By Quentin Fottrell
“Set expectations and goals, don’t settle for less and don’t pay for love or a mate”
I am 65 years old and had been hoping for an early retirement for a long time, but I am still working.
I have my 90-year-old mother with no income to support me and my 73-year-old husband, who is retired. I never see a penny of his retirement income. He used to work as a building inspector, but he quit working in 2018 because he failed the state test after six attempts. He used to help with utilities, but no longer does.
I am in good health and will continue to work until the end, but I now realize that I am using my savings to keep up, and he is trying to find a job without success. I know it’s my fault that all these years I’ve allowed her to have it easy. I never demanded anything. I have no way out of this situation.
We don’t have children, but he had two before we met. I kiss them as if they were mine. I guess it’s my way of venting and my way of telling people: set expectations and goals, don’t settle for less and don’t pay for love or a mate. Love yourself and protect yourself.
I would like to know then what I know now. Why am I telling you this? I’m embarrassed to tell anyone else in my life. Who would believe me?
Is this a hopeless situation?
A feeling of despair
Never be ashamed and try not to believe that your situation is hopeless. Your life has changed and you find yourself in a situation where you are caring for one person – your mother – and financially supporting another. This situation will continue to evolve, but you can and must fight back. Does your mother qualify for Social Security? Your husband has to contribute to the bills, otherwise.
About this “or else”. You don’t say how long you and he have been married, and whether you jointly own your property or your rent, but you can also look into the options you have regarding a separation, if he continues to be unwilling to contribute anything. it’s his retirement income. and/or social security for food and utilities. He will probably continue to dip into your savings unless his hand is forced.
You stepped in to help your mother. It’s an honorable act, and not uncommon. One in five, or more than 53 million adults in the United States, is an unpaid family caregiver. This number jumped by 10 million between 2015 and 2020; 40 million of these people are caring for an adult. You are one of them, according to a report from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.
This report highlights the physical, emotional and financial pressure experienced by many caregivers. “For caregivers, positive emotions often coexist with feelings of isolation, stress or tension,” he says. “Half of carers of adults aged 50 or over believe their caring role gives them meaning or meaning in life.” All of this has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
There are options for becoming a paid caregiver, and you should see if any of them apply to you. Medicaid provides long-term care coverage for low-income people. The Older Americans Act of 1965 is designed to help people age 60 and older with medical conditions who are not eligible for Medicaid but need financial assistance, including delivered meals and transportation home.
Medicaid Self-Directed Services is the Medicaid program that aims to compensate family caregivers. It was created for people over 60, like you, who need help at home and lead the caregiving process. These apply to people caring for their parents, but most of these financial aids do not apply to husbands/wives or legal guardians.
The Family Caregiver Alliance provides a list of self-directed programs for caregivers. “Resources include government health and disability programs, legal, home and out-of-home care, and more,” the alliance says. The Eldercare Locator, part of the US Administration on Aging, can also help connect you to services for older adults and their families.
As one person on Moneyist’s Facebook page noted: “You are a wonderful person with a big heart. We don’t find ourselves in these situations all of a sudden; we do a small deed out of compassion and love, and with over time, it becomes expected of us. The other person adapts, digs in, and your compassion becomes expected and demanded.”
Ultimately, you need to be compassionate with yourself. When you stop blaming yourself for the decisions you’ve made in your life, you’ll feel stronger and more able to say, “Enough. There are no more free spins. You only have one life to live and your husband is not going to interfere unless you stand up to him. Put it to him — on paper, and in black and white.
Check out the private Moneyist Facebook group, where we seek answers to life’s trickiest money problems. Readers write to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Ask your questions, tell me what you want to know more or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.
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