you ever said or heard others say, "I don't ever want to be a burden to
my children"? It's a common thought, but what have you done to insure
that you won't be? If your parents shares these sentiments, now is the
time to initiate dialogue with them before it's too late. The inevitable
future includes aging for all of us.
Many of us, seniors included,
will be called upon as caregivers of our loved ones. The first "baby boomers',
the group born after World War II ended, are just turning fifty. It is
likely that this group of Americans may spend more years caring for elderly
parents than they spend raising children. They truly exemplify the sandwich
Caregiving can be complicated.
Finding resouces and making decisions is not an easy task. The entire
family should be addressing caregiving issues. If elderly parents are
capable, by all means, involve them in an open discussion of issues directly
related to their future. If they seem reluctant at first, persist. It's
far better to "air" their fears and yours now, while they are still capable.
Be sure to involve all siblings in the discussion even the "long distance"
children. If they can't be there, keep them well informed, preferably
in writing. Informal letters serve well.
The following questions can
serve as guides for families trying to make rational, educated decisions:
- Who will be the principal
- What involvement will siblings
- Which responsibilities can
be shared? By whom?
(Supervising medications, shopping, doctors, day care, etc.)
- Is communication open and
honest between caregiver and elderly person?
- Do family members share
feelings and information?
- Financial and Legal
- What is the person's financial
- Is ther a list of assets,
their value, their locations?
- Is there a private pension?
Is it mailed directly to a bank? Which one?
- What is the social security
amount? Is it directly deposited? Where?
- Are there other sources
of income? Annuities, stocks, interest, IRA's, CD's, safe deposit box?
- What are the debts? Mortgages,
- Is there a need to apply
for SSI, Supplementary Security Income?
- Is medical coverage adequate?
- Is there a prescription
plan? Long term care insurance? Medicare? Medicaid?
- Has anyone consulted an
- Has the elderly person transferred
- What is the "time frame"
in your state for transferring assets before being qualified for Medicaid?
- Is there a will, a living
will, a power of attorney, a durable power of attorney that lasts beyond
incapacitation? Where are they kept?
- Is there an insurance policy?
Where is it kept?
- What housing opitons are
possible? Can the elderly person live alone?
- What about an assisted living
- Is a nursing facility or
a personal care facility needed?
- Is senior housing or shared
housing an option?
- Is a life care community
- Has the person or family
any "up-front money" available for some period of personal pay in a
- Has the person had a recent
physical? Is there a family doctor? Has a geriatric assessment been
- What medications are being
taken? By prescription? Over the counter?
- Ask the pharmacist or doctor
if any medications interactions should be avoided. Ask if any meds should
not be taken together. Any foods avoided?
- Are there any pre-paid funeral
expenses? Any specific funeral wishes?
- What funeral home? A viewing?
A family plot?
- Cremation? Any specific
- Can you discuss death with
the person for whom you are caring? Why not? Most of the elderly do
not fear discussion of death.