Do You Plan to Take Care of Your Parents When They Are Older?

by TTMK on January 30, 2014 · 12 comments

The following post is from staff writer Melissa Batai

When my aunt’s mother, Ida, reached her nineties, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Though Ida had four kids, it was my aunt who moved Ida in with her family and cared for her for two years until she passed away.  While another sibling did help, the other two did not.  My aunt provided at least 90% of her mother’s care.

Those were a difficult two years for my aunt, but she still talks with pride about caring for her mother.  She doesn’t regret the time she spent caring for her mother.  In fact, she felt it was her duty after all her mother had done for her.

What about you?  Do you plan to take care of your parents when they’re older?

The American Perspective of Taking Care of Parents When They’re Older

In the American society, where we are concerned with autonomy and independence, not many of us care for the elderly.  That could be because we’re busy with our own lives and careers or because we’re uncomfortable caring for our older relatives.  Many also dislike having their lives inconvenienced.

Of course, some elderly who have Alzheimer’s can be particularly difficult to care for, especially if they get violent.  More and more people rely on nursing homes to care for their elderly relatives in their last years.

Responsibilities in Other Countries

In other countries, taking care of older parents is an obligation.

My husband is from Japan.   He is the oldest child and the only son.  His parents just assumed that he would care for them in their old age, as the majority of Japanese in his parents’ generation assume about their oldest children.  But then my husband moved to the United States, and we got married a few years later.  We have no intentions of ever living in Japan.

His younger sister and her husband took over the obligation of caring for my husband’s parents.  (His parents are only in their 60s now, so they don’t need care yet.  However, his sister built her house right next to theirs because she’ll be caring for them later in life.)

Because my husband shirked his duty in his parents’ eyes, he lost the chance of receiving any inheritance from his parents.  It will all go to his sister, which he’s fine with.  He would rather have the freedom to live his life where he chooses instead of being saddled down in his small hometown.

Many other countries also believe that it is the child’s duty to care for elderly parents including some countries in South America and other Asian countries.  While some adult children gladly accept this responsibility, others, like my husband, find it an uncomfortable obligation.

My Questions for You

If you still have parents that are living, do you plan to care for them when they are no longer able to care for themselves?  If so, how do you see yourself caring for them?  By helping out with the nursing home bill?  By taking them into your house and physically caring for them?  If you have children, would you like them to care for you when you’re older?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle @fitisthenewpoor January 30, 2014 at 11:49 am

My mom is perm. disabled at 54 so we have had to face this a bit earlier than I had hoped. While she is mostly independent, I anticipate taking care of her within the next 10-15 years. My brother and sister will most likely not contribute to the financial or physical care.

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TTMK February 4, 2014 at 1:19 am

This is the part of growing up that I really never gave much thought when much younger. But, we have to be there to help – and can take notes for our own situation when it’s our turn.

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Shane @ Financial Debauchery January 30, 2014 at 12:03 pm

It might be uncomfortable or an inconvenience but it sure will not be forever. It’s the least I can do in return for the care and support they have provided me growing up. I might not be able to care for them 24/7, which means relying and paying for home care, but at least I’ll swear by letting them feel my presence, even if it’s only every once in awhile. Putting myself in their shoes, I sure don’t want to leave the world feeling alone and lonely.

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TTMK February 4, 2014 at 1:18 am

Your last sentence says it so well, what a great way to put it.

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Kathy January 30, 2014 at 12:33 pm

My mom is living in an assisted living facility due to a health crisis last year. I am helping with her finances, bills etc. but long ago she said she didn’t want to live with any of her children and I’m fine with that. I know some people think this is cruel, but it just wouldn’t work out for us to be together. My version of taking care of her is making sure she is in a safe and attractive place where her needs are met….even if I am not the one doing the actual work. My husband had to deal with both of his parents having Alzheimer’s and I have to say I admire anyone who is able to deal with that hideous disease. You are right that there often times is violence as the disease progresses and I think that often the family isn’t equipped to cope with this aspect. Especially if there are children still living at home, their safety must be considered above all else.

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TTMK February 4, 2014 at 1:17 am

Kathy – sorry about your Mom. It’s not fun seeing parents age, I know this. Very honorable that she doesn’t want to live with kids, though I don’t know from the comment if it’s because she prefers her own space. Regardless, ultimately as kids we want our parents to be safe and have needs met as you said.

As for both parents having Alzheimer’s that’s brutal. What a terrible condition that is, so hard for not only the patient but for the family member(s) doing the caregiving. Not to mention others seeing the loved one decline. It’s not like people in that state can fend for themselves, so it becomes a forced issue.

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Nick @ Step Away from the Mall January 30, 2014 at 12:33 pm

My parents are an interesting couple. They’re pretty secretive about their financial status, so I’m not really sure. My guess is I won’t have to, but if they need something I got their backs. I’m definitely going to open up the lines of communications slowly on this.

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TTMK February 4, 2014 at 1:13 am

Sometimes people can be reserved and close to the vest when it comes to discussing money. Easier discussions in some families than others, though if there is the feeling of having someone’s back and wanting to be there to help in need, that can help start the talks. Awesome that you’re able to be there for them.

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Cashville Skyline January 30, 2014 at 1:49 pm

I would absolutely take care of my parents if they needed it. It would likely have to be a compromise, though, as we don’t currently live in the same state. Many other families find a way to make it work, so I’m sure we would do the same. Hopefully I have a bit more financial freedom by that time.

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TTMK February 4, 2014 at 1:11 am

Ah, logistics. Yes, that would make things a bit more complicated. You mentioned financial freedom, and this type of situation is yet another example of how financial freedom can really help a person take care of life’s needs.

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Money Beagle January 31, 2014 at 11:17 am

Parents take care of kids when the kids are unable to take care of themselves, so I certainly think taking care of older parents is simply giving back what they gave to you.

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TTMK February 4, 2014 at 1:09 am

I think there’s fairness and honor involved to make it that way.

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