The Sandwich Generation

by AustinMom

I am a typical member of the sandwich generation that the article below describes – caring for an elderly parent and raising minor children. As regular Totebaggers know, I lost my father about eight months ago and, as an only child, have been taking on more and more caregiving responsibilities for my elderly mother, whose health is also declining. Thankfully, my parents worked very hard to ensure they have sufficient resources at this stage in their lives and I am not providing financial support. I provide almost all the emotional support to my mother as well as handle most of the major decision making and a fair number of day-to-day tasks such as bill paying and grocery shopping. And, I attend all doctor appointments and try to be present a significant amount of time during any hospitalization and visit almost daily when she is in any type of rehabilitation situation.

This article talks more about the statistics and less about the physical and emotional challenges of the sandwich generation. While some articles look at these issues, I find they fall into (1) how to prepare financially so that when you are the elderly parent you have sufficient income/wealth, (2) resources for you to wade through to find a community/facility/services appropriate for the elderly person, or (3) caution caregivers to be aware of their own symptoms, usually focusing on mental health. But, there doesn’t seem to be much about how to balance or appropriately handle all the different directions you are being pulled.

I have been looking for those articles because lately I am just feeling exhausted and very pressed for time. While I am thankful that my mother has been around this long in my life, I also feel that I am missing part of my children’s lives as they will soon be entering college and moving on. And at the very same time, I know my children are looking at my actions for what is reasonable and ethical behavior for handing elder care.

The Sandwich Generation

So Totebaggers – Are you part of the sandwich generation? Do you feel that you are always blazing the new trail or that one is there that is easy to follow? Are you that primary caregiver? If not, how to you feel about the other family member who is providing all this care?

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194 thoughts on “The Sandwich Generation

  1. We are not part of the sandwich generation. My parents had children when they were very young, so they are still relatively young and healthy. When they do finally need our help, we will be empty nesters. That said, we still worry about how to best support them in the future.

  2. My mom has had intermittent health crises for the past eight years. Although I have a number of siblings, we are all tired, emotionally and physically. Every one of my siblings has dealt with mom in crises, in the hospital, when we have had a junior or senior in high school. Only one sibling lives within an hour’s drive of my mother.

    Many friends and acquaintances are experiencing similar parental issues. I’ve noticed a common conversational theme the past few years….”Hi, how are the parents?” “Hmmm, well, they are 75+ and this, that and the other issue….”

    I have no solutions, except be kind to spouses, siblings, and kids. That and I have told my oldest that on my 80th birthday, we are going shopping for assisted living facilities.

  3. My parents are still in their 60s (Mom had me at 24) so they will not need us for a while (fingers crossed). Dh’s parents are just a little older than my dad but their health and finances are worse (smokers for 50 years, do not exercise) Our grandparents (except for one) all just died suddenly so we have little experience in long term care issues. My one grandfather who did have to go to assisted living did not last there that long (maybe 18 months). I’m interested in hearing about what others have done financially for their parents. It is hard not to feel resentful sometimes knowing we’re probably going to be on the hook financially because DH’s parents like to smoke and gamble their $ away.

  4. AustinMom – I am part of a sandwich generation, but frankly am in denial as to what may come. My mom could probably use a bit more handholding, but it’s not possible for me, living so far away. (Plus she’s very independent and does not take advice well.) One sibling currently lives close to my mom, the other does part of the year. Both may move further away in the next few years. We are simply hoping my mom follows in her parent’s footsteps and lives well into her 80s/early 90s. She’s 75 and in relatively good health. She is in OK financial shape and so far is managing her healthcare on her own.

    For my inlaws, only 1 sibling lives near them. They are younger (early/mid 60s) and also in relatively good health. The family dynamics are complicated but I think we’re a few years off from any major issues.

  5. My parents are in their early 70s. Thus far, only minor health issues that they have mostly handled on their own with a bit of help from sibs in the medical field. I have noticed in the last few years that they have become more fearful/resistant to things/change. When they need more help, doctor sibs can do the health side, I will likely do the money/bills/organization side and the one sibling who lives close can keep an eye on things. To tie in to an earlier discussion, this sibling also had the least amount of $ and I think all of the other siblings would be happy to compensate that sibling for his heavy lifting (giving him my parents’ house, etc). In some ways, having a bunch of siblings is really nice. We can divide and conquer. In other ways, it is hard to coordinate and someone will need to take charge (probably me) and organize/direct things.

  6. So far, no major issues with parents. They are 78 and live an 8-9 hour drive from me, and I am the closest of the three kids. They are still completely independent and in pretty good health, but my mom has macular degeneration, which took my grandmother’s sight at around 80. My siblings and I used to all visit at the same time so we could see each other, but are now staggering our visits through the year so someone sees them in person every couple of months. They do not tell us much about health problems – we typically find out later during a story when to mentioned I tangentially, like “that same thing happened to me when I had the scan for the gallbladder attack”, when they had never told any of us about the ER visit for it. I worry a great deal about how to provide support to them from this far away, and my dad in particular has no desire to move. My youngest is a junior, so I’m mostly hoping the problems come far in the future, or they are blessed with a sudden, painless demise before any significant decline in health. Logistically, I worry most about my 5’2″ mother helping my 6’4″ father now that his knees are giving out from arthritis.

  7. Austin, is there anything you can do to outsource some of this crap? Do you have InstaCart or Amazon Fresh or some other grocery delivery service? Can Mom’s finances be handed off to a bookkeeper? (I never did that but in retrospect I kind of wish I had). Anything else that can be handed off?

  8. My parents both passed on with little need for caregiving. But I watched my mother do it for many years. She had to take care of her parents in ill health both from afar, and later, closer to home (she moved them closer). Alas, my mother got very little respite – she herself died only 3 years after her mother passed on.

  9. Also, please forgive me if I’m being too personal, but this post combined with some of your other posts suggest that you’re really frustrated with the lack of emotional and practical support from the rest of your family — partner, kids, Mom. Everyone wants a piece of you and no one wants to step up to do the difficult, boring stuff. I wonder if some kind of therapist or a support group or something (that you could attend in your copious spare time!) might not be useful. And speaking from my own experience, there’s a lot of disappointment that I had to work through. I had to recognize that I wasn’t living up to my own standards, and my mother and husband and sister weren’t necessarily living up to my standards either, and the potential to become kind of bitter and angry was omnipresent. I think I wound up sadder and wiser, but hopefully not (permanently) bitter.

    It was one of those phases in life where you once again realize that all the pretty stories they tell you in elementary school about how the world works are just false. People will disappoint you. Stuff is way too hard. Your mom figures that she sacrificed everything for you and now it’s your turn, and screw the fact that you have your own kids. Your husband just. doesn’t. come. through. Your siblings are oblivious and “so glad that you’re there to deal with Mom” because they’re just so busy. Etc. It’s a really difficult emotional realization.

  10. Ditto RMS! My mom was the primary caregiver for 3 out of my 4 grandparents – my 2 grandmothers in particular – and it took a real toll on her to be caregiving for so long. She was an only child, and while my dad was 1 of 4, my parents were the only ones who encouraged my dad’s mom to move to assisted living near them. My grandmother who hung on the longest went to a nursing home about 6 months before she died, and my mom found relief in just going to visit and not having to do caregiving at the same time.

    Our parents are in their 60s and our grandparents just died within the past 5-10 years, so knock on wood, we won’t have to deal with this until our kids are in or out of college. My parents are going to move closer to me and 1 sibling when they retire, so there should be 2 of us close by to trade off. DH’s mom will be taken care of by her stepkids (we rarely talk to her and don’t visit); I am not sure what will happen with DH’s dad and stepmom, but DH’s sibling lives nearer to them than we do right now.

  11. I was the sandwich generation about 12 years ago. My youngest finished his junior year in high school. I missed that whole summer because I was in Florida taking care of my father in law and handling my mother in law for a month until I could get her up north. She had Alzheimers and
    was difficult to handle. Mostly, I just missed my family. My father in law was in either the hospital or nursing facility which necessitated a 26 mile drive one way and I went and stayed with him every day. I also had to go through and weed out and give away or throw away what we were not taking back home.

    Twice we had reservations to fly him home and then I would drive his car home. First time he had a medical crisis and ended up in the hospital. Second time a hurricane came through. Third time was the charm. Once we got him home, I coordinated his care and took him to chemo and doctors’ appointments.

    I had to give up my job and spent months away from my home and family. I was very lonely and getting very depressed. When I was finally able to leave, I left at 5:00 in the morning. I was meeting my husband in Richmond, Virginia so I didn’t have to drive the rest of the way home alone. I was thrilled to see him!

    Every situation is different. My only advice is to take advantage of the knowledge social workers have as to options and what they can do for your loved ones. Just note that you do not have to go to the nursing facility they recommend. I found that they owe favors and need to rotate nursing home recommendations. I visited their top recommendation and did not always go along with their pick and went along looking at other places until I found one I liked.

    This experience is one of the reasons I don’t want to retire far from our kids. I don’t want to do that to them.

    Just remember, nothing lasts forever, not the good nor the bad.

  12. RMS, not to get too personal, but you started it :)

    “It was one of those phases in life where you once again realize that all the pretty stories they tell you in elementary school about how the world works are just false. People will disappoint you. Stuff is way too hard. Your mom figures that she sacrificed everything for you and now it’s your turn, and screw the fact that you have your own kids. Your husband just. doesn’t. come. through. Your siblings are oblivious and “so glad that you’re there to deal with Mom” because they’re just so busy. Etc. It’s a really difficult emotional realization.”

    How do you get through this sort of realization without falling into despair and bitterness? How do you maintain relationships with siblings?

    My mother, like everyone’s I suspect, was/is an imperfect human being and parent. She is still difficult and not making mine or my other caretaker sibling’s life easier. Several of the other siblings have quit caretaking. One sibling has stated that mom is tired and ready to go, and he has never had a conversation with her in him entire life anyway. And he has his own kids to tend. Which is true, but…. And yet, I know that I have also dropped the ball and let the nearest sibling take charge, to the detriment of his own marriage. But…my mom always favored him.

    How do you wade past or through the morass of duties, responsibilities, childhood slights and ill treatment, favoritism, into to behaving in a fashion that one is not ashamed of?

  13. We are in a similar situation to Austin but thus far both sets of parents are healthy. Both sets of parents do take care of their health by eating healthy, getting excercise and seeing doctors to manage diabetes and cholesterol. I am resentful of the way things fell to us, with regard to the in laws. DH’s siblings and their families will visit and write checks but none wants to invite the in laws over. We still have younger kids – I am hoping we will not be active caregivers till much later. In the interim we are trying to save as much as we can to provide for both our kids and one set of parents. The other set have enough to cover their expenses.

  14. Yup. My mom lives with me and has been thriving since moving in. I don’t know if it’s DS, or the fact that I control the available food (and control one meal a day), but she’s not having issues anymore. Financially, I’ll be supporting her forever. But, right now, she saves me money, so it’s a wash.

    My dad is another situation. He’s older than my mom, in another state, and married to a useless twit. If he divorces her (and I pray he does), I’m trying to convince him to get a place near me so that I can be more active in his care. He’s a holy hot mess of stuff, but completely “healthy” in the sense that he’s functional. Like I trust he won’t forget to turn off the stove or take his meds. Not sure how much I’ll have to financially support him. Something tells me I won’t… he’s just that good with money.

    Can I win the powerball so I can buy a compound? My dad will have a guest house, my mom another guest house, and us in the main house. Or the ability to afford a larger plot of land and move my folks into separate tiny houses. They’ll hate me for it, but at least I could keep an eye on them.

    I’m treasuring how “fit” my parents are now. I know it’s a matter of time before they both go south. Hopefully not at the same time, and hopefully swiftly. I’ve been through the drawn out trauma of cancer and I don’t know if I’ll survive that with minor child(ren).

  15. I’m interested in hearing about what others have done financially for their parents. It is hard not to feel resentful sometimes knowing we’re probably going to be on the hook financially because DH’s parents like to smoke and gamble their $ away.

    When their money is all gone, they can go into a nursing home on Medicaid.

  16. a fair number of day-to-day tasks such as bill paying and grocery shopping

    I was thinking about that in terms of the NYTimes post on annuities.

    Lets say your monthly nut was $3500 a month in terms of: electricity, gas, cable, car insurance, cell phone, property taxes, medicare supplement, etc. If you were getting 2000/month from SS it might make sense to annuitize 300k (1500/month) and send that money to an account and set up online bill pay for everything.

    If you needed a new car or a viking river cruise you could get money out of your brokerage account but all the day to day stuff would be automatic.

    As for grocery shopping, I thought to myself there must be a service that supplies ready to heat meals for the elderly.

    http://www.healthychefcreations.com/how-it-works.aspx

    I know many older people run into problems with not eating as it’s too much trouble to cook for one. That seems like an easy solution. Couple that with amazon prime for sundries and you’re good to go.

  17. My current experience is very similar to Murphy’s and I’m looking forward to RMS’ response to Murphy’s 11:23 post. Maybe RMS can be our therapist….

  18. RMS – You hit the nail on the head. Until I have a better handle on all the finances, I’m not sure outsourcing that will help much. I have set a number of things up to autopay, but the problem is I’m still working through the process with the attorney after my dad’s death and getting a handle on income taxes for 2015.

    I was working on outsourcing slowly as my mom accepted it, but then she had an overnight rehospitalization and is currently in the skilled nursing portion of the community she lives in and is on the waiting list for assisted living. Most of the outsourcing is now on hold as she doesn’t need those services. She is more on-board with moving to assisted living. I did almost burst into tears last week, when at the care plan meeting for my mom, the social worker mentioned that assisted living is need based. I thought – how could my oxygen dependent, limited stamina, blind and hard of hearing, and who is having more memory issues mother not qualify?

    I have stopped expecting anything from my partner and DDs. You are right, I feel disappointed. Though since then, my older DD has come around the most. For a few school-related needs, she has done her best to work it out before approaching me. She has already done the leg work to the part that an adult has to take the next step including bringing the papers along with the request a few days in advance.

  19. Um…if I said, “It’s way easier after she’s dead”, would that be helpful or useless? Many people who have lost their mothers “miss them every day” and are sad and grieve more or less forever. In my case it was more of a relief. She was difficult and awful. After she died my relationship with my sister got better, and that was partly because I just decided it would. Did I want to get rid of her just because she’d been so useless? I decided I didn’t. We’re still not close. But I didn’t just write her off, which was kind of what I was planning when Mom was still alive.

    When Mom was alive I was angry and bitter A LOT. Other than prayer and Xanax, I have no help for that. When your mom finally passes, all I can recommend is to wait before just eliminating all your siblings from your life. Wait til your emotions calm down a little. Try to be neutral and maybe eventually you’ll be able to deal with them a bit more calmly. I do think that the Christian world-view (no, not that happy-smiley-hair-spray-homophobic one, the we-are-all-sinners-and-complete-failures-and-need-God’s-grace one) can help reconcile you to a reality that simply isn’t acknowledged in 21st century America.

  20. Austin, I agree w/ RMS. You seem to be taking on a huge strain here. I wish you well and hope you’ll find a way to make it work for you, which will hopefully involve finding a way to get others to help you.

    Because of conversations we’ve had in this group on this subject, I have started conversations w/ my two sibs and their spouses, and they were all quite eager to discuss it all. I’m so glad we did it — the discussions have been wonderful. Right now, it’s futuristic – my parents are doing great. But they’re at that age where things could change fast, and I wanted to be the one to open up the conversation, to decrease the risk that the others might feel resentful and over burdened later on.

    My sis is 15 min from my parents most of the year, and next door to them in the summer. My brother is a plane ride away most of the year, and next door to them (on the other side) in the summer. I am either 5 or 7 hours from them by car, depending on whether they’re in the city or at the lake. So, my sis is always on the hook, and my brother and I take turns being closer or further.

    We had a bit of a scare w/ my dad last summer and only my SIL was around to help. I sent her a certificate for a spa day after, to thank her, and she was thrilled. She said it wasn’t necessary, and I believe she meant it, but I’ll be sending those kinds of things to her and my sister (and brother) if it happens again. I’ve also made it clear that I can and will pack up here and drive to my parents’ place for any length of time, if my sister or SIL are feeling they’re under too much strain and need a break. I can work from anywhere, and even if DH has to travel, the kids are fine on their own now. Conversations like the ones we’ve had here have made me determined that I’ll make a temporary move to my parents’ place rather than leave my sibs in the lurch.

    I appreciate hearing from Austin and others on this — it’s a great reminder to check in with everyone again and make sure we’re all still on the same page, and people feel the burdens are being shared equally.

  21. Denver – aren’t those nursing homes that take Medicaid difficult to get into?

    I’m also worried about general financial support for their day to day lives. They get $4K per month from social security and make around $100K (both still working) but spend every cent. I’d be surprised if there is more than $100K in savings. My MIL says she’s retiring this year and their plan is just for DH’s stepfather to work until he dies I think. DH and I really need to see everything to get the full financial picture but I doubt it’s good.

  22. I wouldn’t mind or be resentful if the in laws were easier people to get along with. But they are not. That is the reason their kids and more so the spouses of the kids don’t want much interaction let alone caregiving.

  23. And honestly, for everyone who is vowing to move into a retirement community to relieve your kids of caretaking stress, you also need to vow to use the assistance such a community offers. It doesn’t help if you refuse to ride the shuttle bus to the grocery store, or let the service do your laundry, etc.

  24. Louise – I think you are a saint. I don’t know that I could be so gracious about my in-laws living with me for long periods of time.

  25. My mom is 81, in good health, active. No issues. My stepdad is 89, physical health is fine, mental decline has set in. No diagnosis of Alzheimers or anything like that, just basically his memory is fading as in he won’t remember telling you the same story day after day. And his hearing has been going forever; he has and uses hearing aids, but still there’s a lot of repeating necessary. They live in the house they have owned since 1971 and do fine. My mom is somewhat limited in what she can commit to doing because she feels she cannot leave him alone for very long. Both my sister who lives nearby to them and I have suggested bringing someone in for e.g. one afternoon/week to start to be in the house while she goes to lunch with friends or does some other thing. So far, resistance to that. But I can see the issue looming larger

    Inlaws are 78 & 79. She’s fine all around. A bit of a ditz, but that’s not news. His mobility has decreased a lot in the past ~3 years (despite knee replacements and before that at least one hip), and he’s become a lot less apt to want to do things outside the house. And because of his issues, she feels more house-bound. One of DW’s sisters lives close to them and so bears the brunt of the sandwich generation issues, despite DW offering to go be with them (5 hr drive) for a few days at time. There’s been talk of moving them to a ranch and out of their colonial to get rid of the steps, but so far just talk.

    Fortunately, they all have plenty of $$ and so won’t be needing that kind of support. DW and I mostly hear about stuff after the fact because we’re not local to either set.

  26. “How do you wade past or through the morass of duties, responsibilities, childhood slights and ill treatment, favoritism, into to behaving in a fashion that one is not ashamed of?”

    I decided this one pretty quickly, Murphy. I am on the UNfavored end of the equation, but I have decided (1) that is not my siblings’ fault, and (2) even if it is, I don’t want to be the kind of person who uses that as an excuse for sticking them with something. I would rather be the person who does/pays too much, in this and every situation, than the person who does/pays too little.

    And now, after today’s discussion and the one about the wills, I’ll probably have to change my Totebag name again. PTM is going to hate me.

  27. “That seems like enough to keep them off the streets.”

    That was my thought. What’s to worry about? They can live on $50k per year. If they can’t, find a small apt.

  28. Milo,

    The median household income in GA is $49,321. So, to paraphrase Lady Grantham,
    “It’s not like they’re going to be sent down the mines.”

  29. “Rhett – you’d think…”

    Atlanta – If they want to go gamble one month’s check away at Mohegan Sun, then it will just be rice and beans until next month. But another check will come soon enough.

  30. Denver – aren’t those nursing homes that take Medicaid difficult to get into?

    It depends, but usually you can find a bed. Worst case you can do what one of my patient’s son’s did. He was her caregiver at home and reached his breaking point, so he took her to the ER and said she needed to go to a nursing home because he couldn’t care for her anymore. She was admitted to a skilled nursing unit under medicaid, and did some PT/OT work there to justify the medicaid billing. And while she was there, the social worker found her a nursing home placement.

  31. Austin, I realize my comment is more helpful to one of your siblings than to you. Can you call them (or send a very carefully worded email) to broach this subject with them? People can be clueless, and can get so wrapped up in their own lives that they don’t think about, or realize, all you’re doing. If you laid it all out for them and flat-out asked for support, you might get it, and even if you don’t, the act of expressing yourself might make you feel a little better. ?

  32. I don’t understand their finances other than I know their rent is $1400 per month. I’m pretty certain they go gambling every week (just my MIL) and DH’s stepfather has let drop that they spend $400 per month on MIL’s cigarettes. It still doesn’t add up as to why they are barely making it on $150K per year. My MIL keeps saying things like “I need to buy an extra set of sheets before I retire because I won’t be able to afford it then”.

  33. Austin, while your mom is in the skilled unit, take a break. She has 24 hour nursing care, you do not need to see her every day. This is a great opportunity for you to get a physical and mental break from dealing with everything.

  34. Yes, using the retirement community services helps. But, be aware that they are not always as practical as they sound. For example, my mom could take the “car” they provide to doctor’s appointments, but the appointment can’t be at any time on Monday or on Friday afternoon or any day before 9 am or need you to be picked back up after 4 pm. Plus, the slots can often fill up fast and have to be signed up for 48 hours in advance.

  35. DD – I have been trying to take your advice, I am working on every other day. But, she calls and needs/wants something – either from her apartment or in general – yesterday evening she called because she dropped her toothbrush in the toilet. Granted, I would throw it away too, but still.

  36. Dear Murphy,

    I feel for you. There are no perfect answers here. My father died more than a decade ago and at that point, I was childless and my siblings all had young children. We all lived within 1 to 2 hours of my parents, but due to my childlessness and proximity, I became a primary caregiver. He was sick with terminal cancer for 6 months and but for a few crisis driven hospital stays he died at home (with hospice). I basically moved in with my parents for the duration. Six months is a lot different than multiple years of caregiving, but I had a very demanding and all consuming job at the time, so, it was still exhausting.

    I have 3 siblings and 1 sibling was very involved/helpful. 2 were “missing in action”—-one was heavily involved with the medical condition of her toddler at the time, the other could not handle the emotional pain of watching our father die, so she stayed away. There was a lot of anger and resentment at various points in time, but at the end of the day, many years later…….here are my observations:

    1. For me, knowing that I spent as much time with my dad during the end of his life, brings me solace and comfort—–and I have no regrets. I am thankful for the time I got to spend with my dad and the support I gave him and I have no guilt or shame or wishful longing that I had done better, was more present, etc.

    2. After my father died, me and the “involved” sibling, were emotionally depleted. We could not be the supportive/attentive children my mother needed as she grieved the loss of her spouse in the months that followed. But my sibling who had stayed away while my dad was dying, totally stepped up to the plate and was able to give our mother that emotional and practical support.

    The lesson for me: do what you need to do when you can. Everyone handles crises/grief/etc. in their own way, in their own time. With siblings, do what you can, but realize that not everyone can or will do what you need/want/expect them to do (including you). That is ok. Be kind to yourself. Be as involved, supportive, caring as you can be, but get help (paid if needs be), and make time for yourself (whether it is exercise, healthy eating, a respite from the caring). Caregiving is hard—-physically, emotionally, financially.

    3. Fast forward many years later, I now have a young child, my nieces and nephews are much older, many are at college, a few are already launched. My siblings now have more time available than they did 13 years ago. When my mother had a serious medical issue this year and spent months in the hospital and rehab, I found it much more challenging to be at the hospital everyday. But all of the other siblings stepped up and while I was still involved, the others picked up much more of the slack.

    Life is a journey. You can play different roles at different points along the way. So can others. Do the best you can today for today. Accept that you have limitations. Accept that others have limitations, too. I tried to get the “uninvolved” sibling involved, I ranted, I raved, I begged, I pleaded…..but I couldn’t change her and in the end, she did what she could do when she could do it. And that is all you can really ask of anyone, anyway.

  37. I’m dealing with cultural expectations that assume that *of course* I’m going to step up to the plate and allow my ILs to move into our home and care for them for 10-20 years. DH in our culture is not expected to do any work, because he’s male.

    I’ve told him point blank that I will not be the main caretaker of his parents, and that they cannot move into our house. However, I also told him that he’s free to move in with them to take care of their needs. He’s planning to retire early while I continue to work, so I pointed out that this would work out well, schedule-wise. I also told him that I’d be happy to scout out assisted living communities for them, if he/they would like, as well as help with any moving logistics. I also told him that I’d be happy to run errands, help as needed, etc for them.

    I felt like such a b*tch saying all this, but I really needed to set expectations early, to save my mental health. My MIL tried to get us to spend an extra $300K to buy a bigger house so that she could move in with us and have her own room/bathroom (when she was 60 and perfectly healthy), so I’m a bit sensitive.

  38. “What’s the concern? That they will guilt trip your husband into giving them money?”

    It sounds like they are laying the groundwork.

    Send them a link to MMM.

  39. Rhett – It will probably be fine, you’re right. I think there will be asks from time to time for bigger things that won’t fit into that $4K (like a car) which we should be able to handle. It’s just mind boggling that they were living on $100K, and now that they get an extra $50K per year, they’re not saving any of it in advance of retirement. My MIL is just a spender.

  40. “– yesterday evening she called because she dropped her toothbrush in the toilet.”

    Austin – I’m trying to understand this. Did this mean you had to go over there immediately with a new toothbrush and retrieve the old one? Or did this mean you said “Oh that’s terrible. I can pick up a new one and bring it to you later.”?

    She could simply be lonely and not really need quite so much (of your) attention. When my grandmother was starting to lose it but still living at home, my mom and her sibs hired someone simply to visit with her and keep her company.

  41. Houston – I can totally understand your position on this. Which either means you’re not a b*tch, or we both are. :)

  42. ATM – I said “Oh that is awful, I’ll bring you one tomorrow when I bring your clean clothes.” On the positive side, she realizes she is forgetful and will call me right away while she still remembers what it is she needs. I know she is lonely, but in skilled nursing her meal schedule is pretty set, but her therapy varies day-to-day as to time and duration.

  43. @Austin — thanks for sharing, the detail and thinking you outlined is really helpful for me to understand what is coming.

    “After my father died, me and the “involved” sibling, were emotionally depleted. We could not be the supportive/attentive children my mother needed as she grieved the loss of her spouse in the months that followed.”

    Yeah, this. We have had none of the difficulties mentioned here, but I have still been surprised by the emotional needs of having my widowed mom a block away, even 2 years down the road. It makes me feel hugely grinchey even to mention it, because we’ve been so fortunate overall, but I have felt overwhelmed at times. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense: she’s lost her dinnertable companion, her email chatter, her let’s-sit-and-play-bridge and talk about inconsequential stuff pal. So now she has no one else to share the daily good/bad/ugly/inconsequential with, except me. We’ve both had to adjust — her to build back her social circle, me to make room in my head for her increased need for conversation and communication.

  44. Risley: Thanks. I don’t speak about our situation to our family/friends, so it’s nice to get some support/validation here.

  45. ATM – I said “Oh that is awful, I’ll bring you one tomorrow when I bring your clean clothes.”

    A better response would be “Tell the nurses and they will get you a new one.” You can also have the facility do her laundry.

  46. Houston – I support you 100%. Culturally, the older generation has this rosy view that everyone will live happily ever after. There are very very few situations where everyone was happy when the in laws moved in with them. When people are thinking of their living situations in retirement/when they need help, they need to think more broadly than what they *think* will make them happy.

  47. Houston, I’m with you on the cultural expectations train. Do you get a fancy title to go with the responsibility? I get to be First Brother’s Wife (I think my translated name is something like Algae or Pond Scum, so I’ll take the title).

    Austin, could your DDs do some of the emotional work? I didn’t talk to my grandparents regularly until college, when I got a long distance phone line and was homesick, but a 20 minute weekly call turned out to be a great way to build the relationships.

  48. I’ve complained about our hot mess before but here is a recap. FIL is in early to mid stages of dementia. Some days more lucid than others but cannot be left alone. His long time partner and he own a house and use his SS to cover the mortgage. She works, making minimum wage. We are expected to pay the cost of his caregivers for when she is at work. Caregivers include 2 of the partner’s grown children. We also pay his health insurance premium, cell phone bill, cable, and newspaper. We want him to move to assisted living as we do not think he gets any real stimulation at home but he is adamantly opposed as is partner. It is quite stressful as DH is the only surviving child and we are 10 hours away. FIL has no retirement savings due to poor decisions made over multiple decades. For MIL, we pay her LTC insurance premium which I view as an investment in my sanity as she won’t move in with us but I would love to spend that annual $5k on something else. Only bright spot is that my parents have responsibly planned for retirement and have been healthy so far. Caregiving can be crushing and I am not certain that you can appreciate it until you go through it.

  49. And on the other end of the sandwich…just got an email from DS’s teacher. DS has been having trouble in English, basically forever, but it is worse this year. He keeps bringing home assignments that DH, DD (770 on writing and reading portion of SAT), other DD and I cannot decipher or help him do. Sidenote, I HATED English. Analyzing literature always seemed like mind reading and I could never get it right. Anyway, DS took a test that called for the kids to determine whether a statement was objective or subjective. He did poorly, the family looked at the questions he missed, none of us figure out why his answers were wrong. I sent an email to the teacher basically saying, DS can’t figure this out and the adults can’t help him because we can’t figure it out. Can we meet so that you can explain what you are looking for?

    Yes, I know….

    Teacher says kids can come in, explain their answers for full credit, which is a good enough solution to a poorly written test. Still, he has no clue what he did wrong and how to answer correctly, which seems to be the core problem. So, now I have to figure out how to sweettalk the teacher into explaining what it is she wants on these types of assignments.

    And the kids once again asked to be homeschooled this morning;.

    Did not get a

  50. It is interesting to me that a few people think that because their parents are young that they might not have to deal with this soon.

    My mother is young because she had me at 24, but she fell. I found that once a parent falls, and needs to enter rehab – all bets are off. My mother fell right in front of my eyes at a lung for a relative. She has never really recovered, and I’ve been sucked into her life in a much more demanding way because she isn’t 100% independent. The one complicating factor is that my grandmother is still alive, and my mother has a lot of responsibilities for her since she is almost 98. When my mother was in rehab, or couldn’t drive -I had to assume some of that time. I am fortunate that my aunt lives nearby and I even got my father involved to help. This was a little nuts because they’ve been divorced for over 40 years, but it was helpful because he lives nearby.

    Today is typical of my sandwich days. I dropped off at school, and then went to pick up my father and stepmother because he had a medical procedure. He arranged to have my brother work from home so my brother was able to drive them home after the procedure.

    My father is independent, but he had a lot of health issues and I am not sure how much longer he will drive. My stepmother never learned to drive so this is going to become an issue. They live in doormen buildings, but in a part of the city that sort of requires a car or taxis.

    The year that my mother broke her leg was very difficult for me and I can’t imagine how I would have managed if I was working full time. I probably would have needed a leave of absence because even when she was in rehab, I had to do her laundry etc. I felt so bad for her roommate because she had no close family nearby and you actually wear you own clothes in
    this rehab place, and you need someone to do laundry for you. It took me a long time to accept that I have to spend more of my free time on stuff for my parents and now it is just part of my life. I am grateful that my brother is more involved than I expected him to be because I didn’t know how that would work.

    My FIL is actually the weakest link, but he remarried and his partner is much younger than him. She does all of the daily stuff, and it is very involved because he is almost 90 and he has many serious health issues. DH is the one to go out there because his brother lives far away, and his brother has serious health issues too.

  51. “We also pay his health insurance premium, cell phone bill, cable, and newspaper.”

    I hope this is not insensitive, but I’m wondering why someone with dementia would need a cell phone.

  52. Murphy, is there a community college nearby?

    My senior year in HS, I didn’t see any good choices for my social studies requirements, and I ended up taking classes at my local CC. The bonus in doing that was I also got CC credit which I could transfer to flagship U, which opened up time for me to take more engineering classes.

    Perhaps a CC might offer your DS a similar alternative for his English class, or for similar situations in the future.

  53. One of DD’s friends has a younger sister who got an iPhone when she was quite young, around 2nd grade IIRC. Her dad said one of the reasons for that was afterschool care took the kids all over campus, and so when he went to pick her up he’d use that to figure out where on campus she’d be.

  54. They don’t have a landline so they just use his cell. (No worries on being insensitive; the whole situation is such a mess you would have to laugh or you would sob.)

  55. Anon for this, what is his situation as far as a medical POA? If he hasn’t formally designated anyone, your DH can make a move to get appointed as his MPOA as the next of kin since FIL isn’t married to the partner. Then you can use that power to get him into a facility that you feel would serve him better. Alternately, you can just tell him and the partner that you will not provide any more money for home care but will help pay for him to move to an assisted living.

  56. “My father is independent, but he had a lot of health issues and I am not sure how much longer he will drive. My stepmother never learned to drive so this is going to become an issue. They live in doormen buildings, but in a part of the city that sort of requires a car or taxis.”

    Is the use of taxis financially untenable? Consider also that giving up driving will free up the money otherwise spent on having a car, e.g., registration, insurance, maintenance, fuel, could then be spent on taxis. I’m also guessing that where they live, they are either paying for parking, or if they have their own parking, that could be rented out, bringing in more money that could be used for taxis.

  57. It is interesting to me that a few people think that because their parents are young that they might not have to deal with this soon.

    Yup, you never know what will happen. My mom was diagnosed with cancer at 63 and died about 7 months later. Fortunately she was able to live indpendently until about the last 3 weeks or so, and we had in-home care for her. Things can happen at any time.

  58. “DS took a test that called for the kids to determine whether a statement was objective or subjective. He did poorly, the family looked at the questions he missed, none of us figure out why his answers were wrong.”

    AARRGGHHHHH. I am sorry. This is the worst. We have had a few of those, where the teacher just cannot quite seem to communicate the idea in a way that makes sense to any of us (which is a pretty low bar to pass, given that I was an English major and largely speak their language). But that specific assignment sounds sufficient objective (for lack of a better term) that the right answers should be relatively obvious, so how in the world can the teacher mess that up?

    I hope your son can hang in there. DD has always struggled with English, because there is so much focus on abstract concepts and deeper meanings (symbolism, what the author intended, etc.). She reads for plot and gets annoyed at those kinds of requests (direct quote from last week’s argument: “sometimes a blue door is just a blue door”). But there is a huge difference in her performance and enjoyment when she can find a teacher who at least speaks her language, instead of the floaty types who assume that all smart kids just love lit-er-ah-ture the way they do. So maybe next year will be better.

  59. Finn, I thought of that also, of using taxis. And there may be other reasons for driving him, but why wouldn’t he and stepmother use a taxi to go to and from the medical procedure? I hope you don’t think I’m being insensitive; I’m just curious.

    I feel for all of you who are dealing with this issue. I’m afraid I’m the “uninvolved” SIL in our situation, but there are reasons that I prefer not to disclose here. Still, I’m sure there are times I’m castigated by the main caregiver.

  60. Wonder if DD got those 2 yappy, annoying dogs to discourage me from ever moving in with her. My cats do not get along with those dogs. And the dogs get on my nerves. Ugh.

    Mission accomplished!

  61. English has been poorly taught in a consistent manner, per our experience. DS2 is struggling right now, and DS1 just puts up with the BS.

    A recent test that DS1 took was purely memorization of a novel. Who said what–no analysis. In AP English. One of the questions was actually “What was the drawing on the opening page of the book?”

  62. Thanks DD. Partner is FIL’s POA for medical and other issues. We have thought about withholding funds unless FIL moves to assisted living but he gets very agitated when we bring it up and says that he loves and wants to stay with Partner and he will die if he goes into assisted living. He is lucid enough to make these arguments but not lucid enough to have a logical discussion about the entire situation.

  63. LofB

    The right answers seem obvious, except that they are wrong. It could be that one of the questions relates to a the relative size of a storm. A storm, in our world, is a very concrete event that has a specific rainfall amount, lasts a certain duration and is watched very closely. There is nothing subjective about it.

    It is almost funny it is just that he has worked so hard, and was trying to very hard to do well. We do need for him to find the secret decoder ring, and I am trying to compose an email to the teacher that says, you need to explain what the keys to determining that this sentence is subjective is. If he needs to guess what an urban, lay person would view the sentence as, hmmm, not sure where we go.

  64. “She reads for plot and gets annoyed at those kinds of requests (direct quote from last week’s argument: “sometimes a blue door is just a blue door”). ”

    I read the Chronicles of Narnia many times without ever considering that it might be some sort of allegory, or anything other than a good series of stories.

    In college, one thing that helped with this was going to the library and reading other peoples’ analyses of the books I’d just read.

    BTW, DS told me he will have to read Tess of the D’Urbervilles soon. Is it just me, or did anyone else find that just a horribly boring and depressing way to spend a few hours that you will never get back?

  65. Rhett, no. I hope not. I just had lunch yesterday with two former colleagues that now work for Deutsche Bank. The bank is under a lot of pressure, but it is not my understanding that the bank is even close to that point. Several European banks are under pressure because there are so many new regulations that they have to comply with here and abroad. They’ve had to exit certain profitable business lines, and it hasn’t been easy to rebuild some of their other profit centers.

    Finn, yes. It just changes everything, and they don’t view the money the same way. My parents have access to local cab companies, Uber and even NYC taxis. The problem is using them when you have to call etc. They have garages or outdoor parking now in their building, so it is much easier with groceries and bad weather. My father can get in his car in an indoor garage and drive straight to Westchester where the store parking lots and doctor office lots are clear of snow. It is trickier when you have to walk from the front food of your building where there is snow/ice on sidewalks and curbs and into a cab. I know it will be convenient to age in place in a city, but it is hard in the winter when there is snow or ice.

  66. “If he needs to guess what an urban, lay person would view the sentence as, hmmm, not sure where we go.”

    Does the teacher have a different background from your DS, e.g., urban?

    I’m also wondering if there are others in the class who are similarly struggling. Has your DS talked about this with any of his classmates?

  67. Anon, that’s tough. An option would be for them to move together to a “retirement” or independent living facility. That way he can stay with her and get the care he needs during the day. But I’m guessing the partner would never go for it.

    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

  68. Finn, One other farm kid, who usually gets As on everything did worse than my son. One of the first things he brought up as justification for his performance was that this little girl did worse. The teacher is an urbanite. Not as bad as some, we haven’t dealt with pesticide bashing or farmer bashing with her. It could be in literature land, storms are a subjective thing, in farm kidland, as soon as the storm ends, dad calls the experiment station to see how much rain fell.

  69. “It could be that one of the questions relates to a the relative size of a storm. A storm, in our world, is a very concrete event that has a specific rainfall amount, lasts a certain duration and is watched very closely. There is nothing subjective about it.”

    Well, I’m an urban lay person, and a storm seems pretty objective to me, too. They must be working pretty hard to come up with tricky ways to turn objective things into subjective, and vice-versa. Reminds me of the one time DH and I got into it with DD’s math teacher: there was a question about a series of coin flips all coming up heads, and then the question was: based on *experience*, what would the next flip be. DD of course answered that it was just as likely to be heads or tails, and was marked wrong. DH went bat guano over the stupidity of a question that requires a child to give the “wrong” answer to be marked right.

  70. I have a school issue too,one which I have now wasted most of my day on despite the fact that I have a lot of real (as in employer-based) work to do. The GateKeepers of the Honors Kingdom have reared their ugly little heads again, this time with DS2.

    Has anyone ever heard of this before: basing the kid’s eligibility for an honors course solely on the first two quarters of the year before, and requiring a 95 or above, or a 92 with assessment test? The first two quarters??? That is only 50% of the course, and one shaky quarter is killer. When DS1 went through, they at least based it on three quarters worth.

  71. “In college, one thing that helped with this was going to the library and reading other peoples’ analyses of the books I’d just read.”

    @Finn — DD has now started to say “I need to start with the [XX] Notes version” for more complex books. I was always taught that those were sort of the cheater versions for kids who didn’t want to be bothered to read the real thing, but I see through her that it can actually be a good intro into some of that abstract stuff for kids who think like her.

  72. Murphy,

    I understand where you are coming from, trust me I do. But, dealing with the world as it is vs. how we think it should be: Would it be helpful to explain that his job isn’t to give the “right” answer, it’s to tell the teacher what he wants to hear?

  73. MooshiMooshi, my sister in arms, I have been in discussions with the junior high since September about the fact that kids are tracked into a high math class based on their 6th grade performance and teacher evaluation, but no one inform the parents that this tracking is going to occur. Getting onto the high math class determines whether the kids can take AP Stats or Calc. One of the sixth grade teachers recommends very few boys for the high track. If a child comes from a religious, ag, or small business family, it is often even more difficult.

  74. Rhett,
    He understands that his job is to give the right answer. We just can’t figure out what it is. That is why I need the teacher to explain the code words.

  75. I saw the topic as Baby WCE and I were sitting down to Skype with my Dad after his hip replacement on Monday. My sister drove 10 hours back from Michigan to be with him and will spend the week, I suspect. She’ll end up burning some vacation and working remotely some. She’ll probably wind up there again the end of March, when the other hip is scheduled. My brothers have less flexible jobs and young children. Other than acknowledge all that she does (she was also there for the last ~3 weeks of my mom’s life), I’m not sure we could/should do anything differently. When my brother’s family saw my mom at my grandmother’s funeral, my three year old nephew crashed into my mom and hurt her. When eldercare collides with young children, I don’t know what the answer is.

    I loved Bay Area Mom’s 12:12 post.

    Whoever has a tall father with arthritic knees, is he a candidate for knee replacement? Due to technology improvements, people who weren’t candidates a decade ago may be candidates now.

  76. “there was a question about a series of coin flips all coming up heads, and then the question was: based on *experience*, what would the next flip be. DD of course answered that it was just as likely to be heads or tails, and was marked wrong.”

    If the flips are all coming up heads, that would suggest to me that the coin had heads on both sides, and therefore I would expect the next flip to also be heads.

  77. Mooshi, my experience with honors/AP classes was that it was always based on subjective teacher recommendations, not specific grade requirements.

  78. Murphy, congrats to your daughter. Merging the last two days of discussion, my Dad was amused that a few of our teachers came to see us at my Mom’s visitation- our family was sufficiently memorable in our district that they wanted to check up on us.

    When you die, the teachers may say nice things to your daughter.

  79. Murphy and Mooshi, is there a way to get to the advanced class later? There were some classmates of mine who were not recommended for the highest level math, but were allowed to take a math class during summer school and moved ahead the next year anyway.

  80. “If the flips are all coming up heads, that would suggest to me that the coin had heads on both sides, and therefore I would expect the next flip to also be heads.”

    Depends if the question stated whether it was a fair coin. If it was a fair coin, the flips are independent, and heads or tails are equally likely. Also, if based on experience, LofB’s DD could explain that in her life experience dad had told the coin flipping experiment a gazillion times and so she knew the answer.

  81. Once again, a discussion here has me appreciating my kids’ school

    It seems like their bar of entry into honors classes is pretty low, and who stays in those classes is determined in a manner similar to the Peter principle. There are certain expectations in honors classes, and the school will help move to non-honors classes those kids that struggle to meet those expectations. Kids get the opportunity to show they belong in that track.

    It’s not unlike the College of Engineering back in my day.

  82. Sky, my son is in the advanced class. I am just terribly irritated that all three of my kids have friends who have denied opportunities because they have a normal person as a mother, instead of someone like me. And I am tired of consoling 16 year olds who realize that their life is a little harder than it needs to be because they can’t get into AP classes and that it will be harder to get in and pay for college.

    So, since I am THAT parent, I made it my mission to make sure that the sixth grade parents know the stakes and at least have an opportunity to take action. As of Monday, I have my victory for the year.

  83. Sky, we don’t have summer school here, and the district does not accept credits from other sources. They keep claiming that “of course a student can demonstrate excellent performance and qualify in a subsequent year” but when I asked the guidance counselor today whether she could tell me if anyone had ever actually done that, or what number would demonstrate “excellent performance”, she just kind of blinked and said she hadn’t heard of it happenng.

  84. OK, so since it’s almost 5, I gotta admit the Apple love is fading, because of one stupid little thing that I can’t fix — hoping others can suggest something. For some reason, my Safari has gotten it into its stupid little head to auto-correct my email address. Like many, it’s first-initial-last-name, but I start typing, and as soon as I hit the @, it drops the first initial. Every. Single. Time. I have to notice the little drop-down option box when it shows up, stop what I’m doing, and click the x, but I’m usually going to fast even to notice. I have gone to the auto-correct options, preferences, substitutions, etc., and I don’t see it in there, and I don’t see any way to fix it. And of course it’s a teensy problem that recurs 100 times a day, as I send someone my email, or enter info on a website, or whatever it is — I am pretty sure my recent car reservation didn’t show up because I forgot to check for the auto-correct. I don’t know how this even got in there anyway, as it’s not like my name is a common word or anything.

    So: ideas??

  85. Murphy, it is the same situation here – you can’t get into the AP courses without having done the honors track. And yes, it makes life harder for those kids who were cut out, in middle school when they don’t really understand what it means.

  86. “Depends if the question stated whether it was a fair coin.”

    ITA.

    However, if that was not stated (and LfB did not mention it), then the number of consecutive heads should be taken into account, and the odds against such a series could be cited as suggesting the coin was not fair.

  87. LfB,

    Curiously, the only way to permanently make the iPhone “learn” the specific words and not autocorrect them is to type them while using Safari (people tend to use the Google Search Bar for simplicity’s sake). For whatever reason, performing the same task in other Apps won’t make the iPhone “learn” the word. So, once you’re in Safari, begin typing the troublesome word and once the suggestion appears, hit the “x”. Do this about 3 more times and the iPhone should finally learn the new word.

    Or, is your issue that it doesn’t prompt you that it’s about to auto-correct?

  88. When you die, the teachers may say nice things to your daughter.

    I suspect some will come to funeral to dance on my grave.

  89. To pile on the “what are these schools doing” topic, here’s ours. Our wonderful new principal has decided to change the format for the upcoming conferences. Rather than meeting with the teachers, they are now doing “student-led” conferences, and the teachers won’t be there at all. According to DS, parents will meet with their student and their advisor. The advisors will not talk at all, the students will give an overview of their grades to their parents and their plans to fix them, if needed.

    The whole point of conferences is to talk to the teachers. We can talk to the kids any time we want, we don’t need to go to school to do it. This is so freaking stupid.

  90. Mooshi, that is our reactions as well. This is what the kids are telling us. We’ll see how it plays out.

  91. DD, we had student-led conferences for 4th and 5th grades, but is was with their lead teachers present as well, and the students left and went back to class for the second half of the conferences.

    Perhaps you can ask the teacher if you can meet with them directly, and skip the student-led conference?

  92. Finn, we are going to go because I don’t think it’s fair to complain about it (which we will do) unless we actually go through it. We will also be asking all of their teachers (there are 6 that we would have conferences with) to meet directly.

    Murphy, there is none yet. They haven’t officially announced this to the parents, they only had a sentence in the newsletter last week about “a new format for conferences”.

  93. Just got back an email from the teacher. Apparently measurement is subjective because how people measure a storm is different. Not sure how to respond, Any suggestions? At this point, I think we need the secret decoder ring, but I have no idea how to ask for that.

  94. I had a small victory about math in my district. The math program and tracking are s big secret. Similar to others, you need to be in single honors or double honors math by 7th grade or you’re practically shut out of AP math and potentially AP sciences in HS. Many people don’t know so I asked for an information meeting for parents of 4th to 8th graders. PTA would co sponsor at night. Just information.
    District superintendent said no and principal said no. They said that they have meetings for HS parents and middle school parents that are selected for honors test. I explained that parents of younger kids need to know. I approached two Board of Ed members and they told Superintendent to have meeting. It’s scheduled for later this month. Murphy is right that too many parents just don’t know and then it’s too late.

    Our middle school had ten data points to be considered for 6th grade honors. There are team taught and co taught math classes for kids that need more help. They should just share the information about the different classes instead of keeping everything a secret.

  95. The objective statement:

    Of the trees that fell into the river, a number came up like beached whales.

  96. @Rhett: You have the Q right, but it’s on my main computer, not my iPhone — my iPhone doesn’t do this stupidity.

    “Apparently measurement is subjective because how people measure a storm is different. Not sure how to respond, Any suggestions?”

    “You are too effing stupid to teach XX grade.”

    Seriously — is this opposite day? 1984? Wasn’t the whole process of standardized measurements a way to turn the subjective into the objective? Or does an F5 tornado mean something different based on whether I’ve got PMS?

  97. I would say the storm statement is subjective. There isn’t anything specific given. I would say the trees statement is also subjective because it doesn’t give the actual number. “A number” is subjective, IMO.

  98. Channeling Rhett,…need to figure out how my son can do well in this class so that he gets into the higher class next year, so that he is on the college track and can use his math skills to become an aeronautical engineer.

  99. To be clear, I don’t get the teacher’s reasoning about the storm statement at all. But I think “against which all other storms were to be measured” is subjective because it doesn’t give specific data about the storm. I equate the statement to “A really big storm came”, as opposed to “a storm came that dropped 1.7 inches of rain.”

  100. According to the teacher the tree statement is objective because they are using a simile to describe what is seen.

  101. The storm statement, I could see being interpreted as “it was the biggest storm ever” or “the storm dropped 5 inches of rain in 2 hours”. Neither is stated in the question, so the issue becomes how do you know which is implied.

    Why someone viewing trees coming up as beached whales as opposed to drowning unicorns is objective is beyond me.

  102. A storm came this year, against which all other storms were to be measured

    That’s pretty clearly subjective.

    If they said, “With a central pressure of 928 millibars it was the most intense typhoon to date.”

    That would be objective.

  103. Murphy: WTF???? What an insane assignment. However, based on our experience, I’m not surprised.

  104. According to the teacher the tree statement is objective because they are using a simile to describe what is seen.

    That’s just stupid because similies are inherently subjective.

  105. Maybe it is my professional bias. In my previous life, measuring storms was part of what we did, and they were measured against each other. So comparing one storm to another is like comparing the yield of one field to another. Or comparing one stock price to another. Or comparing p/e ratios of various stocks.

    So, what makes it subjective? I guess what I need are the key words.

    If the sentence was “A baseball scores came this year, against which all other baseball scores were to be measured, would that be subjective”?

  106. According to the teacher the tree statement is objective because they are using a simile to describe what is seen.

    That’s nonsense.

  107. Good heavens, this is worse than my last literature class (11th grade, American Lit) where no one read the books.

  108. If the sentence was “A baseball scores came this year, against which all other baseball scores were to be measured, would that be subjective”?

    Let me retry:
    If the sentence was “A baseball score came this year, against which all other baseball scores were to be measured”, would that be subjective?

  109. Houston, when my SIL was worn down from caregiving for my extraordinarily, intentionally difficult MIL, she wanted to send her to us. Before we even discussed it, my BIL called and said put her in assisted living. My DH agreed, so my SIL kept her a few more months before it became clear it wasn’t going to work and she went into a home. We paid for a lot, but at 7 hours away were not hands on. You do what you can. I applaud you for being clear up front, rather than getting into a situation where resentment is simmering. I am constantly talking up what I view as the positives of retirement communities to my parents.

  110. Yes, I would say the baseball score statement is subjective because there is no specific, objective information given. “against with all others were to be measured” is a subjective statement whether you are talking about storms, baseball scores or anything else.

  111. Oh, Jesus, murphy, those examples are insane. Other than telling the teacher “these words, I do not think they mean what you think they mean”, I have no guidance.

    DD has now started to say “I need to start with the [XX] Notes version” for more complex books. I was always taught that those were sort of the cheater versions for kids who didn’t want to be bothered to read the real thing, but I see through her that it can actually be a good intro into some of that abstract stuff for kids who think like her.

    Ah, time for my Cliff’s Notes rant! Excellent. I love the old Cliff’s Notes from the 1960s. They were written by university faculty and they were tough. I used them the way you’re supposed to, i.e., to supplement reading the actual novel and I used the sample questions to test my understanding. Sometimes I’d even write answers to the essay questions for fun, just to see if I could do it. I love those old things. The newer ones, however, are dumb and dumber, and they’re written by high school teachers, and they spoon-feed you stuff and don’t have helpful review questions. If I’m browsing a used-book store and I see the old editions of Cliff’s Notes, I’ll snatch them up. I have a little collection, and sometimes they prompt me to re-read something. But if you’re ever really bored, get a new edition of, say, the Notes for A Tale of Two Cities and compare it to the old edition, and weep.

  112. Wait — why is comparative inherently subjective? This week’s tornado is bigger than last week’s — yes, because last week’s was an F3, and this week’s was an F4. It is capable of objective measurement, even if the measurements are not stated in the sentence. If they said “more horrible,” that is inherently subjective.

    The only objective thing about the trees is that they reference a “number.” Whether they looked like beached whales or floating unicorns is subjective.

    I think this is a perfect example of making questions much harder than they need to be to illustrate the point. So is that an objective or subjective statement?

  113. If the sentence was “A baseball score came this year, against which all other baseball scores were to be measured”, would that be subjective?

    That’s neither objective nor subjective. I mean, “A baseball score came this year” might be true or it might be false. It might be true or it might be false that other scores will be measured against it. But given what you’ve told us so far, that’s not what she’s asking. I have no idea what she’s asking. Why don’t you ask her, “What if a baseball score came in that was so high that none higher could be imagined? Does that mean that its existence is necessary? Because wouldn’t it be the case that the highest imaginable score would have to exist?” Just to see what she says. And you know, homeschooling isn’t a terrible option.

  114. Why don’t you ask her, “What if a baseball score came in that was so high that none higher could be imagined? Does that mean that its existence is necessary? Because wouldn’t it be the case that the highest imaginable score would have to exist?”

    I suspect that might get the teachers dancing on my grave a little sooner than I would like. Otherwise, great idea.

  115. Murphy, your son is going to be SO motivated to enter aeronautical engineering. Once admitted to the program, he will never have to consider anything literary ever again in his entire life.

    If my kids were in your district, I think we’d on-line homeschool for high school. I’m a terrible teacher, especially of my own children, but anything would be better than what you describe. In fact, your story reminds me of the exchange that got me called to the principal’s office during calculus, the hour after sociology.
    Sociology Teacher (hereafter ST): Why are you leaving your seat?
    WCE: I want to discuss some of the questions you marked wrong on my test.
    ST: We can discuss in front of the class. Stay in your seat. The questions are straight out of the textbook and there is no ambiguity because they are true/false.
    WCE: If a statement is from the textbook, does that make it true?
    ST: Of course.
    WCE: I said question 7 is true and you marked it incorrect. Please turn to page 347 and read me the third sentence of column 2, paragraph 2. (sentence is the statement in question 7)
    ST: You’re an arrogant little b*&.
    WCE: You’re the one that wanted to have this discussion in front of the entire class.

    Ah, yes, high school.

  116. Once admitted to the program, he will never have to consider anything literary ever again in his entire life.

    He hasn’t considered anything literary thus far, either.

  117. WCE…high school, where the bullies rule. I had a similar experience in history, where on a multiple choice test, there were two correct answers, both out of the text book. However, the history teacher was confident in his authority and knowledge. He never gave me the two points, but it became a joke between us. He respected me for standing up for myself and wrote me a very nice letter of recommendation. Sometimes I regret not appreciating my high school teachers more.

  118. I’m already doing partial online high school with my compliant child and it is emotionally draining. I want to just be the mom instead of the teacher.

  119. It’s subjective because “against which all other storms were to be measured” is an expression that means great or big or such. As in “this storm was so fierce that it set the standard by which all storms will be measured. “

  120. As in “this storm was so fierce that it set the standard by which all storms will be measured. “

    Yeah, I’m still not getting it. “This storm was fierce” is subjective. “This storm was a Category 5 storm” is objective.

  121. Murphy, the principal and I agreed that it would be best for both of us if I spent the rest of the semester on independent study. I read plays by Aristophanes. I was a polarizing figure in my high school and in this teacher’s mind, I was a negative pole.

    Reading RMS, LfB and Meme, among others, has helped me understand why people like literature.

  122. WCE, I have long felt that confident men are comfortable with strong women, and I have been fortunate to find a number of them to work with and one to marry. Unfortunately, there are many types of people who do not like strong women. Based on my daughter’s experiences, the high schools are full of people who do not like strong women.

  123. Murphy, fascinating comment that I think I completely agree with.

    I’m not sure how much of it is not liking people who are strong, in general, and how much is not liking women who don’t conform to gender stereotypes. We’ve talked often about how “professional women” conform to particular norms of hair, make-up and clothing. Gay men have often considered me to be a fascinating and witty companion.

  124. On topic. My mom needed long distance monitoring and weekly support in her very suitable apartment for about 4 years before she was moved into asstd living near me (we were buying a house at that time and she refused to let us buy one with room for her, something my South Asian colleagues found astonishing.) There was a neighbor who took her grocery shopping, I flew down a lot, and two years before she had to leave her home DD2 moved nearby at 23 years old to help out, against my wishes, but she was determined.

    Even without cognitive decline (by that I mean more than senior moment forgetfulness, but short of demonstrable dementia), older folks can’t or won’t learn new tricks. For someone who hasn’t used cabs in many years, if ever, calling a cab to come to the house to go someplace might work, but the return journey, getting a cab on a busy street or calling one and figuring out where to wait when there is no place to sit or the entrance to the building is on the parking lot side, well you get the idea. A car service sounds great and even if the bill gets sent to me, but elderly thriftiness will never stand for it. They just refuse, and that is, assuming that the brain and hearing are working well enough to make the call and get the details right. If the doctor says, go to PT for six weeks twice a week at this address – with no family or paid caregiver to provide personal transportation, that is worthless advice.

    At the asst’d living, everything has to be arranged and much is extra cost , including medication administration, laundry, meals delivered to the room, daily dressing help, more than one supervised shower a week, etc. I remember the daily phone calls (even a person with dementia can manage a speed dial) about how somebody stole my eyeglasses or my red sweater. The call about the toothbrush in the toilet is classic. Embarrassment at being clumsy. I don’t want to bother the nurse/aide, or knowledge that calling might not result in a prompt and supportive reply. Reassurance that daughter in on the shortest of leashes. Loneliness, so much loneliness.

    I was privileged to care locally for my Mom during the last couple of years of her life, but it was a constant drain (I was in my late 50s, working full time, but my kids were all out of the house and out of college by then. The cell phone was never off and i had to find some sort of carry bag to keep it at my side if there were no pockets, and batteries were a lot worse then. When taking her in the car to an appointment I carried in the trunk a green garbage bag with a box of wipes, a towel and full change of clothes (used once). She got sweeter in her late life, not nastier, and the day she died there was no unfinished business. I was an only child, so none of the sib issues reared their ugly heads. I preferred being the only one to make decisions and have the duty.

  125. Off topic, but in support of WCE, my 6th grade teacher hated science. Science was the period before lunch. She would wave hands at the lesson and then tell us how much she missed her two little girls at home. She was the wife of a minor diplomatic functionary at the Canadian embassy and needed the money. Finally one day I had had it and stood up in class and told her that it was not appropriate for her to use up our science instruction period complaining that she didn’t want to be working and talking about her children.

  126. Even elders with money or LTC (and then you have to fight the insurance company for the money) need a caregiver and/or advocate. I still had to manage every detail when she couldn’t do it any longer, and I should have stepped in about 3 years earlier but was unaware from 450 miles away of how much she was declining. The non hands on siblings might be willing to pay for a senior care manager who gets full paperwork to act as a surrogate child and take the elder to appointments, to deal with the asst’d living management, to hire extra aides.

  127. When I was in high school my world history/government teacher kept saying that Karl Marx was a Soviet dictator. About midway through spring semester of my senior year, I couldn’t take it anymore and pointed out exactly who the Soviet dictators had been.

  128. Our parents are in their 60’s and are relatively healthy, although FIL had a heart attack earlier this year. He is recovering well.

    One of the reasons that we put away so much for an early retirement is in case we need to retire early to help parents vs

    Our parents should both be financially set for long lives, but I would like to be able to help them physically and emotionally. Especially my parents – my brothers won’t be great with that, and one lives 1000 miles away while I am only 200 miles away. DH has many more nearby siblings.

  129. Reading through – Mooshi and Murphy – thanks for the heads up on administration not communicating requirements for honors tracks. So far nothing has been said at kid’s school but as Rhett pointed out the way it works depends on past grades and teacher recommendations. I have let DS know. If I was blindsided and didn’t know the requirements I would be mad.
    Grammar is not going good for him. It will always be a weak spot.
    I think both sentences that Murphy mentioned are objective. The first one deals with measurement something which is objective, the second one deals with numbers again something which is objective.

  130. Murphy – those exercise brought back memories of my English teacher. Mine was a small school so I had the same English teacher for a few years. OTOH we hated our science teacher and I am pretty sure, her meaness discouraged a few of us from going into science.

  131. Meme, your comments and advice are so important because even Totebaggers that plan or have adequate savings will still need help as they age. The best example of this is a recent situation I had with my mom when she had another fracture in her leg. She was sent home the same day since she was not having surgery or going to rehab. The ER doctor prescribed a painkiller. It couldn’t be delivered because my mother was unable to get from her bed to the front door to accept the delivery. I had to be there, or make an arrangement for another one of my relatives to be there until we could arrange for paid help.

    I don’t think many people realize how many days it can take to arrange for a visiting nurse or an aide. It has been my experience that if this happens on a Friday afternoon or weekend, you may have to wait until Monday for someone to visit your home to assess what services you may need.

    Even someone without a child should think about a niece or nephew, younger friend or someone that you really trust to advocate on your behalf with hospitals, doctors and social workers. My mother still works in the very hospital that I used for her ER visit, but I still had to make sure she had food, and find the hospitalist to get the proper follow up papers etc.

    I am aware of the privilege of having my parents and my grandmother at this age, but I appreciate your experience because I think that some people underestimate the amount of effort this requires even if your parents saved a ton of money or have LTC insurance.

  132. My aunt (55) supervises the care of my 105 year old childless great aunt. My aunt is the youngest niece/nephew by ~12 years. My sister is a generous person who understands how hard it would be for any of the rest of us siblings to do the caregiving she’s done this year, but she also has considered, I think, that one of these little nieces or nephews may be supervising her care someday.

  133. Lauren. I think that tonight’s property bros is the one you have been waiting for. Family buying a home in Stamford while camping out with other friends because their house sold too quickly. In any case, even though I didn’t have real estate sticker shock on the price of the small center stairway colonial, I had a WTF moment when I realized that for the reno money they only got a kitchen and master bath a couple of closets and some furniture and decoration, two of the rooms were wall papered intentionally and they converted the dining room into a family room, and always eat at the giant island. Maybe they will stick a seldom used dining table at one end of the non renovated never to be used living room on the other side of the center stairs (not part of the reveal).

  134. I think both sentences that Murphy mentioned are objective. The first one deals with measurement something which is objective, the second one deals with numbers again something which is objective.

    The fact that people here can have such differing opinions on these shows how poor these questions are.

  135. Please don’t take a loved one to the ER to facilitate placement! This happens all the time, and rarely turns out well. “We just can’t take care of her anymore.” What happens, at that point, is that the doctors will fish around to find an admittable diagnosis (perhaps pneumonia, or a UTI with mental status changes). Usually, no such diagnosis is found. If it is, then the patient can be admitted. If they have medicare, and they are inpatients for three midnights, and they have the potential to improve functional status, these patients can be in a Medicare paid rehab facility, for 100(ish) days. This is usually an easy placement, as Medicare is a good payor.

    If the person doesn’t have an admittable diagnosis (a UTI without complications, chronic back pain, chest pain without objective findings – there are lists of these things which are frequently consulted) then they are usually admitted as “observation” status. The reason behind that is complicated, but the patient will pay much more out of pocket for the hospitalization. And they won’t qualify for rehab. And the social worker will start in the morning trying to find a placement, any placement – and expect the patient to pay for it. If the patient can’t pay, they are expected to apply for Medicaid. Medicaid placement is harder, as it is not a good payor.

    I have shared this before, but it is a good explanation of how to work the system.

    http://thehappyhospitalist.blogspot.com/2012/07/Three-Midnight-Rule-Medicare-SNF-Nursing-Home-Stay.html

  136. “Even without cognitive decline (by that I mean more than senior moment forgetfulness, but short of demonstrable dementia), older folks can’t or won’t learn new tricks.”

    What determines who will be the exceptions to this? I have some elder role models that forged ahead with learning “new tricks” or otherwise remained relatively independent as they aged. It seems to take an element of stubbornness, which can manifest itself unattractively (mean old SOB) or more pleasantly (sweet but determined). My role models have weathered death, disease, and other hardships without relying heavily on caregivers. They relish life, and seem either oblivious to risks or willing to assume some risk in their adventures in senior life. And even though they sometimes appear ruthless and calculating, at their core they have a loving and generous spirit. Do you all know people like this?

  137. This relates to our discussion here, and notice that schools are included as one of the easier aspects of our lives.  Hmm

    Another source of a working daughter’s stress stems from the fact that eldercare is not a problem that can be solved with money. “That’s a part of what makes it so much different and harder than raising a child,” says Tumlinson. “As a society we are organized reasonably well to support parents. If you have enough money you can get high-quality day care. There are schools that educate your child for a better part of the day. But even if you have the money to pay for a caregiver, even when they are the Mary Poppins for the elderly, it doesn’t mean your parents want them. Eldercare requires a high amount of emotional engagement that only a family member can provide. It’s not a situation where economically advantaged women are spared. I know lots of very accomplished women with lots of degrees who have dropped out.”

  138. Ya know, I wish that Atlantic article hadn’t set it up as “caregiving is harder than childrearing.” “When you are caring for a child, it doesn’t threaten your identity” — are you effing kidding me? Read any good literature written by women? Lived somewhere where every single person knew you as “DH’s wife” or “DD’s mom”? Sheesh! I’m thinking there’s a good story in there that they slid by about how caregivers are screwed, period — first you take a few years off or very part-time to take care of your kids when they’re young, and then when they are older and you are just getting back in the swing of things, you have to start repeating the process with your parents. It’s cumulative, not competitive.

  139. To a much greater degree than child care, you can “opt out” of eldercare. FIL refuses help, things have kind of gone to crap (utilities shut off at times – not for lack of money, but for lack of organization). DH has washed his hands of most of it – we live 1000 miles away, and the help offered is not the help wanted.

  140. In a related cautionary tale, there exists a POA for FIL that states that if two physicians deem him “incompetent” then DH can take over as POA. This had to be something dreamed up by a lawyer without experience in eldercare.

    Several times in the past few years, FIL has been hospitalized. The SW calls us, states “he can’t take care of himself, he says he wants to go home, but he won’t be safe, we can’t release him.” We explain the FIL rejects the alternatives we are able to help with, and we can’t force him to do anything. HOWEVER, if s/he would just get the doctors to sign a paper that says he is not able to care for himself, we would be happy to step in. Suddenly, every story changes – “well, we can’t really say that he is incompetent, that is a legal definition, maybe contact his primary? We’ll be putting him in a cab this afternoon.” The primary doc is actually willing to sign, if we can find a neurologist. The neurologists in the hospital say they don’t know him well enough and aren’t willing. It is ridiculous – and not what FIL would have wanted. We have looked into guardianship (or whatever the approp legal definition is), but I don’t think that he is far gone enough that we could be certain to win a court battle – and then we would have permanently burned the bridges.

    Anyway, a rambling story to say that legal documents don’t always intersect with reality in health care the way you might imagine they would.

  141. Interesting new MMM article on the benefits of outsourcing your taxes. One thing I noticed, though, was that the primary benefit from the reorg structure he talks about is minimizing the amount of SS/medicare tax paid. But he doesn’t mention the difference in SS payouts at retirement if you have @30 years of the SS max income vs. 30 years at @$60K. I assume his answer would be that you’d get a better return investing the @$6K yourself every year, but I’d be interested to know what the delta would actually be, given that SS functions like a pretty darn good annuity. It’s just interesting to me, because SS is the only area where you personally get more out when you put more in — seems like a strange area to focus your tax-cutting strategies.

  142. It seems to take an element of stubbornness

    I think it’s more determination that stubbornness. A determination to learn new things, keep your mind active, make new friends, stay active, etc.

  143. Meme, all of the new episodes on Wednesdays at 9 are houses from Fairfield or Westchester counties. We try to identify the towns by certain landmarks or restaurants. The prices and problems remind me too much of my own home!

  144. even when they are the Mary Poppins for the elderly, it doesn’t mean your parents want them.

    Then too bad for them.

  145. Then too bad for them.

    I haven’t done a controlled study, and I know Rhett’s case is different, but this kind of comment almost always comes from the men on this group.

  146. I didn’t really finish my thought. It took 19 months of having my mother in my home before I snapped and put her in assisted living utterly against her wishes. Of course 2 weeks later she loved it. Maybe we women should develop a “sucks to be you, then” attitude with our parents. But believe me, I know how hard that is.

  147. My mom learned to use a computer in her 80s. It was tough going, especially because she had to use DSL not broadband in her building, but she had email, the printer and some of the early online video art tours. Every email she sent or received she printed and filed, just like the carbons of her letters. (She used to type and inserted the letter in a pretty blank card.) She was a court reporter, so she was a master typist in her working life. But she would never use it for commerce and remote ordering was not common then. She never had a serious fall and wore her hearing aids every day. So she was perfectly fine till about 87, a determined old person as CoC described. But when she stopped driving and most importantly when she couldn’t manage public transit any more, she was not able to go grocery shopping or use taxis or special transit, and that was years before she handed me at 90 her 13 column ledger book and her checkbook and said, I can’t do this anymore. So there were 6 difficult and declining years to go, only the last 2 1/2 with her fully supervised.

    DH’s lawyer drew up new docs for him, and his financial POA requires the sort of doctor’s certificates Ada described, instead of a durable POA that allows the attorney in fact (me) to pay bills he were laid up for a few weeks. He is stubborn that way, but since all his periodic payments go into the joint account, I let it go. All of the investments and the house are under my control, anyway. The health Care proxy in MA, if it is the spouse, is smooth sailing. He was sitting in the ER fully awake and they preferred that I sign everything. Mom updated her papers at 85, plus she had all her accounts put in joint name with me, and had a revocable trust with me as successor trustee. I only had one investment firm that made trouble requiring a medallion instead of a notarized statement.

  148. My inlaws want to keep doing things like cooking, cleaning but as they age these are becoming more difficult. The fact of the matter is that my MIL doesn’t think I do a good enough job and has declined any offers of help. When they were younger they could manage quite well but never thought that the day would come when such arrogance would get them nowhere. So, like Ada I don’t ask or offer help.

  149. CoC, my DH’s mother, at 89, exemplifies a lot of what you describe. She can still drive, enjoys discussing the news and the latest movies, loves going out to lunch with her ex-nurse friends (who were younger colleagues when they worked, but are now in their 70’s), and is generally considered to be the life of the party. She is still living in the home where she raised her children.

    But… I can see that she tires so much faster now, and she can no longer reach into cabinets so everything is kept on counters. A big factor in her ability to stay in her home is that she has a huge number of children, adult grandchildren, and great grandchildren who live in the same town and who are constantly in her house, hanging out AND doing the little chores that must be done.

    The more I watch people age, the more I realize that having your adult children nearby is critical.

  150. My MIL had said on many occasions that she wants to pass away quickly and not linger on. Well, her own mother lived into her 90s and she herself is generally healthy, so she may not get what she wishes for.

  151. LfB – There is nothing fancy in what MMM has done. I assumed before clicking thru it was an S corp. If you read the whole article, the savings are two fold. The S corp pays half the SS and Medicare tax because MMM is longer technically self employed as he would be in a pass thru LLC. That half is deductible from his pass thru income as a business expense of the S corp. Two, they divided the owners’ salary allotments unequally so that MMM exceeds by a lot the Max SS threshold (saving SS but not medicare), but Mrs. MMM gets peanuts from the business. So her SS payout on her own account will be lower at retirement by this strategy. Perhaps there are articles elsewhere on how her financial situation is protected in the MMM universe, but I don’t actually know whether marital dissolution is ever addressed – it is far to expensive to contemplate and would undo 100% of the years of moving fridges on bicycles.

  152. The reason is not money savings but the fundamental recipe for human happiness: you must remain challenged and keep learning throughout your lifetime.

    I swear MMM works harder at being retired than I do working.

  153. Meme and Ada – I always recommend the durable power of attorney because of the situation described. Physicians are always reluctant to issue a certificate of incompetency and then if the patient can’t take care of him/herself but there is no certificate, no one else is authorized to do it without a full-on guardianship proceeding.

  154. My MIL had said on many occasions that she wants to pass away quickly and not linger on. Well, her own mother lived into her 90s and she herself is generally healthy, so she may not get what she wishes for.

    If you age well, you’re more likely to have a quick decline because when you something hits you in your 90s, it’s a lot harder to get through it than in your 70s.

  155. “The more I watch people age, the more I realize that having your adult children nearby is critical.”

    I have been thinking about this lately re DW and me. Neither of us live near our parents, but we each have a sister who lives near each set and who is very involved in their lives. In DW’s case she can get to them at their regular house in ~5 hrs and since the only kid we still have at home is 16, really no worries if she were to call/txt me and say…gotta go to (parents’ town) today; don’t know when I’ll be back; call you later…

    Back to DW & me. Knowing our life experience of moving (far) away from where our parents live, it’s kind of unreasonable to expect our kids to stick around us on just general principles. If we lived in a place with an expansive economy where there are lots of opportunities for them to build a career, have a great social life, etc. my view might be somewhat different, but probably I want them to go out in the world, have broad experiences of their own making, start careers etc etc no matter what. If after a while they decide moving near us whether here or someplace else is the right move for them, that’s fine.

    Still and all, as our youngest gets ready to apply for college in the fall, I start thinking about how it might, just maybe, be nice if he picks a fairly local college. Not because we need as he refers to it whenever he helps me with anything as “assisted living”. I might just miss him.

    And then as we actually do age, having someone around who(m) we trust might actually be important.

  156. That Atlantic article annoyed me. Why focus only on women? Don’t men have caregiving responsibilities, too?

    To Louise and DD’s comments: DH’s grandmothers are both 92+ and are living miserable lives. One has advanced Alzheimer’s and does not recognize anyone and is either out of it or belligerent. The other has been physically declining physically for years and now needs constant attention. Both are living at home being cared for by family members. It’s a disaster.

  157. Dh’s grandfather lived into his 90s and up until the last year of his life was still driving (and smoking). He’d go out every night at 9:00 p.m. with “his posse” and go to Denny’s and drink coffee all night with his friends. He told me his secret to a long life was not to inhale too much when he was smoking. The kids finally had to take the car away after he had an accident, but when he died it was quick (heart attack I think).

    DH’s brother lives near his parents and he’s married to a nurse (who doesn’t like my in-laws but she will step in) and one of my sisters lives about 3 hours from my parents so somewhat close. We’ve thought about moving back in the next few years, more because I miss seeing my parents regularly, but it would also be nice to be able to be there as they age to help.

  158. Fred – weren’t you thinking of moving from your current location after retirement ? If you can have a discussion with your children and see if they are open to all/some of you picking the same city, it could work well for all. I know several families in our area that have moved here so siblings and parents all have their independent houses but close enough to lend a hand.

  159. Like Fred mentioned, kids from areas with limited economic opportunity tend to move away if they’re going to be successful. At my church small group, three of us are from the rural Midwest. It’s nice to be able to discuss this topic with other people who have a plane ride to an airport with 4 flights/day and several hours of driving to check out a situation.

    Does anyone have an opinion about whether Asian cultural expectations of hands-on care for the elderly are changing? Given the demographics of Japan, South Korea and China, it seems like they’ll have to change. A single child can’t realistically care for 4 grandparents and 2 parents (double that for a married couple).

  160. but this kind of comment almost always comes from the men on this group.

    I wonder if it comes from the same place as kids and coats? Mom’s will insist that kids wear a coat even if they don’t want to because:

    A. she’s worried about being thought a bad mother by the other mothers, teachers, etc.

    B: She doesn’t want the kids to be cold.

    A dad is more likely to think, “Wear a coat, don’t wear a coat. Be cold, don’t be cold. I really don’t care. I told you to put it on, the rest is up to you.”

  161. @Fred — I have the same thought as you: I want my kids to find their own places in the world and not feel tied to where I am. So my thinking is more like what Meme has laid out: if my kids are elsewhere after DH kicks it, move closer to one of them (assuming they live in a reasonable part of the country that will allow me to preserve my independence for as long as possible). My Granny is still going strong at 90 in her seniors complex, but that’s largely because my uncle and aunt are 15 mins away, as are their youngest kid and his family; when she had a medical emergency, he was the one who discovered it (she wasn’t answering her phone, so he came by to check).

  162. Well, Rhett, that’s largely because people blame the mom, not the dad, if the kid doesn’t have a coat. So both men and women are responding rationally to their own experiences.

  163. The more I watch people age, the more I realize that having your adult children nearby is critical.

    A lot of that hinges on you demanding your own way. If you want to stay in the same town, in the house that no longer meets your needs, etc. then you’ll need a lot of support. If you’re willing to be flexible, assisted living, NORC etc. it’s going to take a lot less work on everyone’s part.

  164. WCE: Interesting question about cultural expectations. From my experience, the cultural expectations are still in tact. There is only one person I know who has every had an elderly relative in a nursing home.

  165. Well, Rhett, that’s largely because people blame the mom, not the dad, if the kid doesn’t have a coat. So both men and women are responding rationally to their own experiences.

    But again, the difference is men don’t care nearly as much about what other people think (as a generality) as women do. As I’ve posted, DS goes to school in shorts all winter. He’ll wear a sweatshirt if it’s cold (forecast high under 40 or so). A coat isn’t going to happen. And I really don’t care what anyone thinks about it.

    I’ve heard many women complain about how they are judged much more than men are. But it’s women who are doing the judging.

  166. To Louise and DD’s comments: DH’s grandmothers are both 92+ and are living miserable lives. One has advanced Alzheimer’s and does not recognize anyone and is either out of it or belligerent. The other has been physically declining physically for years and now needs constant attention. Both are living at home being cared for by family members. It’s a disaster.

    This is where I agree with Rhett on the “that’s their problem” type of response. If the families aren’t willing to do what they can to bring in outside help, move them into an appropriate facility, etc, then they have no right to complain about the burden.

  167. “how much of it is not liking people who are strong, in general.”

    Yes, we’ve discussed here before how many teachers have difficulty with kids who are smarter than they, especially the ones willing to point out their shortcomings.

  168. “SS payout on her own account will be lower at retirement by this strategy.”

    I believe that if she survives him, her survivor’s benefit would be his payout.

  169. @DD/Rhett — I don’t actually disagree with your main point — y’all know I am not big on gender-based role assignment, and the reinforcement of those roles through unstated-but-clearly-felt social expectations is in fact a pet peeve. My point is just that it’s a lot easier to dismiss the power of those expectations when you haven’t been raised to believe in them.

  170. “A storm came this year, against which all other storms were to be measured”

    What if it was: A NIST-certified cesium clock was obtained, against which all other clocks were to be measured.

    Wouldn’t that be objective? They both sound like statements of fact.

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