My daughter is 33 years old married with 3 children and takes my mother who is 94 years old for granted financially. The only time she ever calls or visits is when she needs money. My mother is on a budget and doesn't have a lot of money. She recently gave her $800 to fix her truck then gave her another $200 for her birthday last week. She doesn't call after to say thanks, she has her truck fixed, etc. My sisters and myself are just sick of putting up with this. Can you please advise of how to handle such elder abuse without hurting feelings or stepping on toes?
Dear Taking Care,
Let me start by saying that my grandmother died last year and so the topic of elder care and abuse is one that is near and dear to my heart. I have some very strong opinions and I have seen first-hand the complexity of dealing with end-of-life issues. Sooo…here goes.
Unfortunately, you may have to step on toes here to stop what is most definitely financial abuse. Your daughter may truly not realize that what she is doing is wrong but you need to make her aware. I would suggest talking with her and trying to stop the abuse at this level. There’s no reason that you can’t have a caring conversation with her about her behavior but if it upsets her, you may need to take further steps (in fact, you may need to do this anyway) to protect your mother financially.
Ok, so onto the practical application. You can frame this conversation in terms of your mother’s needs as she ages. The reality is that growing old and dying is expensive. Funerals are expensive. Care is expensive. It would be a good idea to use this as an opportunity to review your mother’s financial situation. You can cut your daughter off in the context of getting your mother’s things in order and it may make the blow a bit less hard to take.
If your mother is anything like my grandmother, she’d probably give away her last dime to her family and that’s exactly why it’s important for you to intervene on her behalf. Perhaps you could call a family meeting and set some boundaries with your sisters there to support you. There’s really no reason why this conversation has to hurt your daughter’s feelings or step on toes BUT the reality is that if your daughter is used to receiving financial support from your mother, she’d likely to be upset by being cut off. Be prepared for any reaction she might have and it’ll make the whole conversation go more smoothly for you. If you try to get her involved in being part of the solution rather than singling her out as the problem, she might take it a lot better.
Of course, all this assumes that your mother is willing to go along with the plan. Here’s the real stepping on toes part right? The reality is that your mother may also need to be persuaded that it is in her best interest and will make life much easier for everyone else if her needs come first. That’s a hard one for many women so I won’t pretend it’s an easy sell. But the bottom line is that when the time comes (whether you’re close to that point or not), the expenses associated with old age and end-of-life are not only many but also can be unpredictable. It’s a good idea to make sure that your mom is in the best financial situation possible and that’s really something that your family should be able to buy into.
Hope this helps.
Don't be shy! Say what's on your mind and get a good dose of perspective in return.