Mom Wants to Remodel
"My mother went to a home show with a few friends, and now she wants to add an addition to the house. My mother is 80 years old! She lives alone in a lovely, good-sized house. She’s getting bids on an addition that will give her a sun room and a remodeled kitchen.
We, the children think our mother has lost her marbles. She has no idea what a mess a kitchen remodel can be. We also question her spending money that may be needed for care in the future.
We’re afraid to say anything to our mom because we fear she’ll push back or be angry with us. We get that it’s her house and her money. The thing is, she’s a bit impulsive and sometimes others are left to pick up the pieces. This could be one of those situations.
How do we approach her on this remodel thing?"
It reads like your mother is attracted to shiny new things and feels like she simply has to have them. The consequences of this attitude may have been your father’s issue to manage in the past.
Of course, you realize you cannot tell your mother what to do. It’s possible, though, that she may take some advice from a trusted child. If she was used to her husband being the voice of reason, she may trust one of her children to partner with her on the project.
Generally, remodeling and addition projects don’t pay back dollar-for-dollar in resale. It will add value, but not a full return on invested dollars. Therefore, the reason to do these projects is for quality of life, not money. If your mother has the extra cash and sees herself spending more time in her home in the future, this project may indeed be worth it to her. Other factors in the decision include the amount of her assets, and her ability to manage the project.
The challenge you face is bringing her desires in line with those assets and future planning. My recommendation is that you and your mother consult a financial planner. If your mother has one already, that individual is the person to contact, with mom’s permission. If she doesn’t have a planner, choosing one is a great exercise for the two of you. An outside professional can make non-emotional recommendations based on the unique facets of her situation. Putting the entire financial picture on paper/computer, and laying out the pros and cons will help your mother make a calculated decision, not an impulsive one.
You are not entering an easy situation here. Your mother is planning a rather large project without anyone else’s support. Jump in and offer to help her. It will likely be challenging, and it’s possible you will be the person dealing with contractors if she moves forward. I don’t see a way to avoid this. She is your mother, and there is some prior history of impulsivity. It might be easier to enter the process early, rather than waiting until there is a larger problem.
I wish you well as you face the challenges of this project.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
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