By Max Greenberg
SENIOR FOCUS: It's Never Too Late...To Ask for Help from Your KidsUploaded: Jun 24, 2015
I met a woman who lost her husband a number of years ago and took her on a tour of the retirement community where I work. She loved everything about it: the people she met, the multi-generational campus, the activities, lectures and cultural happenings, the gorgeous apt. The only thing she didn't love was the cost. There was an up front entrance fee cost plus a monthly fee. She explained to me when her husband died she sold the house and moved into a lovely rental apt in Mt View. This all happened well before the more recent surges in home values, thus she didn't have the money for the entry fee to move in. She had also shared about her four extremely successful children: 2 doctors, a lawyer and a hi-tech exec. I politely suggested that perhaps one or two might be in the position where they could sponsor her and pay the entry fee for her (it's 90% returnable when she moves out). She insisted that she would never, ever, ask her kids for any kind of financial assistance. She couldn't really articulate why.
This is a woman who, at age 82, is heading towards that fine-line between being health-qualified to move into an independent living (IL) retirement community and being turned down for either physical or memory issues. In a year or two there's a good chance that her only option would be in an assisted living (AL) community. She possibly could also stay in her own home and have caregivers provide in-home care, for which she would surely be asking her kids to help pay for, and manage. She would greatly benefit from being able to move into an IL community now, when she could still enjoy many of the amenities, friendships, good nutrition and exercise opportunities that would be at her doorstep. There were a number of reasons that she came to visit my community, including having the feeling that "something" was going to happen, that she was feeling isolated living in her apt, and that the time was right.
I asked her if for some reason she felt she didn't deserve to be financially helped by her kids. Weren't there a number of things she had consistently done for them since she gave birth to them that they were probably very grateful for, including being part of the duo who had planted, nurtured and help them sow the seeds of their success by instilling in them the virtues of having a definite purpose, persistence, and the positive mental attitude that helped insure their current success. Additionally, think how happy they would be to know you were in a safe, healthy, stimulating environment and that as you age when they come to visit with your grandkids, the entire visit wouldn't be consumed with care-management decisions and making sure you were eating properly, getting dressed every day etc.
Remarkably, this lovely woman heard what I was saying, told me she was going to share her desire to move into the community with her kids, and have them speak to me about the financial particulars.
Whether she moves into my community or another one, it is very gratifying that I was able to move the conversation along and can foresee a very positive outcome for her. And I'm sure there are many conversations like this between seniors and their baby boomer kids that are not happening because mom or dad is stuck with this self-limiting belief that they would "?never, ever, ask my kids for financial help." That belief, like many others we carry around, took a life-time to hone, but can be reversed in but a few moments.