The Future is Bleak

by Looking for Hope
(Kentucky)

Regarding the initial purpose of this post, I'm just looking for general advice. I realize different people have different experiences and unique perspectives that might help me.


I'm turning 30 this year and my parents are both 62. I can tell a significant decline in their health in the last few years. My father had a heart attack a few years ago. My mom gets sick much more often and takes much longer to recuperate.

I realize these are natural things that can occur with aging. I have three specific areas I'm struggling to cope with, though.

First off, their finances. I realize most people from my generation expect a family inheritance when their parents pass away, or at least material possessions of some value. I do not fall in this category. I don't want anything. My issue is that they have a significant amount of debt.

And with retirement just around the corner, I predict they will lose the house and/or have to file bankruptcy.

My mom is better at money management but my dad takes the approach of... sweeping everything under the rug and pretending it's not a problem or doesn't exist.

My concern lies in when they pass away. I'm worried my brother and I will be saddled with their debt and/or coming up with the money to pay for funeral expenses. (I'm not sure if they both have life insurance policies. My mom generally keeps me informed of their money troubles but nothing extremely specific regarding their finances.)

My brother and I have young families, are saddled with student loan debt, and have almost no savings. How would we afford funeral costs?

Secondly, they do not have their affairs in order with a will. I worked for a woman who lost her dad to cancer and saw the lengthy process involved when a family member passes away.

There's loads of paperwork, legal issues, possible court visits, and lawyers fees. Again, we cannot afford this and I know it would take years to settle their estate.

I'm aware that, on average, it takes almost one year to settle an estate when everything was in order before the person's death.

I live 2 hours away and my brother lives 7 hours away. My brother and I would risk losing our jobs if we had to constantly take off work to deal with their belongings (they are borderline pack-rats), show up to sign paperwork, etc.

I wish they would at least establish a will so things would go smoother after their passing.

From speaking to other people, it can be a nightmare without one.

Thirdly, as I mentioned before, I can tell a significant decline in their overall health status. My mom at least tries to take care of herself but she could do a bit better.

She constantly takes this position of "Poor pitiful me. I'm so frail and can't handle that." She wasn't always like this. I believe it slowly developed over time because my father never showed her compassion when she was ill or injured.

So, she seeks sympathy from everyone else around her. My brother and I are typically the opposite. We push through just about everything (colds, back problems, etc) and go on with life.

I honestly wouldn't mind caring for her as she got older. But she is constantly falling and hurting herself already so I foresee her needing 24-care sooner rather than later.

As for my dad, I am not inclined to care for him at all as he ages. His health issues were preventable and he brought them on himself. He makes no attempt to care for himself. He has smoked a pack per day for at least 35 years, he constantly eats fast food, only drinks water once he starts getting leg cramps, and he's quite lazy.

He is so used to sitting and doing nothing, that even doing simple tasks are extremely difficult.

I realize his heart attack plays a significant role here. But he won't even go for a walk or do anything physical. So, his body is accustomed to doing nothing, making even the most mediocre tasks seem daunting.

For most of the last 15 years, I have been doing household necessities for my mom since my dad wouldn't (repairs, lifting things that were too heavy for her, moving furniture, fixing doors, basic home repair, etc).

He always had a job. But always looked for an excuse not to work. And he has never showed any signs of a work ethic at home.

So why should I care (in the future) for someone that has never attempted to care for themselves, and is setting my brother and I up for failure? For us to risk our livelihood because they're too lazy to get their financial affairs, household, and legal documents in order? (To give my mom credit, she has tried. When she prompts my dad about it, he just gets angry, ignores her, literally walks out when she tries to speak to him, or just flat out lies.)

Yes, they provided food, shelter, and clothing as we were growing up. But I feel this is your duty as a parent (I'm a parent myself), whether you planned for a child or not. I also feel that it is a person or couple's duty to plan for their financial future.

I certainly do not expect my kids to pay for anything in my old age. I am saving for retirement and that will help pay for any assistance, housing, medical care I might need, and funeral costs.

There's also the implications these decisions (or lack of actions) will have on my brother's spouse and mine (I'm getting married in November). How is this fair to them?

Overall, I feel that most of these things have to do with self-management. Things that are completely within their control. My brother and I work very hard and try to be good children. I have spoken to them on many occasions about these issues but there are no changes.

Why can't they consider the implications that their decisions will have on us? I'm sorry this post ended up being so long. After reading it, it's obvious I've grown quite bitter over the years. I didn't ask for any financial assistance when I went through difficult times.

The way I saw it, it was my life, my issues, and my burden. I was just going to have to deal with the struggles. But after divorcing my abusive ex-husband, being homeless, and being the parent of a special needs child, I just want my parents to take responsibility for themselves like I have done.

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Sep 17, 2016
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Look out for yourself
by: Anonymous

Worrying about the things you don't have control over won't do you any good. And it is obvious from what you wrote that you can't manage your parents' lives for them, and be their keeper.

You wouldn't want to do this anyway, unless you're willing to be a martyr and give up your own life by doing so.

We CANNOT control what happens in the future, no matter how perfect the plans. You don't KNOW for sure whether it will be bleak or not, you're just surmising in a pessimistic manner. Sometimes things have a way of working themselves out despite what we fear.

Since you can't control the future, even by wishing that your parents would prudently plan for it, stop worrying that you're going to end up with the mess. They are your parents--you aren't theirs. All you can do is love them even if you don't like them, assuming that you don't hate them.

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