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Concerned About an Elderly Parent Getting Married?

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What to Do When Your 85 Year Old Mother Tells You She’s Getting Married

Most of us want what’s best for our elderly parent and tend to feel a bit protective. Romantic feelings, sexuality and the need for companionship are not exclusive to youth. Many aging parents will find love again after a spouse dies (or post-divorce). For adult children, this can raise concerns, especially when the relationship happens in late life and various complexities are involved. So, our team brings you some valuable advice and resources on later life marriage.

  1. Take some time to process your emotions before having an in-depth conversation with your parent. You may feel upset or even angry, which can immediately cause conflict since your parent is likely feeling very happy about the situation. The way you feel is clouded by all kinds of emotions and family history. Consider taking some time to “cool off” and maybe even talk to a professional about what you’re feeling and your concerns. Our geriatric care managers can be a valuable partner in this process, helping you not only talk through things but assess legitimate concerns and find resources. For those having trouble dealing with the situation over time, counseling may be recommended.
  2. Prepare for a family conversation. Write down your concerns and do a little research beforehand (see our resources below). This way you can be prepared to bring concrete issues up during the conversation (and hopefully find solutions).
  3. Acknowledge your loved one’s emotions and consider their perspective. You should set aside quiet, non-rushed time for the meeting and include siblings and other key family members. You may want to talk to your elderly parent about having a geriatric care manager there or at a follow-up meeting (pose it as an expert to help with financial and practical questions that might come up). If your parent decides to get married , you have to decide how you will handle it and how that will effect your relationship. Even if you are not pleased with the decision (and assuming there aren’t competency issues or exploitation), it may be better to make peace after you have expressed your concrete concerns, so that you can maintain a relationship with your loved one.

Practical Concerns for an Elderly Parent Getting Married in Later Life

  • Finances: This is a complicated area in most marriages but more so in later life when retirement plans, Social Security and a larger asset base often come into play. Talking to financial advisors is key (but can also be tricky when each member of the couple has a different advisor who may feel protective or have different advice…talk to them and ask if a group meeting can be set up, or what they’d advise). A good financial advisor can assist in planning to avoid pitfalls. Many advisors have gained experience in helping other clients/couples in similar situations.
  • Benefits: Programs like social security and Medicaid may be affected by a marriage. Regarding Social Security (SS), remarriage after age 60 should not affect widow/widower’s benefits. If marriage occurs after full retirement age and one partner’s Social Security benefit is less than half of the new spouse’s, he/she can receive the Social Security benefit of their own record plus an additional amount to bring the amount up to half of the new spouse’s SS benefit (generally one year into the marriage)*. Medicaid is usually based on household income so this and any other public benefits may be affected.
  • Estate planning: It is essential to revisit estate planning with the new marriage in mind, ideally before the marriage takes place. Wills, trusts and key legal documents as well as financial paperwork (beneficiary designations, for example) may all need to be updated (and hopefully discussed).
  • Housing and logistics: Aging parents who own homes may decide to sell one home to move in together, or sell both homes and buy a new home. Adult children might have sentimental attachments to the home, or might have practical concerns (such as wanting the elders to consider selling to purchase a more senior-friendly home or move to a retirement community). Various logistical issues may arise as the partners merge their lives.
  • Caregiving/long-term care needs: What if one partner has long-term care insurance and the other does not (and/or the partners have quite different financial situations)?  What happens when one spouse begins to need care? How will you and your siblings feel about money being spent on care of the new spouse? Are you concerned about Mom having to take care of her new husband? *Important note: don’t mistakenly think a prenuptial agreement will solve issues of paying for care automatically. Medicaid, for example, does not acknowledge a prenup in considering the couple’s assets and income (but we recommend you talk to an elder law attorney, as there may be planning and strategies available).

Resources for an Elderly Parent Getting Married Again

Wells Fargo Conversations: Autumn Love

Five Things to Consider Before Late-in-Life Marriage*

ElderLaw Answers: How Divorce and Remarriage Affect Social Security Benefits

Contact Aging Wisely at 727-447-5845 for help with the practical and emotional issues of an elderly parent getting married. We can assist with resources and counseling, assessment of the situation and needs (as well as specific issues like memory loss and projecting possible care needs/options), family mediation and referrals to professionals such as elder law attorneys.

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The Age of Love and Older Adult Relationships

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One February 27th, we will be co-hosting an exclusive screening of The Age of Love at Mease Manor in Dunedin. The Age of Love is new documentary that follows the adventures of 30 seniors who sign up for a first-of-its-kind speed dating event exclusively for 70- to 90-year-olds. It follows the stories of some of the seniors involved and explores themes about love, relationships and how dreams and desires change – or don’t change – from first love to the far reaches of life. If you’re interested in getting a sneak peak at The Age of Love movie, RSVP today to reserve your seat.

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Why did Aging Wisely and EasyLiving think The Age of Love screening was important to co-host?

We have always made it our mission to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial well-being. We understand the importance of seeing each elder as an individual and understanding the human needs that continue over a lifetime. Elders are as varied as any age group of people, maybe even more so since they have had many years of different life experiences, and their relationship needs, desires and concerns vary widely too. There are many underlying stereotypes and assumptions we may hold about older adults (often without even realizing it) and this movie helps get us thinking about them.

The movie also reminds us of the importance of relationships and companionship in later life. Many of the speed dating participants have lost spouses over the years through divorce or death. Most are looking to find the same thing many of us are: a companion to sit by their side and avoid facing the process of aging alone. Contrary to what society constantly seems to tell us, growing older doesn’t mean that we cease to have the same desires as anyone else, and it’s heartening to see The Age of Love take those desires seriously.

Ask Yourself: Discussion Topics from The Age of Love

How You View Older Adults
  • “My perception of myself at this age is certainly different than the perception I had of my grandparents.”—Dwight, The Age of Love  How do you imagine you’ll be as an elder? Is it different than how you see elders you know? How do you think we tend to see ourselves in terms of age? Do you think elders today are different from elders 20-30 years ago? What about in the future?
  • Do you inadvertently treat elders in a child-like manner at times (using terms like “honey” or calling them “cute”)?
  • Are there ways in which you might be treating elders as if their needs and concerns are all the same?
  • Do you have certain assumptions about elders in terms of romantic and intimate relationships?
Loss, Isolation and Loneliness in Old Age
  • Older adults disproportionately suffer from loneliness and isolation. What are some of the things about the way our society is structured that might contribute to this?
  • What are some possibly solutions to loneliness and isolation/losses of aging? If you notice an older loved one becoming more isolated, what would you do?
Relationship Issues
  • If you work (or imagine yourself working) at an Assisted Living or other senior care setting, would your personal beliefs impact your interactions with senior clients and their relationships? For example, how would you feel and react to a same-sex relationship among two residents? How would you feel if a woman with a spouse living in the community began having a relationship with another man in the community?
  • What complications arise when elders have dementia? How can we define their ability to consent to a relationship?
  • What feelings would you have if your widowed parent become involved with someone new? Would there be a situation where you can see being concerned (what would cause you concern)?
  • In care facilities, how can we balance the need for safety/supervision in group settings with the reality that older adults do continue to be sexual human beings with a need for intimacy and private time?

We’ll be sharing more thought-provoking questions, answers and information throughout the month, so stay tuned!

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, it’s a great time to take a look at those you love with a new lens. In addition to logistical and medical needs that come with aging, don’t forget the diverse human needs of your aging parents.

Aging Wisely is here to help! Our comprehensive assessment is a holistic look at the situation, offering solutions to ensure a well-rounded quality of life. Some of the issues we help with include: family mediation (dealing with conflicts over relationships and concerns you might have about someone being taken advantage of), engaging eldercare services and resources for a more fulfilling life, suggesting age-friendly activities to suit the person’s interests and abilities…and more. Contact us at 727-447-5845 for a free consultation!

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Our goal is to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial wellbeing.