Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

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miamivice
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Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by miamivice »

This is intended to be a serious question. I don't know the etiquette of how best to handle it and think that my wife and I need to consider and think about it.

When our parents age, we sometimes encounter out of pocket expenses for things related to their medical care that we normally wouldn't have. We are fortunate that all of our parents are well off, but they got that way from saving rather than spending, so none of them are quick to write checks out. The types of expenses we have are for things like:

- parking at the hospital parking lot to visit them while they are there (relatively inexpensive)
- time away from work without pay (FMLA or the like) (relatively expensive)
- durable medical goods not covered by Medicare
- Gas spent driving them to medical appointments, hospitals, etc

Wondering how other families have handled this. Ultimately, we would probably assume the cost of all of this if they refused, because the parents need the things above.

Please, please, please keep this non-controversial if at all possible. I'm not looking for debate, just guidance as to how others have handled this situation.
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David Jay
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by David Jay »

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 (hers or mine) to reimburse us for these items.

They took care of us for 18+ years, now it's our turn.

[edit] I was not trying to be harsh, if the OP is in difficult financial straits and can't afford to, say, take time off from work then checking with well off parents is not unreasonable. But we always felt it was our pleasure to assist (3 of 4 parents have passed...)
Last edited by David Jay on Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
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daheld
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by daheld »

You should bill your parents for this as soon as they bill you for little league jerseys, childhood vacations and meals to feed your childhood friends during sleepovers.

This cannot be serious.
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

If you're looking at gas costs and a day here or there, you're only skimming the surface. A nursing home costs $10k-$15k a month. If a parent goes into one, the best case, for a good, "your choice" place is going to be that they are private pay for 2-3 years, then the facility accepts social security, pension and annuity payments for the rest of their days.

You will absolutely want a qualified elder attorney involved. We have a relative in the situation where they went into assisted living a couple years ago and has recently deteriorated to need nursing home care. The facilities ALWAYS want someone to accept financial responsibility, regardless of the agreement to accept whatever income the patient has. My wife is overseeing our relative's care and has been given the applications to move the relative into nursing home care and of course there's a financial responsibility section. She will NOT put herself in there. The attorney will handle this once the form is mostly filled out but just be aware that facilities are motivated to find someone to pay them more money.

On the inheritance side......don't focus on this at all. Too often, younger people think they're getting an inheritance and expect "someone else" will pay the cost of care for their parents. If the parent has money, a house and/or payments coming, they should be used for their own care. At least that's my opinion. We helped our relative sell her house and all that money will go to her care and we won't get a dime and don't expect one.
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Dottie57
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Dottie57 »

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.
+1000.
greenback
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by greenback »

daheld wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:34 am You should bill your parents for this as soon as they bill you for little league jerseys, childhood vacations and meals to feed your childhood friends during sleepovers.

This cannot be serious.
+1
You shouldn’t retire until your money starts making more money than you made in your best year.
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cheese_breath
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by cheese_breath »

daheld wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:34 am You should bill your parents for this as soon as they bill you for little league jerseys, childhood vacations and meals to feed your childhood friends during sleepovers.

This cannot be serious.
+1
As soon as you work off all the expenses they've incurred raising you, then you can start billing them.
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Sheepdog »

No comment!
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CurlyDave
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by CurlyDave »

Both of us wish that our parents were still alive so we could pay these costs to have them around.
Yooper
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Yooper »

Since you asked, this is my personal way. I don't sweat the little stuff - gas, parking, travel, meals when traveling, etc. The "durable medical goods not covered by Medicare", I haven't encountered yet. I guess if I did, I'd expect they'd get it. If not (and they had the financial means), I'd assume they feel they don't need it. Having said the above, I owe Mom and Dad more than I'll ever be able to repay (and I'm not being self righteous, it's just I gave them a lot of headaches and some heartaches growing up) that I'd do whatever I had to do. I think it's the circle of life and hopefully my kids will do the same for me. Whatever you decide, make sure it's something that you can close your eyes and sleep well at night. If it is, then you've done what's right for you.
Big Dog
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Big Dog »

CurlyDave wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:40 am Both of us wish that our parents were still alive so we could pay these costs to have them around.
+1


btw: if 'rents are well off, make sure that they purchase a high option Medigap policy, i.e., F (if born before Jan 2-54) or G, or full Medicare Advantage plan, so that their out-of-pocket expenses are limited.
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by HueyLD »

miamivice wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:25 am This is intended to be a serious question. I don't know the etiquette of how best to handle it and think that my wife and I need to consider and think about it.

When our parents age, we sometimes encounter out of pocket expenses for things related to their medical care that we normally wouldn't have. We are fortunate that all of our parents are well off, but they got that way from saving rather than spending, so none of them are quick to write checks out. The types of expenses we have are for things like:

- parking at the hospital parking lot to visit them while they are there (relatively inexpensive)
- time away from work without pay (FMLA or the like) (relatively expensive)
- durable medical goods not covered by Medicare
- Gas spent driving them to medical appointments, hospitals, etc

Wondering how other families have handled this. Ultimately, we would probably assume the cost of all of this if they refused, because the parents need the things above.

Please, please, please keep this non-controversial if at all possible. I'm not looking for debate, just guidance as to how others have handled this situation.
Is this a joke? When my parents were alive, I was more than happy to incur those expenses just to have their company.

Your parents need TLC, not nickels and dimes from their children.
Colorado13
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Colorado13 »

I'm sorry to read that your parents are experiencing medical challenges. Do you provide support that would entitle you to claim them as dependents on your income taxes? That approach could provide you with financial support.

We children paid for medical and related expenses for gas, food, meds etc. needed to care for parents without an expectation of reimbursement. Parents supported me through college and I earn enough to cover their expenses so they could focus on their health. I accepted reimbursement for one flight (out of many) however, related to emergency medical care.

Your questions are very family dependent. What works for one family may not work for another family. Can you afford the expenses you mentioned? If not, a family conversation is likely needed. If you can afford the expenses, you may want to help out your parents and be thankful for your ability to do so ( or not... It's really your decision.) Be thankful for the time you have with them.

If they have resources, which you indicate is the case, will you inherit anything when they pass? If so, you could consider that inheritance as your reimbursement.
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by stan1 »

Families function best when they communicate with each other. Share your concerns with parents and siblings if you and your spouse feel these issues are justified. If your spouse disagrees with you, well that's part of being in a relationship: sometimes one person is wrong and a second person should be listened to.
RTF
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by RTF »

greenback wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:35 am
daheld wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:34 am You should bill your parents for this as soon as they bill you for little league jerseys, childhood vacations and meals to feed your childhood friends during sleepovers.

This cannot be serious.
+1
[/quote

This can’t be serious. But if it is, no, I wouldn’t expect my parents to validate my parking when they’re ill at the hospital when I visit them. I also don’t expect them to pay my salary when I take off work to be able to help them either.
Last edited by RTF on Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
Colorado13
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Colorado13 »

CurlyDave wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:40 am Both of us wish that our parents were still alive so we could pay these costs to have them around.
+1000!!!!
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ClevrChico
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by ClevrChico »

They pay the medical bills, you pay for the travel expenses.

I did put my foot down when a parent expected me to take time off work for airport shuttling every other month for their vacations. Time off work (when I had limited vacation), gas, and parking cost really added up. (They didn't want to pay the $50 for a taxi or parking. :oops: )
sd323232
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by sd323232 »

OP, when you get old and your kid drives you to doctor because you physically will not be able to, and your kid will ask you to get reimbursed for gas and time, did you save enough for that?

I am being serious here.
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by pasadena »

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 (hers or mine) to reimburse us for these items.

They took care of us for 18+ years, now it's our turn.

[edit] I was not trying to be harsh, if the OP is in difficult financial straits and can't afford to, say, take time off from work then checking with well off parents is not unreasonable. But we always felt it was our pleasure to assist (3 of 4 parents have passed...)
+1

Obviously this is assuming OP can afford it. My parents are overseas and if they needed me, I would buy a round-trip flight ticket tomorrow and never think of asking them to reimburse me.

These are all small stuff. Taking a day off to drive your parents to the hospital is the only thing that stands out here. If that is a problem because it's happening too frequently and may cause issues at work, then by all means find a better solution that would work for everybody.
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miamivice
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by miamivice »

sd323232 wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:57 am OP, when you get old and your kid drives you to doctor because you physically will not be able to, and your kid will ask you to get reimbursed for gas and time, did you save enough for that?

I am being serious here.
Yes. I would expect that I would pay for my kid's out of pocket expenses that he incurs in helping with my care. I would expect his time would be free, but I would gladly pay for his gas, etc, rather than have to pay a home health worker to take me to the doctors office.

And yes, if I asked him frequently enough that he went without pay at work, i would realize that he has a mortgage and other expenses, and I would have to reimburse him for his time away from work so he could pay his bills. I probably wouldn't ask him to take me that often because I know that taking that much time away from work would hurt his career performance.
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Katietsu »

I think this is a real question. If you had not included parking for hospital visits, you might have gotten different responses.

I think a lot of this is going to depend on specific circumstances. I would and have not hesitated to pay for things listed. But, then, by the time our parents were in that situation, we were financially secure and the expenses we encountered would not/did not have a noticeable effect on our finances.

But we did have situations that were handled differently. For instance, one sibling had small children and was living paycheck to paycheck. Dad had a condition requiring 3X a week transportation for a couple of months. The financially strapped sibling was most able to provide transportation at hours needed. Rest of us had no problem with Dad reimbursing gas cost. The $200 a month was huge deal and the rest of were grateful for the time commitment.


For me, some of the factors include:
-If the adult child can not afford the extra expense but the parent or other siblings can, then reimburse the child.
-If one adult child is putting in a significant amount of the time commitment, it is reasonable that they do not also need to shoulder a significant part of the financial commitment.
-If the cost is large, such as 12 weeks of unpaid leave, a well off parent should at least offer some financial assistance, IMO.
-Most frustrating can be parents (or worse, neighbors) who have the funds but refuse to spend them on items clearly needed for safety. I think there is no single answer as to how to remedy this.
Last edited by Katietsu on Fri Nov 13, 2020 11:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
pr3sg1ad
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by pr3sg1ad »

daheld wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:34 am You should bill your parents for this as soon as they bill you for little league jerseys, childhood vacations and meals to feed your childhood friends during sleepovers.

This cannot be serious.
Yeah, no way this is a serious question.
epargnant
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by epargnant »

I don’t think the gas & parking fees are worth worrying about unless you are counting pennies at the grocery store (which some people are).

For the medical equipment, same thing unless it got to be expensive like a recliner, wheelchair, or stair lift. But with larger items your parents would be involved in the decision & would naturally pay I think. For walkers, bath seats, etc.., they aren’t very expensive & may be the type of thing they would want not want to buy, but if it’s there in the house they would use it. Your money well spent.

For FMLA, I think you should discuss this with your parents, especially if it’s a great financial hardship. But the definition of “financial hardship” varies greatly with the person and many bogleheads are much more conservative than I am.

If you don’t want to bring it up, or they tell you they don’t need you to take time off (but you really do for their health & well being), then I think this would be a good use of emergency fund money, and worth delaying retirement or being more frugal in other areas, so you can be satisfied you did right by your parents.
Dottie57
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Dottie57 »

Colorado13 wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:53 am
CurlyDave wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:40 am Both of us wish that our parents were still alive so we could pay these costs to have them around.
+1000!!!!
Me too. I miss them both so much.
6bquick
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by 6bquick »

Awful lot of judgement in this thread. I'm guessing that's because the BH demographic is likely closer to OP's parents than OP.

I tend to agree with all the judgy responses; it's sort of your kid-ly duty. But, I'm early 30's, trying to establish my financial future, and this could be a grey area both in terms of expectations and possible outlay.

I think asking questions like this are perfectly legitimate and dismissing them summarily is uncalled for.

Unfortunately, I don't have any advice, OP, other than to say don't stop asking questions that may be deemed unpopular.
OnTrack2020
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by OnTrack2020 »

miamivice wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:25 am This is intended to be a serious question. I don't know the etiquette of how best to handle it and think that my wife and I need to consider and think about it.

When our parents age, we sometimes encounter out of pocket expenses for things related to their medical care that we normally wouldn't have. We are fortunate that all of our parents are well off, but they got that way from saving rather than spending, so none of them are quick to write checks out. The types of expenses we have are for things like:

- parking at the hospital parking lot to visit them while they are there (relatively inexpensive)
- time away from work without pay (FMLA or the like) (relatively expensive)
- durable medical goods not covered by Medicare
- Gas spent driving them to medical appointments, hospitals, etc

Wondering how other families have handled this. Ultimately, we would probably assume the cost of all of this if they refused, because the parents need the things above.

Please, please, please keep this non-controversial if at all possible. I'm not looking for debate, just guidance as to how others have handled this situation.
When both my parents were ill, either in a hospital or nursing home, this was my experience.

1. Parking at the hospital parking lot--I/we paid
2. Time away from work--did not apply as I was already at home
3. Any durable medical goods--my parents paid for whether it was covered by their insurance or not.
4. Gas--I/we paid for. If either parent is in a nursing home, let nursing home transport them.
cs412a
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by cs412a »

Katietsu wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 11:06 am I think this is a real question. If you had not included parking for hospital visits, you might have gotten different responses.

I think a lot of this is going to depend on specific circumstances. I would and have not hesitated to pay for things listed. But, then, by the time our parents were in that situation, we were financially secure and the expenses we encountered would not/did not have a noticeable effect on our finances.

But we did have situations that were handled differently. For instance, one sibling had small children and was living paycheck to paycheck. Dad had a condition requiring 3X a week transportation for a couple of months. The financially strapped sibling was most able to provide transportation at hours needed. Rest of us had no problem with Dad reimbursing gas cost. The $200 a month was huge deal and the rest of were grateful for the time commitment.

For me, some of the factors include:
-If the adult child can not afford the extra expense but the parent or other siblings can, then reimburse the child.
-If one adult child is putting in a significant amount of the time commitment, it is reasonable that they do not also need to shoulder a significant part of the financial commitment.
-If the cost is large, such as 12 weeks of unpaid leave, a well off parent should at least offer some financial assistance, IMO.
-Most frustrating can be parents (or worse, neighbors) who have the funds but refuse to spend them on items clearly needed for safety. I think there is no single answer as to how to remedy this.
+1
chw
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by chw »

The only way I see you possibly being asked to defray the costs outlined, is perhaps if you were perhaps providing day to day care for a long period of time, and perhaps had to leave a job due to this.

If what you describes is just periodic, I don’t see why you can’t foot the costs outlined. If it’s a burden, just don’t incur the costs and let your parents figure out other ways to provide care. The only cost I would ask your parents to pay for would be costly durable medical equipment.
Last edited by chw on Fri Nov 13, 2020 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
TheCowbell
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by TheCowbell »

Very disappointing to see this kind of ganging up on someone that obviously has a legitimate concern.

Sorry OP, I understand the crux of your question but don't have any good advice because I'm not there yet.

However, I am the only local child of several children that all live thousands of miles away so I imagine I'll be the one to be taking on random medical expenses when the time comes. During the holidays, birthdays, we often agree on a big present and since I'm usually the one delivering or installing said present we use venmo to divvy up the cost and reimburse me. I imagine it will be similarly done for any expenses of note. Maybe a monthly "Hey my total costs taking care of mom was $600, please shoot me $150!" ... keep it loose and casual, I don't anticipate any issues.

Good luck, and sorry you're getting so much self-righteousness from members that should know better.
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by 1210sda »

cheese_breath wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:38 am
daheld wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:34 am You should bill your parents for this as soon as they bill you for little league jerseys, childhood vacations and meals to feed your childhood friends during sleepovers.

This cannot be serious.
+1
As soon as you work off all the expenses they've incurred raising you, then you can start billing them.
+1
sailaway
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by sailaway »

The one item I would definitely insist that they pay is their own durable goods.

My parents would likely reimburse us for gas and parking; his would not. This does not reflect their financial status, just their personalities. And we would flow with what is offered.

If you can't afford the time off, most places have services that will provide transportation, often for free. Elsewise, Uber/Lyft or even a taxi would be cheaper than taking a day off work.
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Artful Dodger
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Artful Dodger »

OnTrack2020 wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 11:18 am
miamivice wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:25 am This is intended to be a serious question. I don't know the etiquette of how best to handle it and think that my wife and I need to consider and think about it.

When our parents age, we sometimes encounter out of pocket expenses for things related to their medical care that we normally wouldn't have. We are fortunate that all of our parents are well off, but they got that way from saving rather than spending, so none of them are quick to write checks out. The types of expenses we have are for things like:

- parking at the hospital parking lot to visit them while they are there (relatively inexpensive)
- time away from work without pay (FMLA or the like) (relatively expensive)
- durable medical goods not covered by Medicare
- Gas spent driving them to medical appointments, hospitals, etc

Wondering how other families have handled this. Ultimately, we would probably assume the cost of all of this if they refused, because the parents need the things above.

Please, please, please keep this non-controversial if at all possible. I'm not looking for debate, just guidance as to how others have handled this situation.
When both my parents were ill, either in a hospital or nursing home, this was my experience.

1. Parking at the hospital parking lot--I/we paid
2. Time away from work--did not apply as I was already at home
3. Any durable medical goods--my parents paid for whether it was covered by their insurance or not.
4. Gas--I/we paid for. If either parent is in a nursing home, let nursing home transport them.
I pretty much agree with this. 1,2 & 4 were always on us. Never would have occurred to me to think otherwise. To be fair neither of us incurred lost wages - both had flexible jobs.

I took my dad on numerous appointments during the last year of his life. Bittersweet, but glad I spent the time with him.

Regarding durable medical goods, both our parents covered just like they would have paid deductibles, copays, insurance premiums, etc.
TheDDC
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by TheDDC »

This is a serious question. Medical costs of self and others are budgetary items and, as such, must be viewed responsibly and with cost/efficiency in mind. I was faced with this situation last year, pre-Covid (thankfully).

We paid travel costs - luckily the hospital that we had my loved one moved to (due to incompetence at local) was near my in laws, so we stayed overnight there several weekends. The only thing out of pocket was parking at the hospital parking area which had better pricing than parking elsewhere in town.

As for paying for time away from work, I was able to do most everything when I was not working or I slipped away for lunch time visits when my loved one was at a nearby hospital. Do you have sufficient PTO? We also have special PTO days for family illness that I tapped into as well, but I still had plenty of vacation days left over. What you are talking about sounds like someone who needs 24/7 care. My loved one ended up succumbing to the medical-industrial complex and handing over much in the way of funds to said MCI, which in turn took care of her (mostly) for the time she was at a nursing facility.

As for durable medical expenses? That's on them. They should have these funds available for their own care. That's a health care cost that should be picked up by insurance and/or their own private funds. I helped my loved one manage their expenses during their last year or so which was never a problem.

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

Post by egrets »

CurlyDave wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:40 am Both of us wish that our parents were still alive so we could pay these costs to have them around.
+1...
DetroitRick
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by DetroitRick »

We've been through this 4 times, and are still going through it with the last parent. It's complicated, so forgive me for not just giving a short snarky answer.

At least three big factors enter in to this - cultural norms for your family, wealth, and personal capability. Any of these could RADICALLY change how you handle this and it's totally individual. In our case, both sets of parents and us were middle class.

Small stuff, medical or otherwise (your parking example and such), we just ate it/eat it. Both sets of parents were very tuned into this though, and minimized impact without being asked. But on this category, we really didn't and don't care.

Purchases made at their request and on their behalf. Medical or otherwise, they pay or reimburse. This is specifically stuff like "can you order me a new mattress" (parent is now bed bound) or "can you arrange for this service". This we do all the time. Communication was key to it never presenting a problem for us.

Time. Here is where it gets most complicated, in our experience. Generally, no, we don't attempt to recoup. This is also highly dependent on your relationships. I can think of alternative situations where I might feel no or little obligation. But in all of ours, we did. So, we've chosen never to raise this issue, except once or twice for very specific requests (over several decades).

When my father was in his final months (and located somewhat near me), and I spent enormous amounts of time with his cancer-related issues, I was able to shift my work without direct impact (my employer was most understanding and the international nature of my job provided lots of time flexibility and I had a great assistant). Then, during my mom's last years, I declined a transfer and promotion to help out. To me, it was just part of life, and the loving thing to do (but a very difficult choice, believe me).

Now with wife's parents, roughly similar - but wife is working part time and I'm retired - so not such a huge deal. They are out-of-state, so that adds/added complications. There have been several times where wife's mom has had a very specific request for my wife to take time off to help out with a very specific request at a very specific time. As opposed to regular check-in trips or social visits. In only those times, there was lost wage reimbursement offered and accepted. But again, that was essentially in response to a very specific request. More importantly, I spend an enormous amount of time managing financial affairs (bills, cash flow, investments, taxes). My choice, their benefit, no compensation expected.

So you need to do what is right for you and appropriate to your particulars. And hopefully even the most sanctimonious of us can (hopefully) see how these answers might change if one party is rich and one poor, under certain extremes of familial relationships, etc. Lots to consider. I can at least say that, for what we've done over the years, it was overall very rewarding. Not that there weren't days where I ripped my hair out.... Best of luck.
Trader Joe
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Trader Joe »

miamivice wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:25 am This is intended to be a serious question. I don't know the etiquette of how best to handle it and think that my wife and I need to consider and think about it.

When our parents age, we sometimes encounter out of pocket expenses for things related to their medical care that we normally wouldn't have. We are fortunate that all of our parents are well off, but they got that way from saving rather than spending, so none of them are quick to write checks out. The types of expenses we have are for things like:

- parking at the hospital parking lot to visit them while they are there (relatively inexpensive)
- time away from work without pay (FMLA or the like) (relatively expensive)
- durable medical goods not covered by Medicare
- Gas spent driving them to medical appointments, hospitals, etc

Wondering how other families have handled this. Ultimately, we would probably assume the cost of all of this if they refused, because the parents need the things above.

Please, please, please keep this non-controversial if at all possible. I'm not looking for debate, just guidance as to how others have handled this situation.
I would never, ever consider billing my parents for any of this. This is wrong.
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8foot7
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by 8foot7 »

If your parents are well off, they should be offering to cover these expenses and you should politely decline.

I would let the little stuff go. The “durable medical goods” — I would not be paying for my parents’ actual medical supplies if they have savings. If they are paycheck to paycheck then I would happily do it.

I would go to them about the latter. Hey Mom and Dad, I love you very much and am glad I can help take care of you. I don’t mind helping you get back and forth to appointments and such but my family can’t afford to pay for your medical supplies right now. I just picked up this toilet and wheelchair for you. Here is the receipt. Can I help you file for reimbursement with insurance for some of this so you can pay me back for it?
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by BarbBrooklyn »

I am probably the minority opinion here, but I was brought up with the belief that parents shouldn't cost their children money. To equate an adult child paying for end of life expenses for a parent is NOT like parents paying for soccer jerseys. Parents choose to have children.

If you lay out money for durable medical equipment, you should of course be reimbursed. Paying for parking while visiting in the hospital, gas, meals on the road? Unless you are hard up, I would just budget for that.

Time off is sticky. I did not and would not provide home care for my parents. Not what my training was in and I could ill afford to take time off as I worked for a school system and had a mortgage to pay. Spent LOTS of lunch hours on the phone with docs, dentists, facilities, etc.

Caregivers should be hired if care is needed at home. If the "management " piece is what is becoming overwhelming, the parents need to hire a Geriatric Care Manager.

If the parents are assuming that the child is going to drop everything and care for them, there needs to be an open and honest discussion of what you are and aren't willing to do. www.agingcare.com is a good website for venting/asking queations and getting support as your parents age.
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FeesR-BullNotBullish
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by FeesR-BullNotBullish »

I am sorry your parents are experiencing these difficulties, but I'll cop to laughing out loud reading this thread. Maybe we live in different paradigms, but to me it seems absurd to consider asking for reimbursement. Being there for others is important, and these expenses are just part of living. If the costs create a legit hardship for you, then I would have a conversation with your parents. Hardship means missing a mortgage payment or skipping meals. To forgo maxing out your retirement contributions is not a hardship here.

EDIT to add - I re-read this thread, and this is more nuanced than I initially realized. Your parents should probably be paying for costs related directly to their care including the durable medical equipment. If your parents can't or won't foot the bills, then I'd do what I can to help. You might save money by looking at Craigslist or thrift stores.
Last edited by FeesR-BullNotBullish on Fri Nov 13, 2020 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
mgensler
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by mgensler »

If the expenses are high enough, you can claim it as a deduction on your taxes. As someone mentioned up-thread, you are just skimming the surface on expenses. We incurred six-figure expenses for end of life care in assisted living facilities. Our attorney recommended that we pay the expenses and then structure it as a forgivable loan to them. In that case, no deduction for us but they were able to deduct the expenses off their taxes.
neverpanic
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by neverpanic »

I respect being budget conscious, but don't audit life.
I am not a financial professional or guru. I'm a schmuck who got lucky 10 times. Such is the life of the trader.
London
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by London »

Not sure why you’re asking a message board. If you feel comfortable asking your parents for reimbursement, go ahead. I would never do that but to each their own.
InMyDreams
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by InMyDreams »

I am fortunate that my father has been conscientious about expenses incurred on his behalf.

Durable medical goods? Yes, reimburse.
Driving and parking costs? Nothing expected, but my father used to buy a tank of gas every so often.
Time off from work? Ah. A few hours, occasionally, I didn't expect it. I did have a co-worker who took her full FMLA leave to care for her father, and thereafter worked part time to keep benefits and seniority but otherwise took care of him - yes, she was paid by him for the time that she lost from work.

Family circumstances vary, family norms vary. Best of luck navigating these challenges.
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miamivice
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by miamivice »

London wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 12:12 pm Not sure why you’re asking a message board. If you feel comfortable asking your parents for reimbursement, go ahead. I would never do that but to each their own.
It's always nice to have a proposal and know a request is reasonable before a conversation is had.
Silverado
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Silverado »

BarbBrooklyn wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 11:52 am I am probably the minority opinion here, but I was brought up with the belief that parents shouldn't cost their children money. To equate an adult child paying for end of life expenses for a parent is NOT like parents paying for soccer jerseys. Parents choose to have children.

If you lay out money for durable medical equipment, you should of course be reimbursed. Paying for parking while visiting in the hospital, gas, meals on the road? Unless you are hard up, I would just budget for that.

Time off is sticky. I did not and would not provide home care for my parents. Not what my training was in and I could ill afford to take time off as I worked for a school system and had a mortgage to pay. Spent LOTS of lunch hours on the phone with docs, dentists, facilities, etc.

Caregivers should be hired if care is needed at home. If the "management " piece is what is becoming overwhelming, the parents need to hire a Geriatric Care Manager.

If the parents are assuming that the child is going to drop everything and care for them, there needs to be an open and honest discussion of what you are and aren't willing to do. www.agingcare.com is a good website for venting/asking queations and getting support as your parents age.
I like this view. Sounds like a lot of folks are expecting help from their kids...
Gnirk
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Gnirk »

I can see where this would be a legitimate question, particularly if the parents are well-off but unwilling to spend on medical equipment, and the son/daughter are not well off or it's a hardhip on them to take time off to drive their parents t/from hospital or doctor appointments. If so, then other arrangements should be made for the parent's transportation at the parent's expense, and medical equipment should be paid by the parents.

I was lucky that we had our own business so that I could easily take time off when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She lived 2 hours away, including a ferry ride. (not inexpensive). I was also lucky that she had been frugal all of her life, so that she was able to cover any of HER expenses. I didn't ask for reimbursement for time off, ferry fare, gas expenses etc because I could afford it and for me, taking time off was not a hardship.

This may not be the case for the OP.
Last edited by Gnirk on Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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VictoriaF
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by VictoriaF »

miamivice wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 12:15 pm
London wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 12:12 pm Not sure why you’re asking a message board. If you feel comfortable asking your parents for reimbursement, go ahead. I would never do that but to each their own.
It's always nice to have a proposal and know a request is reasonable before a conversation is had.
You wrote that your parents are well off. Are you and your wife well off? If yes, then you should continue paying AND getting getting insurance reimbursement where you can.

If your family is not well off, ask your parents for help. Not for a reimbursement but for help. Explain that you have more expenses related to their care and less income related to missing work to provide their care. But explain it in general terms, not as a request for reimbursement.

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

Post by HomeStretch »

IME helping aging parents with medical expenses/dr visits is just the tip of the iceberg. Luckily, spouse and my parents are frugal and have (limited) savings that should be sufficient to cover their medical and other expenses in excess of retirement income. If not, we will assist them financially to a greater degree.

We assist our 4 parents (in their 80s) with driving to doctor appointments, household chores, etc. We don’t ask for compensation for time or reimbursement for gas or parking. We are lucky that our children, siblings and their children also help with chores/driving when possible. If they need help ordering durable medical goods not covered by Medicare, we do that but they pay.

Beyond medical, we also handle (at their request) as attorneys-in-fact their daily finances, investment and taxes. We also keep on top of RMDs, Medicare/insurance renewals, tax due dates, etc. We don’t ask for compensation for this. They pay any taxes due.

The biggest mindset we work on changing with our frugal parents is that these are not their low cost years if they want to continue living ‘independently’. We have had to set time limits on chores assistance as both mothers left unchecked would give us lists for 40+ hours per week help which is more than we can do (I usually spend about 10-12 hours per week helping my parents + it’s a 3 hour round trip). We encourage them to hire and pay for weekly cleaners and to hire out large handyman, plumbing, painting and electrical projects.
Last edited by HomeStretch on Fri Nov 13, 2020 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
London
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by London »

miamivice wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 12:15 pm
London wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 12:12 pm Not sure why you’re asking a message board. If you feel comfortable asking your parents for reimbursement, go ahead. I would never do that but to each their own.
It's always nice to have a proposal and know a request is reasonable before a conversation is had.
The vast majority of the responses here are against the proposal and you are still considering it. That said, no one here knows your family as well as you do.
Luckywon
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Re: Aging parents - who pays for expenses related to medical care

Post by Luckywon »

OP if there is a chance your parents will be offended or hurt if you ask for reimbursement you won't be able to undo that and in the long run I think that's something you'd regret.
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