Love and Marriage in Assisted Living

Dealing with Love and Marriage in Assisted Living

older marriage
Love and Marriage in AL. Shayne Fitz-Coy

The golden years in assisted living facilities are rich with romance and friendship. Married adults are healthier than non-married ones. Ipso facto love leads to longer lives. Late life marriages by an elderly family member can create tension and confusion. Sure, it’s true love, and who can begrudge that? But when Mom is tying the knot, your stomach may end up feeling like a pretzel. So is it your business to meddle in mom or dad's affairs.

Yes and no. Here are some things to consider when mom or dad is considering remarrying and are in a senior living community.

Before mom leaps into a new union, make sure you look into the personal and legal aspects of remarriage. Read on and follow these tips to celebrate the new relationship with the joy that it (hopefully) deserves.

Take stock and move forward.

  • Take time to process how you feel.
  • Think about this new union from Mom’s perspective. She doesn’t need your permission to get married, but she would like your support. Ask yourself: Are you able to give her that support? 
  • Remember that your mother has a right to be happy and so do you. 

Treat her like an adult.

  • Honor your mother and respect her choice. Your role is not to debate her selection of partners. Your job is to love and support her. Stay in your lane.
  • Resist the urge to compare her new spouse to previous ones. This isn’t a bake off. This is your mother making a decision. Be a friend.
  • Exception to the Rules Above. If you suspect that your mother is in an abusive or fraudulent relationship or witness anything untoward, you have a duty to act. Savvy, loving caregivers protect loved ones against elder abuse.

Strengthen your relationship with Mom.

  • Stay connected. Call her and set up a visit. Spend some alone time with her.
  • Talk openly with her about how you feel. Own your feelings. You’re not 15 anymore. How you feel is your responsibility, not her fault. She may just be a great source of answers and confidence. 

Welcome the new addition to the family.

  • Meet the family. Take the pressure off your first meeting by keeping it short and sweet.
  • Deepen the relationships with the new family by planning an event. A fun activity will give you time to get to know each other without the awkwardness of being forced to chat.
  • Welcome the new addition. Give a gift, spend some time together, or invite Mom’s partner to share in a treasured family custom.

Figure out the finances.

  • Make sure to put in the hard work on finances in advance. Talk with an estate attorney or financial planner to hash out the details. Ask her to consider a prenuptial agreement. Contact your family legal advisor for help on structuring the necessary legal agreements.
  • Consider Mom’s plans for healthcare. Getting married can affect her Medicaid benefits. Medicaid takes the assets from both spouses into account, regardless of whose money it is.
  • Decide the division of property in the event of divorce or death. Mom will need to update her will.
  • Even if Mom’s new spouse isn’t in her will, in most states up to half of her estate will automatically go to her partner. Ask Mom to consider estate waivers so that her estate goes where she wants it.
  • Mom’s power of attorney gives the legal power to act in her place if she is unable to do so. You will need to discuss with Mom if she will give you or her new spouse the power of attorney.
  • An advanced directive allows Mom to specify her end of life care ahead of time. This will make her wishes clear to you, her spouse, and her health care providers. 

Adjust caregiver expectations.

Now that she has a new spouse, your Mom may not rely on you as much as a primary caregiver.

It’s hard for anyone to balance caregiving and daily life. With a new member, you should discuss the expectations of who will be giving what care and how often.

High functioning teams outperform individuals. Maybe you just added a valuable new member onto your care team. You can share the responsibilities.

In conclusion, you don’t have to love Mom’s new partner. Maybe you will grow to like her new partner, or maybe you won’t. Either way, keep the peace and let Mom enjoy her newfound love.

About the Author

Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania with offices nationwide. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Shayne has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a master’s in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home.

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