Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Grandparents Raising Grandkids

Elizabeth at GenBetween has an excellent post on the problem of grandparents raising the children of deployed soldiers. She raises a valid point, something we should all consider.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Women Care for Aging Parents

According to an online survey conducted for Securian Financial Group, Inc, women expect to care for their aging parents and are willing to take on the responsibility, but few take steps to plan for it. 84 percent of the women surveyed with a parent who had received care indicated no plans were made until care was needed. This procrastination can create a crisis situation, forcing family members to take unplanned time off work to provide care or scrambling to find quality care, either at home or in a care facility.

Other findings of the study included:

Of the women whose parents both are living, approximately 22 percent indicated they expect to take time off of work to care for aging parents, while 52 percent indicated they did not expect to take time off.

Those expectations may not be realistic. A 2004 report by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, revealed that at least six out of 10 employed caregivers adjusted their work schedules because of caregiving responsibilities. An estimated nine percent left the workplace altogether and 10 percent reduced their hours from full to part time.

Nearly half of all women in the Securian survey said they are concerned about the quality of care their parents will receive because of the women’s own limited finances. Thirty-two percent said they are concerned about quality of care because of their parents’ limited finances.

With the annual cost of nursing home care averaging $75,000, this is a legitimate concern. The likelihood of needing long-term health care sometime in your life is currently 43 percent and that number is expected to rise as the population ages. It’s important that women explore care issues with their parents and start planning for their own future care needs.”

Sixty two percent of women reported that they are concerned their money will not last through retirement and 57 percent agreed that after meeting current financial obligations, there is little money to put away for retirement.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Home Health Care Guide Online

CarePilot has recently launched a new service that uses Internet technology to help consumers find quality home health care services. It enables individuals to search for, compare, and select from more than 8,000 Medicare-certified home health care providers in communities throughout the U.S. Plus it offers CarePilor Connections, a social network that allows consumers to compare notes with one another. It’s new, so activity is limited but expected to increase.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Be Prepared to Manage Older Parents’ Finances

Certified Financial Planner Linda Sims reminds Gen Sandwichers, “One of the most important aspects of care giving, yet often the most difficult subject for children and their parents to discuss, is finances. Basic facts such as how much money your parents have, how much they owe and where money is kept are important for you to know.

Equally important is knowing about their life, long-term care and medical insurance policies. You also should know whether your parents have a will and where a copy can be found.” This is information you will need if you suddenly find yourself responsible for managing their finances.

Sims lists several of the most important financial issues to help you prepare for such a scenario:

•Income – How much money comes in to your parents and from where? Do they have company pensions, government pensions or Social Security benefits?

•Assets – Get a list of checking and savings accounts and investments such as 401(k) accounts, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit and life insurance polices. Don’t overlook other assets such as residential and commercial real estate.

•Stored assets and valuable documents – Do your parents have safe deposit boxes? Where are they? Where are the keys? Whose names are on the signature cards? Where are their important documents stored? What about valuables such as jewelry, antiques and collectibles? How about birth certificates and their Social Security and driver’s license numbers?

•Insurance – How much and what types of medical, life and long-term care insurance do your parents have? Specifically, what do their policies cover? Do they have supplemental insurance? How are the payments made – a fact you’ll want to know to prevent coverage termination due to a payment lapse.

•Wills – Do your parents have wills? Who have your parents named as executors, trustees and powers of attorney? If your parents don’t have wills, urge them to work with an attorney and create them so they can avoid potentially huge tax consequences.

In addition to this information, make sure that you have contact information for your parents’ professional advisers including attorneys, accountants and insurance agents. That way, you’ll know where to turn for help and information in the event of parental illness or death.

While talking with your parents about finances isn’t easy, it is essential for you to get answers now about how to manage the financial responsibilities you may have to assume on their behalf. It will help you help them as they meet the inevitable challenges of aging.

Although every family is different, I found that by beginning to talk about financial and financial planning early, years before there was any need for my involvement, it set the stage for ongoing discussions. And then, when I needed to be more directive, we already had a pattern of openness established.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Elderly Move to be Near Families

USA Today reports that an increasing number of seniors are moving to be closer to their boomer children and grandchildren. The new migration of seniors is usually compelled by medical problems to leave their longtime surroundings to live near their adult children. Such a move can be even more emotionally and logistically complex than those facing a teenager decamping for college.

“For the elderly, uprooting can bring on depression, the result of everything from the challenges of navigating a new town to an uncomfortable level of dependence on their offspring. For the boomers who are their children, they face redefining relationships with parents and struggling with added financial and emotional responsibilities.”

The article continues, “Moving is one of life's greater stresses, even more so when a senior faces the prospect of uprooting from familiar turf to an unknown town. Andrea Cohen of HouseWorks, which helps the elderly live independently, offers advice on the transition:

Adult children should

Broach the subject sooner rather than later. "Ask your parents what their preferences would be if it ever got too difficult for them to stay in their home," Cohen says.

Expect resistance. Though moving closer to you "might seem logical, it might take them a while to accept that."

Make a detailed plan. "It's an enormous job," with tasks that can include selling a house, planning an estate sale and rounding up medical records. "Give yourself as much time as possible."

Ask tough questions. "Whether it's figuring out how long your parents' money will last or how to help them without losing your job or neglecting your children, be realistic about the challenges ahead."

Seniors should

Envision the future. From the details of your new home to the kind of community you want to be in, it's crucial to give shape to your desires before you move.

Visit the targeted town. Check out everything from grocery stores to health care providers. "The more you know, the easier it will be when you start living there."

Be selective with possessions. "Get help with the sorting process or you'll wind up taking too much" to your new home, which probably will be smaller.

Think positive. "Shift your thinking away from what you're leaving behind, and toward this new phase of life where you can continue to learn and grow."

As I look toward the rapidly advancing possibility of needing to move my mom to a safer location and at the same time wanting to move to be nearer our son, these are good thought stimulants.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Funeral Pre-Planning Makes Life Easier

As expected, the major responsibility for planning my step dad’s memorial service fell to me. But my parents did something right! (My mom would be amazed to hear me say this, although I’ve already told her). They pre-planned and pre-paid their funeral details.

When we came home from the hospital, Mom went to the closet and pulled out a large folder marked “Funeral.” In it were the pre-need contracts for both of their services, as well as drafts of their obituaries. We made an appointment at the mortuary for the next day and went in to meet with the funeral director. We had talked about what we wanted and what we didn’t, and were done in an hour.

What we learned is that when you make a change in the pre-need contract, it reverts to today’s prices. But they had purchased more than they needed, so we were able to subtract several hundred dollars from the original price. They had paid for it with a life insurance policy, which has continued to increase, so it’s all covered and it looks as if we’ll get a refund. I’m not sure we got the best deal, but saving so much over what they had expected to pay—and having it paid for—made the decisions easy.

I was able to write the obituary and program materials from the items in the file. What a relief to be able to just sit down and write. Especially since I had never lived with them and didn’t know a lot about his past.

So, thanks to Mom and Dad for making this Gen Sandwicher’s job so much easier. And now, it’s time for my husband and I to do the same for our son. The National Care Giver’s Library offers forms to help you.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

A Death

I haven’t posted lately. My step dad went into the hospital over a week ago. We arrived on Monday and he passed away Tuesday. God was gracious and allowed him to pass reasonably quickly and peacefully. But as many of you know, I’m busy dealing with a lot of arrangements. I’ll be back as soon as I can.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Dad declining

Just a short post today. My step dad continues to decline. I talked to the doctor today and he says that Dad isn’t rallying enough to heal. His kidneys are failing and he has pneumonia. Mom seems to be holding up pretty well. I’ve talked to my sibs, who are covering the weekend. I’ll go over Monday for a few days. That will give Mom almost a week with family there. I do hope he can hang on until I get there. Meanwhile, we’ll have a few hours with the kids, who are expected to arrive tomorrow evening. We talked about meeting them at Mom and Dad’s but DS is fighting a cold and it would lengthen their trip. So the plan at this moment is to go on with our family plans for the holiday. Of course, that could change at any moment…

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sandwich Generation --a triple decker

My step dad has been in the hospital since Thursday, the same day I left for an important professional conference. It was, of course, a dilemma to decide if I should leave after spending a small fortune to be there or go stand by my mom. She insisted that she didn’t need me, but I wasn’t sure. You know, the eldest, responsible Gen Sandwicher. I prayed and considered my options and then called his daughter, explaining that I really couldn’t get away, but she might want to stay in touch. My brother was willing to go, but Mom said she was fine.

Unfortunately, cell coverage at the retreat center where I was is terrible and Mom is hard of hearing, so I could hear her, but she couldn’t hear me. So she had to call my husband and give him the information, and then I’d call him and get it, except that he couldn’t hear me. Challenging.

I haven’t been able to talk to Dad's doctor, but the prognosis doesn’t sound good. Looks like pneumonia plus who knows what else. So for now it’s a day by day. I may be here for Easter; I may be there. And of course, our son and DDIL are coming up so we need to balance kidults and aging parents--and profession. Feeling a little smooshed here.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Gifts for Aging Parents

Associated Content has a great article on gift ideas for aging parents. Clearly, they have enough stuff. I know I’m always trying to encourage Mom to get rid of stuff. Their ideas are ways to show love while not adding to the clutter.

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