Welcome to the first post of Caregiving for All. As part of the United Methodist Church and Grace United Methodist Church of Moorhead, MN, I welcome you. You must be curious to learn more about caregiving, or perhaps you are faced with caregiving needs. These weekly, posts are for those needing care, as well as for those who are caregivers. It is equally important for younger family members to understand what caregiving is, and when to seek help and guidance. If you are new to this website, I encourage you to look at the link: Who We Are. This will give you some background about me. I am thankful that Grace United Methodist Church of Moorhead, MN is supporting my new ministry by allowing me to post my weekly chats on their website. I would appreciate your feedback, good or bad.
Because of Covid, I had to limit my ministry to online groups. Recently, I was asked to create a video for the Minnesota Conference of United Methodist Church on caregiving for Lay Leaders, like myself. I am about halfway completed. I had been asking God to direct me on where and what God wants me to do. God’s directions were pretty clear about caregiving and also writing. It is my goal to add to this story of caregiving every 7-10 days with another topic. I have been a caregiver for someone for over 30 years. It started with my parents with their Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s dementia. In 1990, my parents decided they needed someone to help them with their finances and medical care. My mother once dealt with millions of dollars a year for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It was getting so that she couldn’t balance her checkbook. Also, my parents’ lawyer suggested they put their home in my name to protect it in the future. My three siblings agreed since all of them were out of town and not near enough to help.
My first topic: Preparing for Caregiving. My parents asked my father-in-law for help in finding a lawyer. The lawyer sat them down and shared with them the strategies that would work best for them. It is important to remember that no two families are alike. Each is unique. That is why it is so important to get good advice from someone you trust and who understands all the legal ramifications. That is why it is good to update your will when you reach retirement age, or before if you have health issues. Also, if you haven’t done or updated your Healthcare Directives, do so now. The lawyer made it clear that those who were not in close vicinity or have liabilities should not be on any documents. That left me, as the only choice. The middle child, who got in trouble with his brothers, and picked on his sister in the early years. This meant that I was on all their financial papers, and we created a Life Estate (the house was put in my name, but my parents had Tenancy Rights to live there for as long as they like).
About three years later, my mother got very sick and hallucinations started. She was hospitalized a couple of times, and was eventually put in a nursing home 45 miles from me, but much closer to my sister, and a few of my mother’s siblings. My dad, who could not live on his own was placed in an assisted living facility in our community. My sister did a good job of checking on her and I would see her once a week. Three weeks later, there was an opening so my dad could be with my mother in this new community. After talking with my sister, I made the decision that I would not put my dad with her, but wait until there was an opening back in Moorhead. My brothers were not happy with my decision, but they accepted it. Fortunately, two weeks later an opening came in a nursing home in our hometown, and my mother was back home. A week later, my dad was able to join her. For me, God was in charge of all the plans, and guided and supported me, especially when it came to difficult decisions. They spent the next four years in that nursing home together and died five months apart. They both went on Medicare assistance, with most of their care paid for by Minnesota. Their car, which they were allowed to keep for me to take them to appointments, was sold two years before they died. The following year I was required to sell their home, but I was able to keep 80%, $40,000, which I shared with my siblings after our parent’s death. It is much more difficult to do a Life Estate today, as the state has a longer look-back period to recover funds to help pay nursing home costs. You can’t hide your money and then request assistance. The $10,000 each of us got, was nice. I bought three famous paintings that I had always wanted. Our children each bought something to remind them of their grandparents. The rest was put away for school.
The Take Away: Don’t wait until it is too late to get financial advice from a responsible person. Let your children know, what you have, and where everything is located. DO NOT make it a guessing game for them. Don’t let your children or grandchildren direct you on what to do with property or finances. See a professional.
Your feedback is always welcome. Feel free to send personal messages. You can reach me at email@example.com