for adequate elder care can make a big difference.

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1 hour ago, Faith-manor said:

As for churches, the most I have seen is an occasional church with a chaplain who makes home and facility visits, and sometimes gets a few people involved in sending cards or Christmas Caroling at the nursing home. No involvement in care giving or decision making. I would imagine it is beyond the scope of what most churches would be capable of providing.

I have never seen it as an official thing at church.  I have only seen it where the support network happens to be related to church.  

 

 

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I have an aunt in her 70s who has no children and lives alone. She doesn’t need care now, but that day is coming. She had lived for decades in a house on the same property as my dad, who is her younger brother. She tried very hard to be independent, but when she had had health problems, she’s gotten by with a combination of paid help and help from my parents. My dad will always help her, and if he dies I’m sure my mom will help her. But they are all similarly aged, and when it comes down to it I’m sure she’ll have to go into a nursing home because my siblings and I are hours away and my other cousins who she is close to are even further.

 My husband had an unmarried childless uncle. At some point we may be caring for ( or arranging care for) him because his other nieces and nephews don’t live in the area. But I’m sure that dh will feel it is his responsibility.

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I know of a woman (probably in her 60s?) in a small rural church who was widowed with no children.  The church completely "adopted" her, taking care of all of her expenses -- her home, food, etc.  The church felt that it was their scriptural duty to take care of her.

 

 

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I have a friend who did not have children, so he saved a substantial amount of money (from not having kids) and has that set up to hire help or move into assisted living as he ages. 

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My parents are currently taking care of an elderly uncle bc his kids all hate him- justifiably.  Its a thankless job for a mean, ungrateful person, but someone has to do it.  We have tried (and are trying) to get more help from government agencies, but its not as easy as it sounds when you are dealing with dementia.

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I am a caregiver for one of these. She is a relative, but I am not a descendant. My sister and I share the load, and she has always functioned as an extra grandma in our lives.

Relative has lots of friends in similar situations—nieces & nephews, friends, and neighbors all form a community around her friends and then once that’s not enough they go into assisted living or a nursing facility like many with children do.

They have all been fine, and not lonely. 
 

Childlessness has always been a thing—whether due to infertility or never marrying or whatever.

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10 minutes ago, BusyMom5 said:

My parents are currently taking care of an elderly uncle bc his kids all hate him- justifiably.  Its a thankless job for a mean, ungrateful person, but someone has to do it.  We have tried (and are trying) to get more help from government agencies, but its not as easy as it sounds when you are dealing with dementia.

Well, no one has to do it actually. Sometimes not doing it is a gift. Our stupid system is so messed up and backwards. Thus, helping can actually make it more difficult to get services. If there is no intervention so neighbors begin calling 911, it actually spurs intervention. My dad could not get any assistance for his brother who had a very progressive case of MS. When my uncle became abusive, my dad stepped back, and left him alone. He started calling 911 every time he fell, every time he was hungry and couldn't make food for himself, etc. His neighbors would call. Low and behold once police and medics had to deal with him regularly, social workers magically became involved and a bed in a care facility was found, Medicaid was procured. Nothing my dad did, and he was diligent and tenacious, came to anything. Bam, two weeks of 911 calls, and it wad all taken care of.

It is ridiculous! Stupid and disgusting! However, that is our system. No matter how bad the cobbling together of rudimentary care is, there will be no help so long as family or neighbors do it. Remove that, and suddenly there is care available.

 

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22 minutes ago, Faith-manor said:

Well, no one has to do it actually. Sometimes not doing it is a gift. Our stupid system is so messed up and backwards. Thus, helping can actually make it more difficult to get services. If there is no intervention so neighbors begin calling 911, it actually spurs intervention. My dad could not get any assistance for his brother who had a very progressive case of MS. When my uncle became abusive, my dad stepped back, and left him alone. He started calling 911 every time he fell, every time he was hungry and couldn't make food for himself, etc. His neighbors would call. Low and behold once police and medics had to deal with him regularly, social workers magically became involved and a bed in a care facility was found, Medicaid was procured. Nothing my dad did, and he was diligent and tenacious, came to anything. Bam, two weeks of 911 calls, and it wad all taken care of.

It is ridiculous! Stupid and disgusting! However, that is our system. No matter how bad the cobbling together of rudimentary care is, there will be no help so long as family or neighbors do it. Remove that, and suddenly there is care available.

 

I will pass this on!  Currently the police do all know what is going on- they took his license finally after several incidents and driving on the wrong side of the road!  911, Dept of Aging, etc. Have been called by neighbors.  I think Covid made response to things like this much slower.  It may also be that dementia is the worst disease ever bc he can sound sane one day,  and forget where he lives the next.  He even forgets who my parents are- and they check on him daily.  

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6 minutes ago, BusyMom5 said:

I will pass this on!  Currently the police do all know what is going on- they took his license finally after several incidents and driving on the wrong side of the road!  911, Dept of Aging, etc. Have been called by neighbors.  I think Covid made response to things like this much slower.  It may also be that dementia is the worst disease ever bc he can sound sane one day,  and forget where he lives the next.  He even forgets who my parents are- and they check on him daily.  

Please let the neighbors know they can blitz both the non emergency police number ad well as 911. Every time he appears to be wandering, call. Every time he falls, call. Every time he is not lucid, call and say they think he could be having a stroke. Eventually, they do get social workers involved. It is not police or EMS fault that they can't automatically do something. They have protocols. So they have to follow the regs and have X amount of incidents before setting intervention in motion. It is so important with dementia patients to get else on site during non lucid moments. They can ask for an officer to be sent to the scene, and the officer has the legal authority to let EMS take the person to the hospital against their will based on altered mental status hold. EMS is really well trained in handling this. I watched how they dealt with my dad and was just in awe. Altered mental status often results in  psych hold, and psych staff, particularly psych nurses, are much better at seeing dementia even in the early stages than the random once or twice a year Neuro or psych check in private practice. It just seems like even when those appointments are made a long ways out, family does not have the luck of that being a bad day for their loved one. It is maddening! So they go in lucid, seem to be put together, and bam...no diagnosis, no referral for services. So frustrating!

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I agree that the childless often have more money.

The government needs to do more because this is going to be a big problem down the road.

My mother obviously has me and my step-sister. But she also has her death group. They're a mutual support aging group that all live within walking distance of each other. They have gone through a step by step planning process to make sure they all have all paperwork, etc. in order and are all keepers of each other's basic info so that there's someone who can convey instructions in an emergency. They have worked hard to line up a good list of names of support businesses and so forth for things that they may need as they become unable to do things. They are all currently planning to age in place.

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I was visiting with a woman yesterday who will be 96 next month; she never married and never had children.   Until about 2 years ago she was still driving and taking care of many of her friends.  Now, she lives in an apartment in a retirement home where she can get meals, be driven to appointments, etc.  She was showing me the plants and cards that she got from four different women for "mother's day"--these women each have a close relationship with her and help her in various ways.    

DH had a great aunt that never married, DH's father (the nephew-in-law) helped her with things until she got older.  I had a great aunt who had her only child die as a toddler, my father helped her a good deal as she aged (he was also the nephew-in-law); I had another great aunt who never had children and one of her nephews helped her out.  

My neighbor never married, nor did his sister.  The two of them lived in the family home and helped take care of each other.  The sister died unexpectedly and he had deteriorating health issues.  Soon after he moved into a nursing home; mentally he is fine but he is bedridden; he would have probably needed nursing home care even if he had children because of the medical needs.  

DH's father wasn't in the category of childless (DH is an only child and we lived 8 hours away), but he married the maid--so there are a number of ways of handling this.  

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I have an aunt who never had children and one of her niece's on my uncle's side handles things for her. She's still in New Jersey and the rest of us are here in Florida. We, including extended family members, tried to get her to move here but she won't. We would care for her if she was local. Although she worked outside the home, she never handled any aspect of running the house - from bill paying to hiring repair people. She had to learn all of that after my uncle died. Fortunately, she's close with my uncle's side of the family so they all helped her. 

She's currently in assisted living because of dementia issues but the niece has POA and takes care of her. My cousin is often in contact with the niece so we know how she's doing.

My aunt is lucky. Not all childless elderly have extended family willing or able to help. I think they either have to hire someone to come to their home, or go into assisted living.

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My maternal and paternal cousins who aren’t married have siblings (and their children) who would check in on them. They have their own homes, retirement savings and are still working. My paternal cousins are actually still helping in the family business. 
My maternal aunt has my cousins checking in on her and she is still working. 
I had an abusive elderly relative that lived in a nursing home until he passed. All my other elderly relatives either have relatives helping and/or have an aide. My aunts and my husband’s late grandma had aides that stole some petty cash. So even with aides, relatives do have to check in randomly. 

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9 hours ago, Farrar said:

I agree that the childless often have more money.

The government needs to do more because this is going to be a big problem down the road.

(deleted)

The State of Washington voters passed a law that employees MUST purchase (probably via paycheck deduction) long-term care insurance policies.  I don't know anything more about it--I read about it online somewhere.

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29 minutes ago, Resilient said:

The State of Washington voters passed a law that employees MUST purchase (probably via paycheck deduction) long-term care insurance policies.  I don't know anything more about it--I read about it online somewhere.

My understanding is that if an employee has paid this tax for 10 years, they will be eligible for up to $100/day long-term care with a lifetime max of $36,500 (so one year of benefits) and the person has to remain in Washington to be eligible for the benefit.  

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My mom’s friend group is not so formal, but they talk about documents and plans and especially what their wishes are.  It is a topic of discussion.

I have seen it be a topic of conversation at church.

It is not so formal as what Farrar is describing, but it sounds very similar to what I have seen.  
 

Especially with people who do have kids and do not want to move to be near their kids.  They know they need to make plans and arrangements.  
 

Some people also have differences of opinions from their kids.

 

I hear frequently that some elderly people want much less medical care and their kids say “we can’t do that, I couldn’t do that.”
 

Well if the kids aren’t able to make the desired choices about how much medical care to provide, people have to decide if they will have a friend instead or still have their kids be in charge even knowing their wishes will not be followed.

 

It is tough.  

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2 minutes ago, Bootsie said:

My understanding is that if an employee has paid this tax for 10 years, they will be eligible for up to $100/day long-term care with a lifetime max of $36,500 (so one year of benefits) and the person has to remain in Washington to be eligible for the benefit.  

Interesting...thank you for posting.  I have all kinds of doubts about how effective and how efficient this will be.  Especially with the handcuff of staying in state.  

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10 minutes ago, Bootsie said:

My understanding is that if an employee has paid this tax for 10 years, they will be eligible for up to $100/day long-term care with a lifetime max of $36,500 (so one year of benefits) and the person has to remain in Washington to be eligible for the benefit.  

That is just a drop in the bucket!  My in-laws thought there would be set with their long-term care insurance.  Come to find out it would only cover $90/day only after they were there for a certain length of time (like 90 days or something).  Would have been a help, but very little help with the daily cost of assisted living or nursing home.  They both ended up passing at home on home hospice with 24/7 caregivers so a lot of premiums paid for years wasted.  

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19 minutes ago, Bootsie said:

My understanding is that if an employee has paid this tax for 10 years, they will be eligible for up to $100/day long-term care with a lifetime max of $36,500 (so one year of benefits) and the person has to remain in Washington to be eligible for the benefit.  

This is my understanding, too, and it’s a joke.  A joke that will probably come to California sooner rather than later.  Our governor never heard of a tax he didn’t like.

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There are ‘elder orphans’ who really have no one to take care of them.

Falling back on assisted living is iffy.  I have a relative who works in a care place and has cared for several relatives ‘ on the side ‘ and his frequently repeated conclusion is that care quality in institutions depends mostly on how many visitors the patient gets.  

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11 hours ago, Lecka said:

I have never seen it as an official thing at church.  I have only seen it where the support network happens to be related to church.  

 

 

I think churches should have licensed social workers on staff. But I don’t guess everyone would agree about that. I do believe navigating the elder years requires as much pastoral & cohort care as every other aspect of family life. 
 

Just my pair o’pennies. 

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1 hour ago, Resilient said:

Interesting...thank you for posting.  I have all kinds of doubts about how effective and how efficient this will be.  Especially with the handcuff of staying in state.  

It does seem like a huge amount of administrative overhead for a small potential benefit.  I would think that most people are in a situation in which they never need to use the LTC or they need much MORE assistance than this will provide.  The people who are really going to be harmed are young people who work at lower paying jobs in their younger years and then move out of the state; they will pay taxes but never receive a benefit.  Because you can opt out of the tax by having an individual LTC policy, high wage workers are going to be more likely to opt out because the will be able to buy better policies for less than this tax.  It would be sad for elderly to remain in the state rather than move to be closer to family to maintain this benefit.  It looks to me like the real winners will be the LTD insurance companies because many people will be forced to buy the insurance (or pay the tax) who would not have otherwise--and who from a financial planning perspective it is probably not a wise choice to buy.  

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The elders that I know without children have close relationships with friends, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. They end up taking on a lot of the care. 

I have an uncle without children. He's got himself a girlfriend only a few years older than me (!!!). She's already stepped in when he fell ill, so I assume she'll keep doing so as long as they stay together.  If I was closer, I'd check up on him more, but I'm 1800 miles away.  The relationship seems legit, so Mazel Tov. 

My dad's new wife doesn't have kids. I guess my dad is her care-plan! 🤷‍♀️  The current plan for the newlyweds seems to be "act like we'll never die".  My mom and her husband have the same "care plan".  🤷‍♀️

 

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7 hours ago, Carol in Cal. said:

There are ‘elder orphans’ who really have no one to take care of them.

Falling back on assisted living is iffy.  I have a relative who works in a care place and has cared for several relatives ‘ on the side ‘ and his frequently repeated conclusion is that care quality in institutions depends mostly on how many visitors the patient gets.  

This absolutely does make me nervous for the future of my no-contact relative. I’ve thought about the possibility of rotating check ins with two other people, and maybe we’ll give that a go, but I suspect it would still be pretty psychologically damaging. Depending on place and policies, I’d be happy to pay someone to make randomly scheduled weekly check ins.

She’s absolutely horrible, but that doesn’t mean I’m okay with abuse or neglect!

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1 hour ago, Carrie12345 said:

This absolutely does make me nervous for the future of my no-contact relative. I’ve thought about the possibility of rotating check ins with two other people, and maybe we’ll give that a go, but I suspect it would still be pretty psychologically damaging. Depending on place and policies, I’d be happy to pay someone to make randomly scheduled weekly check ins.

She’s absolutely horrible, but that doesn’t mean I’m okay with abuse or neglect!

This is where we are now with my MIL.  After years of almost no contact, FIL died last year and now she needs us all. the. time.  She acts like nothing ever happened before last year and calls us constantly with, " I need.  I want."  She was just diagnosed with colon cancer and I have to take her to the surgeon today.  She has become a HUGE burden to us, which we swore would never happen, but the alternative is...?  I don't know.  She needs us.  I did contact the county senior services center to find out resources we can use so we can be involved as little as possible, but it's still a lot on us.  She is totally helpless.  

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27 minutes ago, Kassia said:

This is where we are now with my MIL.  After years of almost no contact, FIL died last year and now she needs us all. the. time.  She acts like nothing ever happened before last year and calls us constantly with, " I need.  I want."  She was just diagnosed with colon cancer and I have to take her to the surgeon today.  She has become a HUGE burden to us, which we swore would never happen, but the alternative is...?  I don't know.  She needs us.  I did contact the county senior services center to find out resources we can use so we can be involved as little as possible, but it's still a lot on us.  She is totally helpless.  

I don't know if it's the same there, but I learned that until I said, 'I can't' no service really stepped in. 

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5 hours ago, Kassia said:

This is where we are now with my MIL.  After years of almost no contact, FIL died last year and now she needs us all. the. time.  She acts like nothing ever happened before last year and calls us constantly with, " I need.  I want."  She was just diagnosed with colon cancer and I have to take her to the surgeon today.  She has become a HUGE burden to us, which we swore would never happen, but the alternative is...?  I don't know.  She needs us.  I did contact the county senior services center to find out resources we can use so we can be involved as little as possible, but it's still a lot on us.  She is totally helpless.  

Hear this in a gentle voice. You are not obligated to take care of a horrible, damaging person. She can get an uber a taxi, call the county agency for the aging, call social services, pay a driver such as a neighbor. She can go to the nursing home and they will coordinate her care or a hospice facility. The hospital where she gets her care can have this coordinated through their social workers. 

You should not feel guilty about this, and do not let anyone verbally abuse you about it. I say this as someone who had a rock solid marriage for 27 year marriage that was nearly destroyed by my father when he became an abusive elder that I felt obligated to care for through his cancer and death. It has been 6 years, and dh and I narrowly avoided divorce court and are close again. But we barely made it, and it was his determination to really hang on that kept it together because I had nothing to give after what my father did to us. I am begging people here to NOT care for people who have shown their true stripes. Do not care for people who even if they have dementia/brain damage can't help it. You don't escape, the demands become oppressive, it can tank your relationships with children and spouses, and leave your health wrecked. This is what a trained staff is for, and they are not emotionally invested and go home at the end of the shift to a family who is NOT affected by that person. You don't have that privilege.

Just please do not do it!!! I can't emphasize enough the gigantic consequences to you and your family.

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@Faith-manorThank you for sharing and for your advice.  I am so sorry for what you went through and glad that you and your DH made it through such a terrible time.  

In our situation, we just don't know what to do.  She has family, but they are an hour away.  We are ten minutes from her.  She needs help with everything - the bills, the mail, her finances, electronics (her computer, her cell phone, the remote, the thermostat...), and now her health.  Now that she's dependent on us (most of the burden is on DH), she's usually much much nicer than she ever was before but sometimes her old self resurfaces when she doesn't get her way.  So, for the most part, she's not abusive or toxic in any way anymore, but she's just a very time-consuming burden/obligation that we swore we'd never have after so many years of her hurting us and our children.  

 

 

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1 hour ago, Kassia said:

@Faith-manorThank you for sharing and for your advice.  I am so sorry for what you went through and glad that you and your DH made it through such a terrible time.  

In our situation, we just don't know what to do.  She has family, but they are an hour away.  We are ten minutes from her.  She needs help with everything - the bills, the mail, her finances, electronics (her computer, her cell phone, the remote, the thermostat...), and now her health.  Now that she's dependent on us (most of the burden is on DH), she's usually much much nicer than she ever was before but sometimes her old self resurfaces when she doesn't get her way.  So, for the most part, she's not abusive or toxic in any way anymore, but she's just a very time-consuming burden/obligation that we swore we'd never have after so many years of her hurting us and our children.  

 

 

You can have her bills sent to a bill-paying service that she pays for.  The bills go to them, they pay them, and the monthly fee comes onto her credit card.  Ask at the bank.  

There is also a device that will send her cell phone calls to a landline.  If the cell phone is too complicated, she can keep the cell account (usually cheaper than land-line service) and use the device to connect to a simple landline  The connector is called CELL2JACK, costs about $25, and takes 4 minutes to set up.  

I don't know what kind of help she needs with the remote...the thermostat...the computer...  Someone I know had to get an enormous remote to accommodate both vision issues and can't find it-issues.  She put tape over all the controls on the remote except for the three the elder was allowed to use:  on/off, volume, and channel.  Computer issues are tough because they can be a link to services.  If you are setting everything up and the computer is just a time-waster, that's really not your problem.  The TV, really, the same if it is just a time-waster.

I keep thinking of things as the conversations go along...sorry to butt in with even more bossy instructions. I really feel for you and I know exactly how much of a time sink this is.  BTDT.  

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Posted (edited)

This thread has been so helpful.
Thankfully, both sets of our parents have reluctantly moved to assisted living apartments.
One set paid upfront when moving in for LTC coverage.
The other set has paid for LTC insurance for 20 years or so (they're 90yo now).  ($6K per year.)

The LTC insurance paperwork has been a nightmare, & I have a degree in accounting.
They had to have specific forms from their doctor, their facility, and us . . . and renewed every 6 months.
All this to say . . . it wasn't the "magic" coverage that we expected.
Honestly, we've read that some people higher eldercare attorneys to keep up with all the paperwork required.
But they do pay 80% of costs, which has been about $100K per year.
(Their payments still exceed the amount we've received as a claim.)

We are strong DIY, educated, caring children . . . and still, caring for both sets of parents IN ASSISTED LIVING has been very time consuming.
We live 3 hours away from my folks, and 10 hours from my dh's folks.
We are truly grateful (in hindsight) that their care has worked out, but their assisted living STILL needs assistance!  😉

Thankfully we have loving relationships with all our siblings (which is also rare).
I'm guessing everyone just does the best they can with the resources they have.

SO . . . my dh and I have recently redone all our Wills, and Trusts, adding POA and giving each of our kids specific Estate Management Tasks.
It's helped us articulate and plan for our future inevitable health decline.
We honestly don't want to make their oversight as difficult as it has been for us!
We intend to use our home equity for the LTC coverage.

ETA = Obviously it would be easy to plan . . . if you knew WHEN & HOW you were going to die.
Some of us will die in a car accident very quickly.
Others may live to be 100yo.
Truly we don't know if our kids can handle the responsibility . . . so I would add that having kids is no guarantee of a smooth transition in declining health.  (As @Carrie12345 has stated)
So Many Variables!

Edited by Beth S
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On 6/3/2021 at 6:20 AM, Carrie12345 said:

Anyway, I guess that’s my way of saying having kids doesn’t guarantee anything, lol.

This was actually what I was going to say as well.  Having kids doesn't guarantee one thing.

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1 hour ago, Resilient said:

 

I keep thinking of things as the conversations go along...sorry to butt in with even more bossy instructions. I really feel for you and I know exactly how much of a time sink this is.  BTDT.  

No, not bossy at all.  I appreciate your help and I'm sorry you've been through this.  

Just got back from her surgeon appt. with her.  She asked me to do something else with her after the appt. and I said I couldn't.  I also made it clear during the appt. that she would need to go to rehab after she is discharged from the hospital or get in-home care or having someone else she knows come in to help because we aren't available to do it.  Still, she is old and so confused and overwhelmed.  She didn't understand anything the surgeon told her and I did tell her I'd break it all down for her so she understands better - it was too much information for her at once.  She does expect us to be there for her through this and it's going to be very hard - in addition to seeing her as a responsibility/burden/obligation, the timing couldn't be worse as we have a bunch of other things going on this summer.  

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15 hours ago, Kassia said:

No, not bossy at all.  I appreciate your help and I'm sorry you've been through this.  

Just got back from her surgeon appt. with her.  She asked me to do something else with her after the appt. and I said I couldn't.  I also made it clear during the appt. that she would need to go to rehab after she is discharged from the hospital or get in-home care or having someone else she knows come in to help because we aren't available to do it.  Still, she is old and so confused and overwhelmed.  She didn't understand anything the surgeon told her and I did tell her I'd break it all down for her so she understands better - it was too much information for her at once.  She does expect us to be there for her through this and it's going to be very hard - in addition to seeing her as a responsibility/burden/obligation, the timing couldn't be worse as we have a bunch of other things going on this summer.  

Again, this is where you can call the healthcare provider of the surgery and say, "We will not be caring for her, and will be gone a lot. She needs and advocate and a social worker." Emphasize that you absolutely will not be caring for her. They really do have people who coordinate these things, but it only happens when the hospital realizes it can't dump off the responsibility on the family. Once they understand this, they will have social workers and the county department/advocacy group for the elderly kick it in gear. They will have people help provide transportation, a healthcare advocate at her appointments to help her understand what the doctor and nurses are telling her, and will arrange for either some in home care, rehab, or nursing home. Usually this also includes 2-3 hours a week of house cleaning if the elder is going home instead of into a care facility and also getting hooked up with meals on wheels plus a CNA once a week to help with bathing, toe nail clipping, etc. If she is at home and on chemo, it may include a once a week RN home visit to access her physical condition and pharma situation. Had I not let my extended family and father and mother guilt the absolute crap out of me, and refused to care for him, these things would have been provided.

Also, she needs someone that is NOT family to really talk turkey to her about her cancer diagnosis and what it means to be on chemo, what the likely outcome would be. My father should never have been on chemo and should have instead went directly into hospice. He barely survived the chemo, and it did not extend his life, not even a little bit. His doctor tried to tell him, but he didn't seem to get it. No one else intervened because they figured my brother and I would deal with him, and he would come to the right decision. Bad assumption. He was such a freaking horrible person to us and not only refused to have a discussion about it, called us murderers and other choice words for suggesting that he was terminal and chemo was not going to change that nor buy him quality time with mom much less quantity of life.

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@Faith-manorthank you again for all of this information and support.  It is very useful and appreciated.  I am going to save this and pursue much of what you wrote here.  And, again, I am very sorry for what you went through.  My mother was a dangerous toxic narcissist but we were estranged when she died and I was told she had a heart attack and died quickly, so there weren't any caregiving issues.  She lived out of state.  I'm grateful that I didn't have to make any decisions on what to do in her case.  

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