How can I plan for supporting my mother until she's 65?

3 answers | Last updated: Aug 23, 2011
Csigel asked...

I am looking for a little guidance on what to do to start planning for the care of my mother. My mother is only 53 right now, but I am already financially supporting her by paying her rent and utilities. She is attempting to find a job, but has had little luck since she has little education, no drivers license, and a bum knee that causes her to walk with a limp. To put it bluntly, she is 53 going on 73 due to years of alcohol and general abuse to herself. She no longer drinks, but that does not reverse the bad shape she is in for her age. She is too young to qualify for medicaid or SS and it would appear to me that even if she manages to get a job soon, it will only be a delay to what is going to ultimatly happen, which is my sisters and I eventually supporting her. She has NO SAVINGS at all, and at this point no medical insurance, nothing. I need to start coming up with an action plan on how to start planning for her care as she ages. This could be a 20-25 year haul here. I make okay money, but I have a family of my own, and I DO NOT want to put my children into this very position, because I exhaust all my own resources caring for my mom. I really need to start making a plan on how to take care of my mother for the long haul without becoming a pauper myself. Moving her in with me is an absolute last resort....she has a very low tolerance for children, even her own grand kids, and frankly, she is a bear of a personality to live with and subject my husband and kids to on a permanent basis, so we must avoid that until it is the absolute last resort. That being said, I have to plan out how to take care of her if: she is not able to find employment she can do, or she becomes very ill, or if she simply ages to a point of not being able to be on her own any further. Where can I start to try and head this all off at the pass? All information of how to plan or what to think about or investigate is very welcome.

Community Answers

Jadacr answered...

wow im sorry to hear about your situation my mother in law has AD n is only in her 50's n we cannot find any help for her at all even though she was a nurse she quit working b 4 we realized she was having trouble so the quarters expired for her ss theres nothing i can find we r maxing out credit cards n Dad has doubled on the mortgages if you hear of anything please let me know. JadaCR

Ge mom answered...

Oh, boy. You have a tough situation.

I think the first thing to sort out is whether or not your mom actually has dementia (or another diagnosable mental or physical illness) that might qualify her for social security disability (if she has worked long enough) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (if not). (From what you say, I can't be sure.) So that would involve getting a release of information so you can talk with her doctor, if she has one, or getting her to a doctor for a physical exam and mental health evaluation. (No, I don't think this will be simple!)

Then step two, IF she actually has a very severe disability, would be to apply for Social Security and/or SSI. Also, along with this, you should apply for Medicaid and Food Stamp(SNAP) benefits. Then you should try to get her into subsidized housing, that will charge her on a sliding scale based on her income.

Step two, if she does NOT have dementia or another very severe disability, is to do some hard thinking about whether you want to be supporting her at all. At 53, she has plenty of years ahead of her to actually be working. But people (particularly those with alcohol problems) sometimes manipulate their family members into supporting them when it is in nobody's best interest to do so. Al-Anon, I have heard, can be very helpful to people like you.

If I was absolutely certain that there is no genuine physical or mental disability, I would probably tell my mom that I cannot support her, and she will have to make a plan to take care of HERSELF. (I do not underestimate how difficult this will be.)

I hope this is helpful to you.

Ge mom answered...

I just want to clarify my last paragraph, above. I would only tell her this if I was certain that she did NOT have dementia or another serious disability. If she actually does have dementia, that's a different situation.