Sorry to crash the AARP party, but my husband and I need advice from those who are experienced in this area, but admittedly we are not of the AARP age, and personally feel we are too young to be in the position we now find ourselves in.
Any advice that can be provided though is greatly appreciated, sorry that it comes to you at novel length.
My husband and I are recently married (less than 1 year) we are both in our early 30's and still in college. I work to support us both and our home...and his mother...in her own home. He is trying to find work too, but the market has not been kind.
In February of 2010, having just returned to work herself from having been laid off for a while, Betty, my mother-in-law became very ill and ended up in the hospital, in a coma for almost two weeks. Due to this occurring just days after starting a new job, she subsequently lost it. She did not follow through with physical therapy after her release so her health never really came back to where it was before the coma and we have serious doubts that her mental aptitude is the same that it once was too. Furthermore, she is still unemployed and has no income or savings to support herself with, and due to her reduced physical health she feels she cannot manage many common (ie. holiday) jobs that would help get her out of the financial hole she is digging (for us). Nor is she in a condition that would allow her to go back to her old job as a CMA.
Betty has three children, two live locally to her (us and a daughter) and one lives in another state. Betty does not speak to her daughter (which is a whole other ball of wax, but not unwarranted), so she relies entirely on her other son (my husband) to help her with many physical tasks as well as us paying her mortgage. Out-of-state son pays her bills, most of the time. We have given her an ultimatum that we will not pay her mortgage for more than one year, she has roughly eight months left.
She is eligible to take social security and we are looking in to disability for her as well, but neither of those programs will be enough for her to afford her home on her own and she is deeply opposed to moving.
Betty is not the same person she was 10 years ago. Admittedly her life is not going well, but instead of addressing problems herself and working towards finding solutions, she expects others to do it for her or she "hides her head in the sand". When she does receive help from my husband or I, she is just as likely to berate him for the work as she is to thank him for it. I have had to trick her into going to meetings to discuss housing options to prevent her from having a "schedule conflict". She refuses to believe that she is no longer capable of performing as a CMA and will not look for other work and suggested jobs are always met with an explanation of why she could not do/get it. She has become very verbally abusive towards my husband at times, but she refuses to do anything of substance or outside of her home without him.
Every month that we pay her mortgage we fall further behind on our own debts, yet if in the end she refuses to make changes and loses her house we will all be hurt by it. We would like her to sell her home and move into a condo. We believe that it will help her live independently for a longer period of time in her life and also help mitigate concerns with home maintenance or her need to go up and downstairs for regular tasks like laundry. Dependant upon sale and purchase prices of her home and a condo, it is not likely that a condo would be much less than her current mortgage, but having done the analysis there is some financial benefit to it.
WHAT DO WE DO
There are a host of issues here, but the few that we would appreciate peoples thoughts on are these:
1. Is there a way to motivate her to begin solving her own problems? We recognize that she is clearly depressed or possibly at an early stage of Alzheimers/Dementia, but she refuses to see a therapist or be tested for those diseases. How can we help her see that these are issues that need addressing by her? We even signed her up for AARP last year so she could look for cheaper insurance, and she refused to try because another insurer had quoted her a poor rate. How do we convince her not give up so easily?
2. Is there a way to help her see/understand that by moving to a condo we are not trying to "mothball" her, but instead are trying to help her and us live independently? My husband suspects that she holds on to a dream of selling her home and moving in with us. Is there a way for us to tell her that it really is just a dream?
- I know she wants to live with us and help us raise grand/children, but sadly I don't think she can be trusted with that role and she holds many opinions and beliefs that we would not want constantly impressed upon our children. Over and above that, we can't afford her and children.
3. Is there a way to convince her that the CMA thing is just not an option anymore? Not only is she no longer certified, she has not held the position for two years. Unfortunately she competes against younger recent graduates for the same job that cost less as employees and have more recent experience. Hopefully this becomes a moot point if she gets disability, but then she will still need to find some way to have income while being on disability.
4. Are there any tips or tricks for managing money with someone like this? Before we started paying her mortgage directly and her other son started paying her bills directly, my husband helped her manage making all of the payments once we would give her the money. But there would be times where she would spend it on other things and then ask for more or she wouldn't know which bills she would need to pay. If my husband got frustrated with her because she said she could handle it she would then get upset for him "treating her like a child". However, if he told what she needed to do because she couldn't remember she would still get upset with him for "trying to run her life". It was a no win. Now that we pay directly it's helped, but she still wants to make decisions about how her bills get paid that are not convenient or feasible to us. I know I've read about children dealing with this with their parents. Please help with any tips.
I know this has been a really long story/question but if you've made it this far, thanks for reading and I hope you have some suggestions. As I said before, we're young, we are just starting out ourselves, and while I always knew she would need extra attention from us as time went on, I didn't anticipate it starting before I turned 30. I've watched my parents go through these things with my grandparents, and though I know they had some troubles, my grandparents had much better foresight than my mother-in-law. We don't know how to help Betty solve her problems without creating many problems for ourselves. Despite all of the government agencies for the most part, we are alone in this battle and any outside direction we can get to help us solve it is greatly appreciated. Thank you.