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Expectations of adult children to ageing parents

Wilhelm's picture

I am wondering what others expectations are of children towards ageing parents. My parents are 88 and 86. Of 4 siblings I live the closest and visit them at least twice a week. I sit and have a cup of coffee and a chat and check if they need anything .

My brother who is in his 60s is on dialysis so not able to get around or help much but my sisters who live a little further away visit fortnightly and I know will leave work or whatever they are doing if I call and ask for help.

My husband is 75. He has 5 children to two different BM. The oldest daughter lives nearby. She has not visited DH in 6 mths although she has rung once or twice in this time to tell him she loves him. I am providing pretty much 24 hour care for her father. Her main worry seems to be that he might leave me something in his will and she will miss out. I am quite capable of paying my own way but she doesn't appear to realise that. A thankyou for caring for her father would be appreciated but I will not hold my breath.

I need to get some skingrafts this week and the following week DH needs some medical treatment. My friends think I should put DH into respite but I really do not want to.

 So how much do you help out older family members or expect to have to in the future?

JRI's picture

My mom is 97 and in a long-term place so my involvement now is twice daily calls and one 30-minute visit, they just started allowing that recently.  I handle all her financial matters and do her shopping (crossword books, yarn, wine, candy, etc).   My 2 brothers live out of town, each calls at least weekly and before covid, visited twice annually

Leading up to this point, 4 years ago, Mom had been living with my now-deceased disabled sister and serving as her caretaker.  As their situation deteriorated, I was at their condo a few times a week, taking my sister to appointments, running errands, etc.  When Mom decided they should move to an adult care community, my involvement ramped up: touring sites, figuring out finances, arranging the move.  We hired movers but theres always plenty to do.  In the middle of all this, the same month, DH had a knee replacement and we wete moving SD out of our house.  I thought once I got Mom and sister moved, I was done.  Wrong.  My sister was only able to stay in their cottage for a few months before having to move to the assisted living building, then ultimately to a long-term place 30 miles away.  Then Mom developed dementia and had to move to the apartment building in the community.  She lasted there for awhile before moving to the assisted living then last year, to a nearby long-term.  If this sounds like a lot of moving, it was.  I moved one or the other 7 times since 2017, each time with more disposal of their " stuff".  Mom wouldnt have neen too bad but my sister had a "difficult" personality, was morbidly obese and had one leg amputated. Everything to do with her was difficult, poor thing, RIP.

My DH83 has stage 4 prostate cancer but its being treated successfully.  Now, he has a leg. issue that has caused him to have to use a cane.  But, overall, he is doing pretty well.

So, I get where you are coming from.  Our kids sometimes call, I think they are in denial about their dad's condition.  If I called any of them, they would help but I don't think they really understand the situation here.  I think they are busy living their own lives.  Guess we will just have to see how it works out.

Good luck to you, it's not easy or fun.

Winterglow's picture

When my dad's heath was failing, my mother had to put him into respite several times, one time because she had heart surgery and the other times because she was just plain exhausted. Well, dad loved respite! He considered it to be a holiday (on par with staying in an all-inclusive hotel). He loved the attention he got, the activities that were organized, and the general good vibes of most of the places he was in. Check out what respite really looks like in your area and you might not feel so bad about it.


Wilhelm's picture

Really it is partly that I am getting really annoyed that his kids appear to just think it is not their responsibility in the least.

notsurehowtodeal's picture

My Mom had a stroke almost 10 years ago, and my Dad died 6 months later. My Mom requires 24 hour care and fortunately has the means to hire private help. However, my sister and I both take at least 2 "shifts" a week and check in on her daily. I handle all of her financial affairs and we take turns taking her to the doctor.

We come from a long line of "family taking care of family." My maternal Great-Grandmother moved to a house on my Grandmother's ranch and lived the last 20 years of her life there. My mother was very involved in the care of my Dad's parents as they aged.

I don't have kids, but am quite sure my niece will take care of me if and when I need it! Since your DH's kids won't step up, for your sake, get some respite care so you can take care of yourself.

tog redux's picture

My mom is 86, my dad died 3 years ago. I live in the same town and I have a sister in town as well.  Another sister 1.5 hours away (and a brother 6 hours away).

She's very active and needs no help (still golfing and driving and giving museum tours as a docent).  I speak to her weekly - used to see her weekly before COVID.  I've helped her on the occasions she needs it for appointments she can't drive for, etc (ie, where she is sedated).  My sisters help too.  We all helped when my dad was in the hospital to give her a break.

I don't expect my SS21 to help DH with anything in old age.  He's more likely to get help from my local nieces than his son.

ESMOD's picture

There isn't a one size fits all solution.  The needs and capablilities of everyone and other circumstances (like covid).. and finances need to be factored in.

Sometimes kids don't get the "shift" when there comes a time that their parents may need help.. or that the level of care they need may be outpacing what they and their spouse (if in the home).. can do for themselves.  It is easy to get caught up in their own lives, jobs, kids etc... so sometimes, unless someone points out or asks for help.. the kids may carry on blissfully ignorant of the need.

Sometimes kids have their own financial, mental health issues or sometimes some people are just self absorbed... 

My father is 91.  He lives several hours from me and my brother.  He gets daily calls and we have been to see him a handful of times since the pandemic.  He does have a rotation of caregivers who act as help/companionship/dog walkers during the day.. but he is able to manage at night.  He did need help when he got sick with the flu a few years ago.. and has had the caregivers with him since.  He doesn't probably need them as much as they are there.. but he feels that he will need more help eventually.. so since he can afford it.. he keeps them on.

In a normal times.. I would agree with people suggesting some respite for your DH while you are going to be a little under the weather dealing with your own medical issues.. but during covid.. I would be careful as to what that might entail... you don't want to increase exposure risk during this time.

But.. if you need help.. I would ask for help.. from his daughter.. from family etc.. even outside services if it gets to that point.  You are only able to truly help if you are in good shape yourself.. so don't let yourself get so run down that you aren't able to function.


Wilhelm's picture

Thanks for that reply. I would be concerned a little about covid as down here in Aus we have had it spread with drastic results through nursing homes. At the moment we have no cases outside of quarantine in the country but we have not started to vaccinate at all yet due to supply and waiting for  approval and safety of the vaccines. The vaccine that has been approved so far is the one that needs ultra cold conditions. Our population spread does not make it practical for use in many places.

Crspyew's picture

Has lived with us for the last 5.5 years.  Prior to that she lived six hours away, I called daily, visited every six weeks and took vacation to care for her when she had medical procedures.  I have a sister-in-law who lived nearby and was just as involved.  She is a saint in my book.  At the time I had 3 brothers who lived 30 minutes, 1 and 4 hours away respectively.  They would visit on holidays and call her infrequently and then call me to tell me what I needed to do.  Yes these knights in shining armor are the types who proclaim their "Christian" beliefs loud and proud on Facebook!  Least Christian Christians I've ever known but that's another story. 
mom moved in with us when she could no longer drive.  She is still fairly mobile and mentally acute.  We are lucky.  If needed we can afford to bring in careers. 
DH is 70 and a physical wreck, cancer survivor, degenerative arthritis in his legs and spine, COPD, all a result of his military service.  I go with him to appointments, and if he needs care that requires hospitalization one of my kids will stay with mom.  They also give DH and I breaks by staying with her on the weekend every few months.  They live her and DH. 
DHs kids have been MIA for the most part.  They call every few weeks but have never ever once offered any real help or assistance.  I don't count on them for any help. If I need help I reach out to my kids, because they invest time in the relationships they know the needs and understand the frailties.

another poster said something like they are a family that takes care of family.  That applies to the women in my family.  I love my mom, I live my DH, but I live my daughter as well.  I am ensuring I have assets to pay for care.

Wilhelm's picture

I have assets to afford care for myself, my children and DH. Sadly I have had to tell DH his assets will be used first before I dip into mine . When skid51 visited way back she complained that nobody was going to leave her any money for her retirement. She does not and has never worked so I am not sure what she will be retiring from. I inherited money when my first husband died. I would rather he had not died young. She needs to be a little careful what she wishes for.

Birchclimber's picture

I have an adult Skid who had been continuously expressing concern over being broke and the fact that she'd have no money to leave her kids when she passes.  This is her passive way of saying that when my DH of 30 years passes, she and her sister should be "entitled" to inherit something. We have informed her in the past that, when we pass away, (whichever one of us passes first) we have willed our estate to each other.  We suggested that she get a job and that she should never hinge her financial future on the expectation of will money. 

After countless emails about the fact that she is worried sick over not having money to "retire" with, she finally went back to school to get herself a trade and now, at the age of 49, she has a job.
She hasn't quite come to terms with the fact that, her father and I: #1, are married and have made each other the priority in life and in death, #2, opened and ran a business together putting in equal time and effort to make it a success, #3 made our money and planned our retirement accordingly. 

As for her helping us out in our "golden years".  We only hear from her when SHE needs something.  Now that she has a job, it's been a while....and that's fine with me!

BritJules18's picture

My DH's step father passed away about 3 years ago. He and MIL had been married for 30 years. All kids were adults when they married. I had known him for about 13 years at that point and had never met any of his 4 kids even though we celebrated every birthday, anniversary and christmas with them. As it became clear he was very unwell, my MIL began to get calls regularly from his kids asking how he was. I was the one with my mother in law and her DH when he passed away. They all attended his funeral and seemed nice enough. A week later she began to get calls from them asking about his will! They had some pretty nasty words for my mother in law when they realised she got everything. She had been his carer for many years and eventually had to have a live in carer as it was taking its toll on her health which depleted a lot of money. Funny thing is they were all thinking they would get a share of the house. If they had any interest in their father, they would have known the house was my mother in law's and has been passed down for many generations! So sad.

Wilhelm's picture

Sounds a bit like skid51. She has asked DH about the house as she hoped to inherit it and have me removed. He told her it was my house. I assume she thinks he is leaving it to me. I paid for it as she would know if she bothered to visit her father regularly. His two youngest kids , still in their 20s know it is mine and asked if I was leaving it to my kids. I said of course. I have paid for everything in and around the house but have asked DH to pay for alterations that need to be made to help him get around. Our government supplies a contractor with free labour to the elderly but materials need to be paid for. I have also asked him to help pay for his wheelchair.

Rags's picture

Both sets of my GPs, my parents, and my DW and I lived for many years of our careers in the Middle East. That limited the time we spent with GPs.  But.... my dad is an only child so he and mom were the ones who managed his parent's affairs from where ever in the world they were living.

My dad is 78 and my mom is 76.  My DW and I are the ones who live closest to my parents and are the ones most involved with them.  My brother and SIL still live overseas and have never really been all that involved.  Though my brother would be there ASAP if needed.  Once they return to the US, it will remain to be seen how involved they will be with mom and dad as they age.  No matter where we have lived, we are always involved and can be at mom and dad's house within 24 hours. The same for my ILs though my DW's 3 younger sibs and their families all live within minutes of my IL's home.

There will be no fiancial burden on us or my brother regarding my mom and dad, we will likely have to support my MIL as she and FIL accumulated nothing but debt over their entire lives.  My DW's sibs do not have the resources or income to help financially.


sammigirl's picture

My DH passed one year ago, March 16, 2020.  He was diagnosed with Lupus 35 years prior.

OSS62 was there any time possible, when I asked.  He never hesitated.  SD60 had no time for her Dad, and certainly didn't offer to help.  YSS58 only called and talked to his dad, when he needed bail money over the 40 years we were married.

My DH passed in our home under my care, just the two of us.  His children were well informed of his condition the full 35 years.

I cared for my mother, she had cancer.  She died in my home, with me lying beside her.

My father went to heaven at age 102, in his own home.  I cared and saw him every day.

I have no regrets.  Stepkids will grow old and need care one day.  It is sad, but times are unforgiving.


Rags's picture

My condolences Sammi.

How are you doing?  Anniversaries of sad events can be tough.  My mom and dad have a rough day on my baby brother's birthday and the aniversary of his death.  It has been nearly 49 years since he was born.  


sammigirl's picture

I am doing well.  It has been busy, going smoothly.

Thank you for asking.  My heart goes out to you and your family.  

Rags's picture

Thanks.  But we are good.  It has been a lifetime since he passed.  I remember him very clearly.  My younger brother was only 2 when the baby passed.  He has no memory of any of it.   Mom and dad are the ones who struggle on his birthday amd date of passing.

My youngest nephew was born on the same day within an hour of when my youngest brother was born.  When they realized that, mom and dad just held each other and sobbed.

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

Aging parents can be tough.  We, unfortunately, had to put my Mom in respite because of her severe stoke but we kept an eye on my Dad until he passed (Mom passed 6 years before him).  It is not easy.

I am living with my DD and her family which is very nice.  So far, even with my bad legs, I have been able to do things for myself but we all know the time will come when that will change.

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

I am luckly.  I live with my DD and her family and it is great. 

Now with my ex, his Twit would only show up if there is something in it for her.  Hois other children lived farther away.  Knowing her, as I wish I didn't, lhe would have to schedule any health problems and evening passing around her schedule.  

Rags's picture

My college fiance (right out of HS) and long ago had a similar arrangement to what you have with your family.  Her parents built a small apartment onto their house overlooking the back garden/pool and her mom's mother lived there.  She had her own entrance to her apartment as well as a connecting door to the main house.  It was a great set up.  The family dog went back and forth between the main house and the grandmother's apartment.  Everyone had privacy when they wanted it and the whole family was closely integrated.  It was a great set up.

My mom and dad made a proposal over this past Christmas.  Not an expectation but an interesting and appreciated offer.

We met my parents in W Texas for Christmas a few months ago.  The four of us hiked our tails off, did some cool 4x4 trips out in the middle of nowhere.  We had a great time isolating from the world in mom and dad's monster 5th wheel RV.

Mom likes to take a down day (2 titanium/ceramic knees) after every few days of hiking.  She and my DW stayed home on one of mom's down days and dad and I got incredibly lost on a 4x4 adventure for half a day.  While we were slogging around the back country he dropped an interesting comment/proposal on me.  He said that if we wanted to retire and get out of the rat race that he and mom would love it if DW and I moved in with them.    22 years ago Mom and dad built a big house for their retirement.  5000FT^2, 6 bedrooms, 4 baths.  They then worked another 10 years.  It is the extended family hub and home base.  It was a moving discussion and offer.  No pressure. They don't need us or anyone else to augment their living expenses, and neither do we.  But, our retirement investments are more than adequate for a "normal" duration retirement though not enough for us to live on for 30 or more years without significantly more added to the principal and no demand on that nest egg for 10-ish more years.  He also discussed that we could accept their offer, sell our home, and keep working.

My DW could continue an incredible career if we took their offer as her profession has great opportunity just about anywhere. Mine on the other hand, there is just about nothing for me in that area unless I make a major industry/career change which would likely necessitate a notable reduction in what I historically demand in base salary.  Which really would not be a big deal in a situation where we had next to nothing in living expenses other than car expenses and half of the food expenses for 4 adults.  I could do rotation assignment type work and remain in my current profession/field.  

We may yet decide to go with that model depending on how my ongoing career search unfolds.  I have had some strong bites on rotational opportunities  back in the Middle East.  Not my favorite way to do things, but... we have done them before.

I am happy for you and your family in how well integrating your lives has gone.

Give Scully a scratch from me.