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
entering their 60s. It is likely that this group of Americans
may spend more years caring for elderly parents than they spend
They truly exemplify the sandwich generation.
Caregiving can be complicated. Finding
resources 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.
- Who will be the principal caregiver?
- 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
Financial and Legal
- What is the person's financial
- Is there 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 eldercare
- 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 options 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
- Is a life care community feasible?
- Has the person or family any "up-front
money" available for some period of personal pay in a nursing
- Has the person had a recent physical?
Is there a family doctor? Has a geriatric assessment been ordered?
- 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 desires?
- Can you discuss death with the
person for whom you are caring? Why not? Most of the elderly
do not fear discussion of death.