Vail senior care column: Aging with a plan helps alleviate stress for loved ones | VailDaily.com

Vail senior care column: Aging with a plan helps alleviate stress for loved ones

Judson Haims
Special to the Daily

Over the years, I have been asked by a number of my friends and/or their spouses for guidance in helping them try to figure out how to help their aging loved ones. One of the first questions I ask in response is, "What's your relationship with your parent(s)?"

Addressing issues about your aging loved ones' health, financial and future plans, or lack of plans, for their senior years can be precarious at best. The conversation is going to have to address such topics as power of attorney, medical/durable power of attorney, estate planning and finances, along with many others that are quite personal.

GOOD HEALTH

Good health is the No. 1 factor in mandating the quality of life we will have as we age. Developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, are two of the leading factors of poor health — especially for those who are elderly. We all have the ability to mitigate the onset of such diseases by eating better and incorporating exercise into our lives. If you want to promote your aging loved ones to live independently and have the best quality of life possible, then participate in assuring they eat a quality diet. Waiting until the effects of poor diet or health to set in is costly.

As Robert Frost wrote, "The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected." Getting older does not automatically mean poor health. A healthy diet, exercise and managing stress are all manageable factors that will help reduce the risk of chronic disease and injuries later in life.

FINANCIAL NEEDS OF AGING

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Broaching the finances of your aging loved ones may be precarious; however, not being aware of your elder's finances can be very detrimental. A good recommendation for starting such a conversation is to tell your loved one that you are starting to do financial planning for yourself or your family and want to know what they may have done to plan for themselves. Should they have plans intact, the conversation may be somewhat easier.

However, should they indicate they have only tinkered in financial planning, you can always say that you have researched the matter a bit for yourself and want to know if you can share with them what you have learned. Following are a few topics of discussion that should be noted for both yourself and your parents:

• Is your home still appropriate for your needs?

• Can you afford to stay in your home on your retirement budget?

• Can you manage the stairs, or would you do better on one level?

• Does your home have any safety hazards?

• Should you think about living somewhere else?

• Can you afford your retirement?

• Do your living expenses fall within your savings and/or earnings from investments?

• Are there funds allocated to pay for having a person help you remain independent and at home?

• Will Medicare, Social Security or a pension provide enough funding to enable you to live at an assisted living facility?

• What health problems do you have?

• Can you afford your prescriptions?

• Does your health insurance pay all of your medical bills?

• Will your finances be such that Medicare or Medicaid will help?

Somewhere within the conversation, you should encourage your parents to organize all of their personal information in a place that they disclose to you. Items such as a will, power of attorney, do not resuscitate, banking accounts, safety deposit box and finances are all necessary components of a plan for the future.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. Contact him at 970-328-5526 or visit http://www.visiting angels.com/comtns.