Haims: The baby boomer population is aging; be proactive and assist your loved ones (column)
I don’t know of any of my contemporaries who can tell me that the university or college they attended offered a course on aging. Thus, it is with little surprise than many of us have little idea how to best assist our aging loved ones.
According to the U.S. Census, there are more than 300 million baby boomers in the United States. In 2015, an estimated 4 million more baby boomers will become 50 years old.
Worldwide, we are ill prepared to address the needs of this population. Consequently, new research, marketing, products and services are coming to fruition. Servicing the boomer generation is creating new businesses and industries, ultimately generating big dollars.
Driven by potential new revenue streams and economic development, we will meet many of the needs of our aging population. However, it remains less clear that we will address the human and emotional needs of both the aging and those persons who will provide help for them.
On almost a weekly basis, our office receives phone calls from the adult children (persons in their 30s to 60s) of seniors who are looking for advice and resources to aid their parents and loved ones. Many of these adult children have suddenly found themselves thrust into the role of being a caregiver. Often, when an elderly parent or loved one becomes hospitalized, diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness or can no longer care of themselves, it is usually the children of the elderly parent who have to step in and respond.
Many of the persons reaching out to our office are looking for assistance with how to keep their aging loved ones at home and how to know when living at home is no longer a safe option. Dealing with such issues as independent and assisted living, providing daily care within the home, assisting with daily errands, driving, financial choices, health and end of life are very personal and difficult topics.
My suggestion as a first step to finding out how much your parents or loved ones have prepared for their future is to address the topics of, health, legal and finances. Find out if they have long-term care insurance and, if not, how they plan to pay for nursing home care or in-home help, if necessary.
Do they have a will and have they designated powers of attorney? You may also want to ask if they want to remain at home or if they would choose an independent living community. Do they have an estate plan, family trust or other means of protecting their assets?
Following are a few topics of discussion that should be noted for both yourself and your parents:
Is their home still appropriate for their needs?
• Can they attend to a front or back yard?
• Can they manage stairs?
• Can they safely cook and attend to keeping the home clean and tidy?
• Can they safely drive?
• Is there a plan in place for emergencies?
• Would a personal emergency response systems be beneficial?
Is there a retirement plan?
• Determine if their living expenses fall within a sustainable budget.
• Are there funds allocated to pay for in-home care or assisted living?
• Does a family member have both power of attorney and durable power of attorney. (They are not one in the same.)
• Is there a will in place?
Health and health insurance:
• What health problems do they have?
• Is there a health insurance plan in place that is appropriate for their medical needs?
There are no rulebooks to look to for specific guidance. We are trailblazing. If you have walked this path or are currently dealing with these situations, share your stories with your friends. While the particulars may be unique to each of us, the grander view of aiding our loved ones is shared by all of us.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. Contact him at 970-328-5526 or visit http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns.