Supporting Aging Parents

August 22, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

As children, our parents made decisions for us, and provided us guidance. When we become adults and parents, our parents become peers and mentors as we raise our own family. As our parents reach old age, they begin to depend on us to give guidance, support, and understanding. This session seeks to explore issues that our parents may be experiencing, how we are engaged and affected, and share ideas and experiences of how to help our parents deal with the challenges, and enjoy their old age as best they can.

Objective

Growing old can be fun and it beats the alternative – early death. However as our parents grow old things change and can cause huge burdens on their daily lives. Perhaps a spouse has died and the remaining parent has to deal with loneliness, new challenges like balancing the checkbook when the other handled finances, or finding people that can relate to their stage in life.

Alternatively, perhaps both parents are still alive, but one requires care from sickness like surgery, Alzheimer’s, or just sedentary ways. It might be easy for us to ship them off to a retirement home and have others deal with them, or you might experience deep guilt in not being able to deal with a parent’s need without external help.

Could you take your father’s car keys away and tell him he can’t drive anymore? Could you tell your mother she has to move out of her home of 30 years or more because she can’t keep up?

How do you and your wife team up with family and friends to support your parents needs when they can’t handle everything they used to? Discuss ways to preserve your parent’s dignity while helping them through their aging and “Golden Years”.

Bible Readings

1. Matthew 25:31-40

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

2. Leviticus 19:32

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the old, and fear your God. I am the LORD.

3. Proverbs 10:1

A wise son gives his father joy, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2251

Children owe their parents respect, gratitude, just obedience, and assistance. Filial respect fosters harmony in all of family life.

Small Group Questions

  1. Are you in a situation where your parents need your assistance: financially, daily care giving, illness recovery, disability? How do you help them?
  2. If your parents are younger, do you keep a close relationship to them so that later in life that closeness will keep you together?
  3. Did you or your family do anything proactively to help your parents?

Recommended Resources

  1. http://www.agingcare.com/
  2. ttp://elderhelpers.org/blog/ – blog with some interesting ideas
  3. http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-best-life/2011/07/18/10-tips-for-caring-for-aging-parents – financial resources focused
  4. http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-07-13-alzheimers-caregivers_x.htm

Accountability

  1. Make a family care giving plan today:
    http://foundation.aarp.org/Caregiving/?gclid=CI-c18m7mbECFQIQNAodmCWDhA
  2. Take a small step, make an effort to see your parents – or talk to them, more often. Don’t make it awkward when they really need you.
  3. Take the bigger step and ask your parents how they are doing and how you can help.

Author(s)

Dan Lape

Included Resources

Caring for elderly parents catches many unprepared.
http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/basics/story/2012-03-25/caring-for-an-elderly-parent-financially/53775004/1

Last July, Julie Baldocchi’s mother had a massive stroke and was paralyzed. Baldocchi suddenly had to become a family caregiver, something that she wasn’t prepared for.

“I was flying by the seat of my pants,” says Baldocchi, an employment specialist in San Francisco. Both of her parents are 83, and she knew her father couldn’t handle her mother’s care.

The hospital recommended putting her mother in a nursing home. Baldocchi wasn’t willing to do that. But moving her back into her parents’ home created other problems.

Baldocchi, 48, is married and lives about a mile away from her parents. She has a full-time job and has back problems that make it difficult for her to lift her mother. “I couldn’t do it all,” she says. “But I didn’t even know how to find help.”

With help from the Family Caregiver Alliance, she eventually hired a live-in caregiver. “But even if you plan intellectually and legally, you’re never ready for the emotional impact,” Baldocchi says. In the first two months after her mother’s stroke, she lost about 30 pounds as stress mounted.

More than 42 million Americans provide family caregiving for an adult who needs help with daily activities, according to a 2009 survey by the AARP. An additional 61.6 million provided at least some care during the year.

And many are unprepared.

Starting with the paperwork

While many parents lack an advance care directive, it’s the most basic and important step they can take. The directive includes several parts, including: a durable power of attorney, which gives someone legal authority to make financial decisions on another’s behalf; a health care proxy, which is similar to the power of attorney, except it allows someone to make decisions regarding medical treatment; and a living will that outlines instructions for end-of-life care. (For example, parents can say if they want to be kept alive by artificial measures.)

“It’s invaluable for the kids, because it’s hard to make those decisions for a parent,” says Jennifer Cona, an elder-law attorney at Genser Dubow Genser & Cona in Melville, N.Y.

An advance care directive is the first line of defense if a situation arises, says Kathleen Kelly, executive director of the Family Caregiver Alliance, which supports and educates caregivers.

Without an advance directive, the family will have to petition the court to be appointed the parent’s legal guardian, says AgingCare.com.

It’s important for families to talk about long-term care so the adult children know their parents’ preferences, wishes and goals, says Lynn Feinberg, a caregiving expert at AARP. But it’s not an easy conversation.

Elderly parents are sometimes suspicious of their children’s financial motives, says Susan John, a financial planner at Financial Focus in Wolfeboro, N.H. One client asked John to hold a family meeting because they needed an intermediary to talk about financial issues, she says.

And when there are many siblings, the family decisions can become a three-ring circus with much acrimony, says Ann-Margaret Carrozza, an elder-law attorney in Glen Cove, N.Y.

Families who need information and help sorting out disagreements can call on elder-law attorneys, financial planners, geriatric care managers and caregiver support groups. In February, AARP said it will offer its members a new caregiving support service through financial services firm Genworth.

Navigating the long-term care system

Many families are unprepared for quick decisions, especially when they find out that Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care, Feinberg says.

The median cost of a year in a private room at a nursing home in 2011 was $77,745, according to Genworth. And only those who have spent most of their assets can qualify for Medicaid to pay for the nursing home.

Assisted living is another option. Residents can have their own apartment to maintain some independence. But the facilities generally provide personal care services, such as meals, housekeeping and assistance with activities.

Still, it’s not cheap: The national median cost in 2011 was $39,135, according to Genworth. Assisted living isn’t covered by Medicaid.

If they have a choice, at least 90% of elderly parents prefer to stay at home as long as they can, according to AARP research.

But if the parents can no longer safely live at home, it can be hard for children to move them into an adult care facility.

There may be another option. Sometimes the home can be modified so a parent can stay there. For example, Baldocchi put in a chair lift for her mother. She also arranged for a home caregiver.

The job of family caregivers

Family caregivers take over many responsibilities. One might manage a parent’s finances, while another sibling will take the parent to doctors’ appointments and shopping. Those who move in with a parent take on a significant and sustained burden of care.

Jan Walker moved into her mother’s home in Leesburg, Fla. After her mother, who is 83, had fallen, she wasn’t able to get around as well.

Walker, 55, has three brothers. But she is the only daughter, is divorced and has no children. “I always knew that this was the role that I would have, and I guess my mind was prepared for it,” says Walker, who now is a full-time caregiver and works from home as a tutorial instructor for a digital scrapbooking website.

“When you get into the trenches, it’s literally baptism by fire,” she says. “New things come up. It’s not just about advance planning for finances or medical care. It’s everything,” she says.

Caregivers need to also watch their own health. “There is such a thing as caregiver burnout,” Cona says. Among female caregivers 50 and older, 20% reported symptoms of depression, according to a 2010 study on working caregivers by MetLife.

“It’s a hard job,” Walker says. “But most worthwhile things are hard. She was always there for me when I needed a helping hand. It’s only natural that I be here for her now.”

Technology that can Help the Elderly

http://elderhelpers.org/blog/

Published July 13, 2012 | By elderhelpers

While a lot of technology can simplify seniors’ lives, it can also be intimidating to adopt for people growing up without the same technological innovations that we value today. Some technology gadgets for seniors are particularly popular such as:

Tablet PCs: Many technology companies like Microsoft, Apple and now Google have tablets out that have applications that seniors can enjoy like games, free limited newspaper access, internet surfing and videos.

E Readers: If the elder enjoys reading, but has difficulty seeing the text because of vision problems, E Readers are perfect for them. Some E Readers are designed for simplicity and have the ability to make the text any size so that vision is no longer a problem.

Wii: Video games systems like the Nintendo Wii give seniors the capability of enjoying the same sports that they did when it was safer for them to. The senior and their helper may enjoy activities like yoga, golf, tennis and bowling.

Cell Phones: For older seniors that still prefer the traditional land line telephone, think simple. There are many smartphones out that are unnecessarily complicated and can frustrate seniors when attempting to use them. Pay as you go phones are usually very simple, older models can be easier to use than the newer models.

It does not take very much training to use these devices; today’s technologically savvy youth may be able to give the seniors a thorough overview over any of these electronics. If you would like to find a volunteer to help seniors to use these devices, search for volunteers in your area and sign up.

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