Our Atlanta Independent
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For Boomers Only
Seniors In Recession: Practical Advice For Helping Your Parents Now (p. 2)
I. The first group of seniors are those who are reaching the point in their lives where some form of assistance is required. Many of these people and their families were well-prepared before the economic downturn. Reversals in home equity, investments, and earning power have diminished their ability to make a much needed lifestyle change.
Regardless of how far they may have come in life, many of these individuals are still willing to sacrifice their own quality of life in exchange for their goal of preserving “the kids’ money.” Most of the seniors in this category believe that they can “get by” with temporary help, home healthcare providers, or a little more help from the children or grandchildren. Although they may be right, they are seldom willing to consider the more intangible aspects of “getting by.”
What most Boomers want for their aging parents is that they are able to enjoy their remaining lives to the utmost. To accomplish that goal, personal care or assistance is only a part of the formula. Even more meaningful is your ability to preserve Mom’s dignity and convince her that social interaction is the very best medicine.
The following are a few suggestions for those of you who have a loved one in this category:
Determine whether or not preservation of the estate is truly a priority for your family. If it is, plan accordingly. If it is not, orchestrate a conservative financial plan which may include some monthly “spend down” of the available funds. In developing this plan, make an ultra-conservative assumption (say three years) regardless of what the mortality expectations might be. Do whatever is necessary to convince your parents that their well-being is the only thing that is important to you. If you don’t say it, they will not know it.
Recognize the fact that your loved ones may not acknowledge many of the factors that are really weighing heavily upon them. Even with the best home healthcare, the psychological pressures of managing a home may be adversely affecting their quality of life.
Determine what your loved one can realistically afford to spend on a monthly basis. Combine that with any supplemental funding that might be available from the family. Research all of the available communities within your area and decide which one might offer the best alternative for your needs and your resources. It is critically important that you make the logical decision – then convince Mom that her only responsibility is to select the clothes and furnishings that she wishes to bring to her new home. Every decision that you leave to your parent provides another opportunity for delay.
If your family’s decision is to opt for a home healthcare provider, carefully check references, insurance, drug screening, fidelity bonds, and training standards. Know the individual to whom you are entrusting your Mom’s wellbeing. Also remember that social interaction is every bit as important as grooming, feeding, and medication management. Commit your family to maximizing the amount of time that each of you spends with your parent and arrange for frequent opportunities for her to visit with friends. Do not make the mistake of relying upon your home healthcare provider to be the primary social contact for your loved one.
Should it be difficult for you and your family to provide the active socialization that your parents need, focus your decision on easily accessible assisted living communities. Most of such communities are professionally managed and offer a complement of services which is adaptable to individual needs. Each community will have certain advantages, but the most important determinant is the staff. In this decision, personnel and references should always outweigh the attractiveness of the physical plant.