The subject is like walking through a mine field; blindfolded. I am sure all people have an opinion ranging from idealistic views of childhood sitcoms to heart breaking dramas and horror stories.
I want to talk to the people who have to support their parent or parents, and not all you trust fund kids or people fighting over inheritances. If that is you, there is nothing for you here in this far distant planet. Move on!
If you are reading this, you are probably either supporting your Mom or Dad by having them live with you, or possibly even trying to convince your parents to take over their finances. I have to admit; in some ways I am lucky that this isn’t my situation. That is another “kettle of fish” and a biggie!
I want to discuss something in the middle. In other words, there are no investments. There are no assets. There is a moderately healthy parent that is on their own. However they cannot work, due to health and mobility, but still refuse to go into an assisted living facility. You find yourself 100% supporting them with a little help of social security or public retirement assistance.
First, realize there are many forces at work here. There is the vision in your head of what should have been. After all, parents are the safety net in the back of your mind that are remnants of childhood. The one person you could always rely on…unconditionally. OK things happen. Monies are not saved in a proper strategic plan and all of a sudden someone wakes up at 70; alone and broke. The flipside is that you did all the right things and have planned. Society and your upbringing tell you that you need to be there and be their safety net. Fair enough.
What’s happening in the mind of the parent?
Well, first there is probably guilt. This is not the role that Society has programmed for them. If they are like my Mom, who was a single working mother, her whole life, she never had to ask for anything. She made do with what was available. Having to “take from her son” is traumatic. With that said, now she has to.
Now here is where the slippery path comes in.
Parents are getting older. They have wants, desires, and are dealing with the aging process. Maybe they want to travel. OK, I get it… I do too. The supporting child also has obligations and dreams. What happens when these are at odds?
Common sense will tell you that communication is “key”. Each side needs to articulate what they are feeling, and try to respect the other persons stand point. An open conversation of each person’s wants and capabilities/resources must be clearly stated. The end result will be a mutually respectful and well thought-out plan.
This, of course sounds, wonderful; and a true “Kumbaya” moment. In my family, it just sets the stage for another year of not talking.