$1k in Fairfax County VA, where my mother-in-law is, won't get much at all, and she can't afford to move without help. My mom is in the Detroit suburbs, so somewhat better, but still needs help from me financially. If I didn't have to worry about them, I'd probably be able to retire right now.
I agree there's a fine line, and it should be based upon where you live, and what resources you have. As for them preparing, both are divorcees who got squat from former husbands. Mother-in-law worked into her 70s as a psychiatric nurse, but on her post divorce income couldn't really save anything. Nobody's hiring old nurses these days, though she's still able to do volunteer work, and gets some minor benefits from that. Mom, 75 and with a high school education, worked as a real estate agent, and still does occasionally, but the housing market in the Detroit area is crap, and most people don't want to deal with an old lady agent. Other work opportunities for her are next to nil.