Don’t Wait: The Tough Conversation You Need to Have Before It’s Too Late
Here’s a slap from the retirement world that could be in many of our futures.
This story comes from a hospice nurse friend who says the toughest part of the job is not the patients, it’s the families – most often a visiting child.
I’m not exaggerating one bit when I tell you the stories she tells are bordering on the macabre. So if you aren’t already sitting down, you might want to.
The son of an 80-plus-year-old couple came for a visit and realized the situation in the home had gone downhill tremendously.
The father was mentally nonresponsive, the mother was suffering from mild dementia, and they were flying through their money at a rate of $300,000 per year just for the father’s in-home caregivers. That was only a portion of the total cost of care.
The visiting child took one look at the situation and demanded that all life-sustaining medications and efforts be stopped.
His words were, “Let my father die.”
Now before you condemn the son as a greedy brat who only sees his inheritance flying out the window (that’s unfortunately very common), here’s his side of the situation…
How does he pay for his mother’s care – and she will definitely require long-term care – if the cost of his father’s in-home care eats up all the money? And that’s exactly what was happening.
But here’s where the mix really gets cloudy.
Anyone who knows anything about elder law knows even a son can’t just walk in and say, “Let my parent die.” It doesn’t happen that way. In most states, they call it manslaughter or worse.
Once you lose the ability to make your own decisions, if you don’t have something in writing, you’re out of luck. As in this case, the decisions will be made for you.
So the money continues to burn at an increasing rate. The mother slips further into dementia. And except for the fact that hospice provides only palliative care and comfort measures, nothing has changed as far as the father’s care.
As the population ages and the longevity bonus kicks in for boomers, this situation will become more and more common. We’re outliving our money, and most of us have made no provisions for our end-of-life plans other than just funeral arrangements.
The name of the game has to be “put it in writing.” No one wants their child to be in the position in which this son has found himself. And it doesn’t have to be this way.
Make all your final plans now, and put them in writing.