Many of us have aging parents. Since we as the children are also aging, it makes sense. Many of us also find ourselves sometimes scrambling to help the elders in our lives plan for the days ahead.
Although there are myriad resources, agencies, groups and associations dedicated to getting this type of information out, it can be overwhelming. Might I suggest an alternative?
In my own experiences, I’ve faulted in a few ways:
1. Waiting until a crisis occurs and then trying to plan in a haze of worry and stress.
2. Burying and confusing elders with a ton of information that may be familiar to me, but is an avalanche of jargon and paper to them.
3. Pressing for immediate answers.
Not exactly “conversation.” Maybe somewhere between lecturing and uttering mysterious incantations is better.
There are many things to think about when tripping through these particular woods, and exploring them in and during conversation can be much less intimidating.
Below are just some of the areas to consider — keeping in mind # 2 and 3 above. A flow in periodic chats can really be more productive.
• Medicare, etc.
Are elders already on, or soon to be eligible for, Medicare? Remember that this includes Part D (prescriptions) and supplemental/medigap programs (covering what Medicare does not). They also may be eligible for extra help or Medicare Savings Programs which can offset co-pays and in some instances actually pay for the Part B (clinics, doctors) premium.
• Advance Healthcare Directives/POLST, etc.
Durable Powers of Attorney may be put in place to appoint someone to make medical decisions if they are unable to do so. Also, POLST is a list of what they want/do not want in the way of end of life treatments.
• Living options
If a decision is made to live elsewhere in order to have support services in place, explore options such as Assisted Living. Or if choosing to remain home, in-home care may be the option in order to have support services in the home.
• Wills, etc.
Are wills up to date? Are family members knowledgeable of it?
• Staying healthy and socially connected
Senior centers often provide opportunities for socialization, fall prevention, yoga, tai chi, etc.
Of course there as many areas to consider as there are dynamics in our lives as people. Hopefully this can be a starting point for conversation — and as conversation, let it flow. Unless there’s a crisis, each of these discussions can occur naturally.
For more information about these areas, contact either of the numbers at the end of this column. There are people here who work in and around these areas on a daily basis. A little more sharing and a little less lecturing is a good thing.
Information & Assistance
Long Beach: 360-642-3634