Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by JBTX »

galawdawg wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 5:14 pm I would gladly sacrifice my hard-earned wealth to still be able to talk with and spend time with my Mom, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's before she even retired. As it was, I spent many thousands on airline flights, rental cars, and other travel expenses just to be with her as often as possible, even during the last eight years of her life when she was no longer able to recognize me or communicate. Every minute I spent with her was precious and priceless.

Gas money for driving them to medical appointments? Parking fee when visiting them at the hospital??? Taking time off work????

Sorry OP, but you have got to be kidding.

But then again, considering you previously asked "Should I raid my kids college fund to buy a new computer" and posted the following financials, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
Our financial situation is as follows:

- $850,000 in retirement
- $350,000 in vacant land equity (separate of primary home)
- $450,000 in non-retirement funds
- $190,000 in 529s
- $400,000 in equity of primary home
- $18,000 in HSA
- ($117,000) HELOC loan
Perhaps you can hire an attorney who can prepare and send the appropriate bill to your parents for your gas, parking fees and time and if they don't pay, sue them for you. :annoyed

Seriously, help your parents if they need assistance navigating insurance issues with durable medical equipment. And if your parents regularly need the level of care that requires you to take so much time off work that will exhaust all paid leave, perhaps you can assist them with looking into having a home health care aide as needed.

My apologies if my reply appears unduly harsh and I intend no disrespect, but sometimes I cannot help but to be direct and honest.

As a Gator, I try to avoid agreeing with Dawgs, but I'm with you on this one.
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by JHU ALmuni »

Dottie57 wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:35 am
David Jay wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:31 am
miamivice wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:25 amUltimately, we would probably assume the cost of all of this if they refused...
Honestly, neither one of us would ever have even thought about asking our parents to reimburse us for these items.

They took care of us for 18+ years, now it's our turn.
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by TN_Boy »

Afty wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 7:37 pm
AerialWombat wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:34 pm
Afty wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 5:34 pm I would have argued for around-the-clock in-home care regardless of the cost. I would pay the cost myself if she didn't want to.
Do you happen to know how the cost of this compares to nursing home care?
I don't recall, only that it was very expensive. I'm probably suffering from some hindsight bias here -- she was only in this type of care for a few weeks before she went further downhill and required hospitalization.
Basic companion/personal care/home health services are going to be $21 to $25 per hour in my MCOL area. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. More for holidays. This is generally more expensive than a skilled nursing facility (in my area). And that buys you no real nursing. That's with an agency, which usually can provide a backup if the scheduled person can't make it. If the patient needs skilled services at home, that will cost additional money (though hospice might cover some of those medical services if the patient has reached that point). Anyway, 24 hour in home care plus other related medical expenses can easily get near or over a quarter of a million dollars a year. That's real money unless you are pretty wealthy.

For some people, staying at a residence is simply not an option.

I don't know why the OP is getting flack for asking if his parents, who apparently can afford it, should pay for needed medical equipment. If the parents can afford it, why shouldn't they pay for it? I pay my bills if I can.

The question about taking time off is a complex one. And it's not just about the immediate salary lost. Long absences could damage a career.

On the other hand, no I wouldn't expect parents to pay for gas money, parking, etc.

I will agree with some posters who have been there, done that. Aging parents often do not understand the burden they are placing on their children -- refusing to take needed help from anyone else for example. Often I think there is a touch of dementia involved. And perhaps forgetting that the child has other obligations (to spouse, their children, a job ...).
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by TSPballer »

I didn't read the entire thread, only wanted to stop in and say that I sincerely hope OP took some time to reconsider this "dilemma" after posting.

These are your parents...parking and time away from work fees?
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Adfmacro »

I would not want to charge my parents for being nice and loving to them. It would create doubt of my motivation.

I do not know how the durable medical equipment comes in. Wouldn’t that be billed to them? Are they demanding you pay so that they can avoid spending their own money? Do they not want the equipment, but you want them to have it for their own good? If you want them to have it, them you might consider gifting the item to them. If they are getting it and Medicare is not paying for it, why would you be involved?

If long term care in your home becomes an option, they may want to offer to pay expenses. If your home is not suitable and the best option is for them to sell their home and you sell yours to buy a separate home, you might work out some arrangement that works for everyone.

My wife and I are in our 60s and all four of our parents are still living, but we have custody of 3 grandkids. I do not know what we would do if we needed to care for a parent in our home. My plan is not to retire for a while, but if I had to do so to help with finding a solution, I would not bill our parents for it. I might be tempted to send my brother-in-law a bill though, but only slightly tempted.

Your parents may feel the need to preserve the inheritance. Tell them that it is a wonderful thought, but there is no obligation for them to do so.
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by BarbBrooklyn »

Reading all of the responses, it seems that there are two camps here.

One believes that we "owe" our parents for raising and supporting us and one posits that the obligation is on parents to support children to adulthood and self-supporting status. Once adults, they pay that "debt" by supporting their own families.

This appears to me to be more of a "which camp were you raised in" issue.
BarbBrooklyn | "The enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan."
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by galawdawg »

I suspect that many of those who responded fall somewhere in the middle. IMHO, part of being a compassionate and caring family member is helping your parents, children, siblings, etc. when they are in need. That usually doesn't require an "all or nothing" approach where one either supports the person to the sacrifice of their own family and finances or does nothing and considers their only obligation to be to their own nuclear family (spouse and children).

For example, in some cases it is important to help parents navigate challenges that they face as they age, such as providing guidance with insurance benefits and claims, helping them make decisions that are unique to seniors, and in some cases taking on some responsibility for coordinating services and care when the parent is unable for cognitive or health reasons to do so themselves. It doesn't need to be "sink or swim." I recognize that sometimes relationships are estranged and that is an issue beyond the scope of this topic. But if adult children generally are unwilling to do that for their parents, who will? Some will go to great lengths to provide for their parents financially, including buying or remodeling homes to enable a parent to live with them or funding their skilled nursing care. Others prefer to provide support and assistance in ways that do not require financial sacrifice. Either approach is reasonable and a personal decision.

In this case, we don't know where the OP and his parents fall in that spectrum. OP hasn't shared that information, OP says this is purely a "financial issue" concerning paying for gas, parking, time away from work and DME. So I am not surprised that the responses here have been polarized. If this in fact a financial issue and OP had inquired instead "how do I help my parents coordinate DME and home health care with their insurance provider" and "are there ways to help my parents minimize the financial costs of their health care needs", I don't believe he would have received any negative feedback whatsoever. Instead, he asked about getting reimbursed for de minimis gas and parking expenses when he visits his parent in the hospital...
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by gd »

Haven't carefully read all 2+ pages of posts made within 24 hours, but in my case we got CC numbers or card itself when parent was in hospital, power of attorney on all relevant accounts, and have an ongoing campaign to handle bills, more with each medical issue. Durable medical expenses and specific direct fees for care are put on card or charged to bank account. Time and personal expenses we swallow. If I had a parking fee while taking parent to medical appointment and an easy way to have them pay it (e.g. their CC in hand), they'd pay it. Visiting them in hospital or no easy way to directly charge to them, I'd shrug it off and pay it. As the burden and disruption increases, we tilt towards paying for services-- professional transport to medical appointments is a good example. That all gets charged to parent's accounts, as long as they can afford it. It's constantly changing.

There have also been a lot of smaller fees-- e.g. subscriptions to entertainment or phone service-- that we assumed initially for convenience during disruptive and stressful changes, and have quietly shifted back to parent as our lives get ever more subsumed by the situation.

My personal opinion is to push to assume as much control as possible as early as possible, when it can be done more easily and gracefully, and get the person accustomed to the change before cognitive issues come into play. It's frustrating to clutter and degrade our lives by assuming more obligations than is strictly necessary at the moment, but these situations can go bad quickly. This gives you more flexibility in decisions on who pays what, as you don't have to ask them for reimbursement.

Side comment, everyone's family circumstances are different, everyone has a different upbringing and relationship with their parents and children, and even every child & parent within a family is different. People whose parents died young may feel like they have a hole in their life they wish was not there, but others have their life and old age buried to destruction in an avalanche of responsibility, then guilt when people who have no understanding of this dump on them. First rule of elder care: take care of yourself first. My personal second rule: if the person judging me doesn't have personal credibility in a similar situation, shrug them off.

Edit: above is probably too subtle. tl;dr version: Sometimes it just helps you keep your sanity a little to have someone pay a $10 parking fee after you just gave up a week of your life for them.

Very side comment: there was a stereotypical character in old fashioned (maybe mostly European) culture-- the old maid who had given up her life to care for her parents. I have modest exposure to such a traditional culture, and it was/is real, and... undesirable. One of George Orwell's underappreciated novels was "A Clergyman's Daughter", to that theme.
Last edited by gd on Sat Nov 14, 2020 7:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by makingmistakes »

Silverado wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:13 pm
galawdawg wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:07 pm
BarbBrooklyn wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 5:33 pm I seem to recall that the OP was unemployed for at least a few months earlier this year. This could certainly color his outlook, especially if he has more than one child approaching college and is himself approaching retirement. If he has no pension, and lives in a HCOL area, his retirement resources do not look particularly impressive. The fact that his parents HAVE to funds to pay for their medical needs but seem to expect him to do it would be irksome to me.
I don't recall seeing anything from OP about a period of unemployment this year, but perhaps i missed it. OP is a regular poster and I have read quite a few of his previous threads. I have seen that OP posted in another thread that "I expect to have an AGI of around $180,000 this year, give or take" and was looking for ways to get a larger stimulus payment from the taxpayer than he was otherwise due. I know that he has posted before that he was considering purchasing another piece of land listed for about $400k, that he lives in Florida, that he and his wife each have a pension accruing and that retirement is about twenty or so years away when he anticipates having in the range of $5 million to $10 million saved for retirement.

I also didn't see OP say that his parents expect him to pay for their medical needs. The closest I believe he came to that was to say that "none of them are quick to write checks out." His thread didn't inquire "How do I help my parents navigate insurance benefits for DME and health care", it was "Who pays" and then inquires about gas, parking fees, time off of work and DME.

But the fact that he is asking about having his parents pay for his parking fees and gas when he visits them when they are hospitalized...there is a fine line between thrift and greed. Jack Bogle said his one regret about money was that he didn't have MORE to GIVE AWAY! And then we have this...

But, to each his own. We Bogleheads are certainly a diverse and interesting group of people with a wide variety of viewpoints! :beer
We get it, you judge OP harshly. Enough with the rudeness.
I’m with you galawdawg. Someone with 2M net worth asking about repayment of parking fees to visit a parent in the hospital needs to be called out.
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Flyer24 »

Topic has been exhausted. Thread has run its course (family issues).