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Concerned About an Elderly Parent Getting Married?

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aging parents marriage issues

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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Taking Care of Mom: When Your Aging Parents Don’t Want Help

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aging parents Mom refusing help

As Mother’s Day approaches, you may have more weighing on your mind than just what gift to get your aging Mom. Perhaps you are worried that Mom or both of your aging parents are not doing well. Maybe you’ve already experienced some crisis and can tell the situation is getting worse. Unfortunately, sometimes when we try to offer help, our aging parents refuse those offers. It is not uncommon to get the response, “We’re fine.” when you know they are not.

What can you do when your aging parents refuse your help?

  • Keep an open dialogue. Try not to react with anger and to listen to what Mom is saying (we often work with family members well before we work with the elder, talking to them about their concerns and anxieties and suggesting different approaches). Try to gain an understanding of her perspective and the hidden messages she may not be stating. Remember that change doesn’t usually happen immediately, and this typically needs to be an ongoing conversation.
  • Try to find an opening. What does Mom say she would like help with? Is there something you can suggest which would make her life easier but not seem like an admission of problems or loss of independence? Household help, such as light housekeeping and meal preparation, or driving services are two areas where many seniors first accept help.
  • Don’t miss out on windows of opportunity. If Mom has a hospitalization, needs surgery or comes down with an illness, bring in “temporary” help (there’s more chance it will turn permanent when Mom becomes comfortable with help and sees the benefits).
  • Take a step back and get perspective. It’s your aging Mom and it’s understandably emotional when you’re worried about her. But, often, arguing won’t get you anywhere. Remember that she’s an adult and can make poor or different choices (as long as she’s competent to do so and not putting herself or others in immediate danger). It might help to talk to a professional or get an assessment to determine where things stand from an objective perspective and prioritize needs.
  • Learn about resources and where to turn when there is immediate danger. There may be situations where you have to take action, despite Mom’s protests. It’s also good to be prepared for the time when she might accept help. You want things to go well, so do your research about any services she might need. If she is in immediate danger or you feel she is incapable of making decisions, find out about the process you need to follow. For example, in Florida you could contact the Department of Family and Children’s Services for reporting elder abuse/neglect, including self-neglect and there is a Baker Act process for Florida residents who need immediate, involuntary psychiatric evaluation. These are used in worst-case scenarios. Talk to a professional about ideas and resources. We can give you information and refer you to an attorney about the guardianship process, if needed.

For more tips and resources on topics like this, sign up for our monthly newsletter. We’re here to help! Call us at 727-447-5845 with questions.

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A Better Approach to Eldercare

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eldercare team

This client circle of care depicts the care team involved with an elderly or disabled client (also known as “the patient”, “Mom”, “Dad”, “Aunt Betty”, “resident”, “care recipient”). As our founders, Linda Chamberlain and Dr. Kerry Chamberlain, presented on “A Better Approach to Eldercare” at last week’s Aging in America conference, the focus was on how to harness the power of this care team to ensure the approach remains centered on the client.

The first stage in this approach is the beginning conversation. Too often, conversations around eldercare are done within silos and are focused by what the particular specialty wants to cover. Rather than working together (and starting with the client’s priorities), the individual may be blind to what is going on in the client’s life outside his/her office. Unfortunately, this can turn the experts’ best solutions in to failure.

In “A Better Approach to Eldercare”, Linda and Kerry discussed using a comprehensive questionnaire to begin this conversation. This serves to help the client and family gather facts and information that will be needed to make informed decisions and gets information organized to spur the conversation (i.e. bring up “issues”). While a professional may not immediately address all the issues (or ever address them in his/her specialty specifically), having a broad sense of information guides the conversation, helps inform proper recommendations and points to issues that need to be addressed to make the whole puzzle work. It is also vital to understand what the client’s and family’s main concerns are. A good questionnaire and initial meeting help draw out these, often unspoken, concerns.

Some of the top concerns and issues elderly clients might have include:

  • Ability to stay at home
  • Costs to stay at home
  • Trying to keep children happy and not rock the boat
  • Refusing children’s care
  • Remaining the parent, even when ill
  • Loss of dignity
  • Not being a burden
  • Choosing the right people to name in their legal documents
  • Ensuring loved ones understand their wishes and recognize the boundaries

Some of the common family concerns (besides the major underlying thread, which is usually worry over Mom or Dad’s well-being and a desire to ensure it moving forward) we see in our work include:

  • Children concerned parent cannot afford desired choice
  • Children concerned regarding their potential need to help pay or provide for care
  • Family turmoil and breakdown over lack of direction by parent
  • Sometimes it comes down to one of the biggest decisions which is whether to spend all the money on any care needed or protect assets and choose Medicaid/public benefit options (particularly when long term planning was not done in advance).

With a proper understanding of these issues and a good conversation started, the professional can now share his/her expertise with the client and family to help them understand topics that need to be addressed and implications of different decisions/options. Check out our checklist of items to review during eldercare planning with the client and family, for more detail.

Coordinated eldercare planning centered around the client offers an approach which not only works, but helps all members of the client care team do a better job. The benefits of coordinated planning include:

  • Choices for the client and family (planning opens up more options)
  • Reduced suffering
  • Peace of mind
  • Maintaining dignity and independence
  • Bringing together the power of your circle of care (rather than dividing their strengths and potentially working at odds)

For more information on eldercare planning, contact us at 727-447-5845 and read our blog for regular updates and information. You can email us to receive our monthly Wise Words™ newsletter or to meet to talk further about coordinated eldercare planning for your loved one or client.

 

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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.