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Old 01-25-2017, 09:33 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
23,592 posts, read 17,582,380 times
Reputation: 27682

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I live in a town of 50,000 or so in far east Tennessee, an hour and a half away from the nearest significant metro areas and job center. We are a little over three hours away from the near major metro, Charlotte. I have a pretty good job here at the moment, but if something were to happen to it (and my firm is possibly being merged into another firm this year, so job security concerns), I'd likely have to move again or retrain to make more than $15/hr.

My family has been in this area for at least four generations. All but one of the grandparents are still alive in their early 80s, and in fairly good shape. Since I moved back in the summer, I've been taking some of the load off my parents and aunt helping the grandparents out - yard work, light maintenance on the homes, occasionally doing the grocery shopping for my widowed grandmother, things like that.

Dad and I are trying to rehab the house, as it will likely not sell given the current condition, and may not be up to code. Parts of the basement walls have substantial black mold, electrical issues, etc. Upstairs is pretty much fine. Yard is an acre on a steep hill (have to constantly shift your weight on the riding mower to avoid tipping it over, parts of yard have to be push mowed in cleats) and is a split foyer with stairs. Mom is to the point she can barely get up and down them already. Dad was barely able to keep up with routine chores with me gone and her basically unable to do anything other than work. They are absolutely going to have to downsize as they age.

Grandmother and aunt are both widowed, and grandmother stays with my aunt most weekends, but my aunt is not in the best of health either at 55 (Crohn's, blood pressure issues, osteoporosis, obesity), and has a stepson she has disinherited from the will. Dad is still in good shape, but mom has a laundry list (preleukemia, anemia, severe obesity, fibromyalgia, on and on) of medical conditions. They're both 59 now. I'm an only child. Aunt is probably fine financially, but parents are basically broke.

There are few services available for nondriving seniors here. Neither aunt nor parents live in a place serviced by buses or where they can walk to basic shopping if they can't drive. Grocery store, pharmacy, doctors are all miles away from parents house. We have good medical treatment here, but sophisticated problems are sent hours away. The local senior center does not offer transportation services. If you cannot drive, you are on your own. There isn't much in the way of activities or events for people who cannot/do not enjoy the outdoors.

Parents have told me they feel they have to stay here to care for their aging parents. By the time my grandparents all kick the bucket, mom and aunt are likely going to need more assistance themselves. I'm not sure how practical it's going to be for me to remain here long-term - the economy is just too weak. At the same time, none of the family are willing to leave this area. I can see this being a huge problem for me in five to ten years - trying to take care of sick/aging family, potentially hours away, in a small metro.

What are your concerns about aging in small towns and rural areas? Logistics concerns (how/who will get me around)? Concerns about medical care? Concerns about a lack of amenities (lack of shopping options, lack of entertainment)? How have you, as someone aging in a small town or rural area, planned around family members who may have to remain in a major metro to stay employed? Do you feel stuck where you are, or do your children feel stuck having to care for you in this rural area?
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Old 01-25-2017, 12:48 PM
 
Location: equator
3,451 posts, read 1,537,008 times
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As we got older, we did feel "trapped" in our remote area.


But you, SC, have so many other family issues to deal with. Overwhelmingly so. If you have to leave to get a better job, maybe your new location will alleviate your constant responsibilities for everyone near you now. That is hard. I am sure there are many here who can identify with your situation. It is good you are looking ahead for how all of this impacts your future.
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Old 01-25-2017, 03:15 PM
 
7,982 posts, read 11,665,473 times
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No answers other than I don't think you are alone, although you probably will be more increasingly alone as years go by.

Its a big issue for rural areas. I've read articles by county commissioners and state congressman in Michigan struggling with the issues of emptying rural counties with only the elderly left.

I've also read that urbanization has been an ongoing trend for quite awhile and that seems to continue. Cities just get bigger and bigger and the rest of the country continues to empty out. I read that 75% of the US population lives withing 100 miles of the coast. Fly over country is real. Don't know what's going to happen to farmers children who will want opportunity, health care etc.

I sort of laugh when people talk about real estate as some sort of investment. In these emptying out rural areas you are lucky if you can sell a home at all much less make some sort of profit.

Of course these areas are beautiful and family is important, its a very hard thing.
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Old 01-25-2017, 03:23 PM
 
5,429 posts, read 3,452,633 times
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An alternative thought is that older people who have no children, do not have anyone to 'take care of them'.

And many older people who do have children find that their children do not 'take care of them' or live too far away to take care of them. Yet somehow these older people get along and find alternative ways to face whatever needs or problems occur.
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Old 01-26-2017, 04:29 PM
 
6,625 posts, read 3,752,330 times
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I am going to be harsh. You need to leave and get yourself to an area that is best for your future. I know you love your family. Family is family, and there will never, probably, be others in the world that love you in that way,and that you love them.

But you cannot sacrifice your entire future by staying somewhere for the purpose of taking care of ailing relatives (who, I might add, are at least partially responsible for their health conditions). 59 is not old. Yet their physical conditions sound more like 85 year olds. My father is 85, still maintains his half acre yard himself, goes everywhere, drives his pickup, and even mows his son's yard as a favor. He takes his wife (14 years younger) to a big city 2 1/2 hours away for cancer treatments. He's seems much more fit than your 59 year old relatives.

However, they will all likely die young. There are no obese 80 year olds. My mother was obese and died at 68. It was quick, thank goodness.

If you choose to stay, you must recognize that you are sacrificing your future for the sake of your family, and be prepared to be okay with that.

Do you plan on having kids? Do you want them to grow up there, and have the same problem you have?

If I had a son, I would want him to go somewhere where he could be happy, make money, reach his potential.

My family, too, lives in a specific cultural area. They've lived there since the 1700s. It's a cursed thing that they all live in this one area, always have, always will. I must live there, to live near them. But I moved away years ago for employment opportunities. It was the right thing to do. I don't regret it. They never quite forgave me.

You need to decide what you want your future to be, what you want for any kids you have. The older generation cannot expect the younger generation to sacrifice itself. This is life. All baby birds must learn to fly and start their own lives.

OTOH, if you stay there, you will have no regrets as to family. You will also likely inherit the land, for whatever that is worth. You will be a big help to your family. But you future is limited.

It's your decision. Maybe a city with opportunities as close as possible, so that yu can drive back often or for an emergency?

(BTW...I am thinking of settling back down in retirement where my family members are.)
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Old 01-26-2017, 07:26 PM
 
Location: Missouri
346 posts, read 161,233 times
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It's good of you to help out and fixing up the house is one of the best things you could do for your parents.

I also agree with bpollen's advice that this is their fight, not yours, though. Your parents and other relatives need to face reality, because staying where they are is untenable given the situation you describe. If I were in your parents' shoes, I would be panicking. They need to be out of there, or, at the very least, actively planning the next stage, with a timeline. And all of the relatives should be working on downsizing. Is this something you could help them with--before you find a way out of there?

It's understandable that they don't want to leave the area, but their health and finances will only get worse, as everyone's does. Nobody likes getting older and facing losses, but you have to be realistic that as you age some lifestyles (and other things you used to enjoy) are no longer feasible. Better to plan for it and act while you still have your faculties and comparative health. Being an ostrich will only lead to grief. I have been there with elderly parents who refused to even think about moving or getting rid of anything, even into their 80s. It was not fair to my brothers and me, who were left to do everything. It took up an entire year of our lives.

I am the same age as your parents (though in better health) and my husband and I are in the process of downsizing our belongings and house size by half, moving to a house that's mostly on one level, and moving closer to shopping areas, since I no longer want to drive an hour and a half round-trip to go to someplace like Whole Foods or Target. And I anticipate downsizing even further in another 10-15 years.

Can you have a straight conversation with your parents about this? Are they still employed and could they get jobs if they move to the metro area you described? Not clear on why they're broke, since it doesn't sound like they live in an expensive area or have a large mortgage.
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Old 01-26-2017, 09:40 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
23,592 posts, read 17,582,380 times
Reputation: 27682
I don't know how much the parents have, but it's not much. Both cars will be paid off by spring - mom already wants an SUV to replace her 2010 Camry because it's hard for her to get in and out of, trying to talk them into buying used if they buy anything. Little to no other consumer debt to my knowledge - that appears to have been paid off or written off.

Mortgage is $660/month. Income is about $75,000 between them. Neither have made more than $40,000 consistently. They have elementary education degrees, but rarely used them. They had teaching jobs about four hours away in South Carolina in the 90s, but their parents guilt-tripped them into moving back. She's worked in local banks since then - he worked at a factory before downsizing at the start of the last recession and has been stuck in a call center for a decade. He works two days from home, two days at the office, but 100 mile round trip commute. Had they stayed at those teaching jobs, they'd be vested nicely in a government pension by now. They do have four small pensions between them at the places they've worked - with SS, they can probably get by. He'll probably work at least part time as long as he is healthy - he is not a sedentary person.

I'm doing fine, making about $60,000 here. Unfortunately, I don't feel my job is stable with this merger potentially on the horizon. I work for a hospital chain in a nonclinical, corporate role, and we're the bunch being bought if this goes through, which is hung up in legal limbo at the moment. The corporate office would likely be where the first cuts are probably, which is where I am and the department I service are. I don't want to commit to buying anything or even renting until this settles, which will hopefully be by July 4. I'm paying a third of the mortgage and utilities in the interim. I'm keeping my eye open for jobs in Knoxville, Asheville, and Greenville, SC, and I'd take any of these cities over where I am. I really have no desire to live in this immediate area long-term, for numerous reasons. I've just been using the last six months to pay off debt. I've paid off all my credit cards ($13,000 in August) and am hoping to have my car paid off by summer. I think mom and dad would be open to any of these places. No issues with the job itself - just the whole biz is in a state of flux.

The biggest issue with the family are the homes. My grandmother is living in the same house they built in 67 and raise mom and aunt in - tri-level with laundry downstairs, bedrooms upstairs. She has developed knee problems, will likely need full replacement, and can't really go downstairs now, but is absolutely refusing to move. Says she can't afford a one level townhome here, but there are options for $100,000 - $120,000 and the home would probably sell for that. It needs some cosmetic updates but is otherwise fine. Aunt is in a large townhome, again with stairs and laundry on the bottom.

Dad is fine. He is still able to bench press nearly 400 pounds and go on half day hikes without a problem - didn't mean to infer he was in bad shape. He fell taking the trash down the steep ice covered driveway about fifteen years ago and ripped his quad right off the bone, and had to have a major surgery. We've all piled up on the driveway in the winter. We have some gravel covering a gap between the ground and the bottom of the carport's concrete to prevent animals from getting under there - I went down on that slippery gravel this summer. Staying in this huge home on a steep hill that needs quite a bit of work and is just constant upkeep even with two men seems ridiculous, especially with mother's health.

I find it mind-boggling how little has changed with the family over the past decade, and in this area. At 70, grandmother was able to get around well, walked a couple miles a day for exercise, but at 81, she's beginning to face mobility challenges, and is not willing to modify anything. Neither are his parents with his mom showing signs of dementia and dad having two knee replacements, massive heart attack in 2010. His dad is probably in the best shape of all the grandparents, in spite of 12 DUIs, multiple felonies, and a life of vices. He had a double knee replacement last January and was back to loading appliances in his truck at 80 in March. Mom and dad frequent the same restaurants they've always been to, and get asked about me a lot. It's like the whole place has been stuck in a time warp for a decade. Things sure haven't changed much here in Tennessee.

None of this is sustainable long-term without significant aid. And no one seems to notice they're all approaching a wall, perhaps at different speeds at different times. If this job gets cut, I'd be hard pressed to make $40,000.

That's not even counting the general issues of a small town, declining area. Whole situation is a damn mess.
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Old 01-26-2017, 10:44 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
18,110 posts, read 22,978,628 times
Reputation: 35305
I moved to a remote area in CA - yes they exist LOL, and I've realized it won't work for me long-term.

The biggest problem here is dental care. I am covered by a California dental version of Medi-Caid, but, our local clinic that accepts Medi-Caid (Denta-Cal) isn't taking new adult patients, and doesn't ever expect to. So, when I need dental care, I have to sign in at 8am, and sit and wait and hope that they will have a no-show, as they will take a drop-in if they have a cacellation. The last time I went, needing to have a tooth pulled, I waited 5 hours.

The next closest option that accepts my insurance, is about 4 1/2 hours away.

I know seniors here who need dialysis, etc., and it's a 2 1/2 hour drive away. And the weather here can be really severe with wind and rain. Also, there are often landslides, etc., that can mean long waits on the highways, waiting for the pilot cars to move traffic along one lane, instead of two, because the road has fallen into the ocean.

I'm 60, but I don't want to deal with what my older new friends are dealing with here. Why fight a battle you can't win? Other than how cheap it is here, there are no other ties to keep me here.

But, I'm sure others are dealing with leaving loved ones behind. Difficult decisions.
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Old 01-26-2017, 11:20 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
14,018 posts, read 17,744,100 times
Reputation: 32304
To Serious Conversation: Your post #7 above is a very interesting little family tome. Wish I had some insightful advice beyond what others have said, but I do not. Thus far you seem to have balanced helping family with your own self-interest pretty well. It must feel good to have paid off that much debt.
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Old 01-27-2017, 01:35 AM
 
Location: CO/UT/AZ/NM Catch me if you can!
4,743 posts, read 4,373,175 times
Reputation: 10403
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serious Conversation View Post
I live in a town of 50,000 or so in far east Tennessee, an hour and a half away from the nearest significant metro areas and job center. We are a little over three hours away from the near major metro, Charlotte. I have a pretty good job here at the moment, but if something were to happen to it (and my firm is possibly being merged into another firm this year, so job security concerns), I'd likely have to move again or retrain to make more than $15/hr.

My family has been in this area for at least four generations. All but one of the grandparents are still alive in their early 80s, and in fairly good shape. Since I moved back in the summer, I've been taking some of the load off my parents and aunt helping the grandparents out - yard work, light maintenance on the homes, occasionally doing the grocery shopping for my widowed grandmother, things like that.

Dad and I are trying to rehab the house, as it will likely not sell given the current condition, and may not be up to code. Parts of the basement walls have substantial black mold, electrical issues, etc. Upstairs is pretty much fine. Yard is an acre on a steep hill (have to constantly shift your weight on the riding mower to avoid tipping it over, parts of yard have to be push mowed in cleats) and is a split foyer with stairs. Mom is to the point she can barely get up and down them already. Dad was barely able to keep up with routine chores with me gone and her basically unable to do anything other than work. They are absolutely going to have to downsize as they age.

Grandmother and aunt are both widowed, and grandmother stays with my aunt most weekends, but my aunt is not in the best of health either at 55 (Crohn's, blood pressure issues, osteoporosis, obesity), and has a stepson she has disinherited from the will. Dad is still in good shape, but mom has a laundry list (preleukemia, anemia, severe obesity, fibromyalgia, on and on) of medical conditions. They're both 59 now. I'm an only child. Aunt is probably fine financially, but parents are basically broke.

There are few services available for nondriving seniors here. Neither aunt nor parents live in a place serviced by buses or where they can walk to basic shopping if they can't drive. Grocery store, pharmacy, doctors are all miles away from parents house. We have good medical treatment here, but sophisticated problems are sent hours away. The local senior center does not offer transportation services. If you cannot drive, you are on your own. There isn't much in the way of activities or events for people who cannot/do not enjoy the outdoors.

Parents have told me they feel they have to stay here to care for their aging parents. By the time my grandparents all kick the bucket, mom and aunt are likely going to need more assistance themselves. I'm not sure how practical it's going to be for me to remain here long-term - the economy is just too weak. At the same time, none of the family are willing to leave this area. I can see this being a huge problem for me in five to ten years - trying to take care of sick/aging family, potentially hours away, in a small metro.

What are your concerns about aging in small towns and rural areas? Logistics concerns (how/who will get me around)? Concerns about medical care? Concerns about a lack of amenities (lack of shopping options, lack of entertainment)? How have you, as someone aging in a small town or rural area, planned around family members who may have to remain in a major metro to stay employed? Do you feel stuck where you are, or do your children feel stuck having to care for you in this rural area?
Sounds like you are in a difficult situation to put it mildly. If your family members are lower income, there may be resources available to help them with things like transportation for medical care and visits from a home health care worker. The problem is that right now, everything is in a state of uncertainty when it comes to health care. The programs available today may literally be gone by tomorrow, and if your family member's income is too high, they wouldn't qualify anyway.

I live in a remote area in rural Colorado. My town has a population of only 8,000, and if you need to see a specialist, that means a 2 - 3 hour drive or more. My closest family members have all passed on and I am divorced and was never able to have children, so my caregiver is me. I am 65 and have a disability, and I'm trying to get by on a tiny check from Social Security. Plus, I live about 7 miles from town and have no transportation since my old truck gave out some time back. The reason I can make it out here is that my disability combined with my low income qualifies me for transport for medical visits and I even get two trips per week for non-medical reasons like if I need to shop or go to church or visit a friend. I also qualify for a home health care worker who visits me 3 times a week to help me with stuff like cleaning and cooking and such. I can't express my gratitude enough to the people of the state of Colorado who care enough about the state's elderly and disabled residents to provide us with such help. But I worry about all the changes that will be coming with the new administration. Things could go south for me - and others like me - in the blink of an eye.

I love the place where I now live, but I am also a realist. I would be quite willing to move to be nearer to a close family member who offered me help if only I had one. Heck, I'd move to Denver or Salt Lake or whatever if I had that option. There will always be trade-offs no matter what you do. Plus, it's one thing to enjoy a rural life-style when you're 28, but quite another to make a go of it when you're 82. While I can understand your grandparents' desire to stay in their home town, it seems to me that your parents and aunt are being pretty self-centered if not out right selfish to expect you to drop everything aside in your own life just to come take care of them so they don't have to move. Have you discussed your concerns about your company's future with your parents? If they don't have that much money themselves and you're trying to survive on a wage that won't even cover your own cost of living, I don't see how you can be that helpful to anybody. Let your family know of your concerns if you haven't already. You don't need to overwhelm them with some awful dystopian predictions about the future, but you might start bringing up what's going on with your job from time to time. I commend you on being such a caring person, but being concerned about your folks doesn't mean you have to turn yourself into a doormat for them. Besides, all sorts of things can happen in 5 - 10 years. Give your family some lead time to consider other possibilities. They may actually be glad to go to a bigger metro area when the time comes. Best of luck to you all!
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