Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

When You Need to Manage Finances offers five steps to managing your parents’ money. They make some great points, including:
  1. Create a single guide that summarizes all financial information.
  2. Get a broad Power of Attorney (POA) document.
  3. Close the loopholes by making sure that each financial institution will accept that POA.
  4. Get additional proxies for health care.
  5. Go slowly. If possible, don’t take over everything all at once.
I found that when I was trying to handle things for my mom after Dad died, each company had a different requirement. Sometimes it was downright comical. I’d explain that she doesn’t hear well, so I was handling the call for her. Inevitably, the party on the other side wanted to talk to her to get her permission to talk to me. She’d yell at them. They’d yell at her. I’d tell her, “Say yes.” She’d say yes. They were happy. She was confused. I could have had anyone on the other end of the line. How did they know if she was really my mom?

Little by little, we got things taken care of. I set up online access wherever I could, allowing me to manage things from home. Now I have access to her bank accounts and can transfer money from one account to another electronically. Much easier.

I was going through my binder in preparation for our trip to Mom’s tomorrow and realized that I need to get organized once again. I had things pretty well under control a year ago, but haven’t been needed much since then. It’s time to think financial again…

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Still Feeling Smooshed

Thanks to all who have sent good wishes regarding our latest saga. Brother #2 was able to get a week’s vacation and did an amazing job caring for Mom and arranging all of the care she needed while we flew off to a graduation.

He’s never done anything like this before. I’ve handled all of the medical, legal, and financial details, so dealing with doctors, home health, Meals on Wheels, and Life Alert stretched him tremendously. I was very comfortable with the decisions he made. We talked a couple of times per day and I was able to help him decide who to call and what questions to ask, but it was up to him to understand the details and sign the contracts. As far as I can tell, he did fine.

I’m writing this from the Chicago airport on our way home. We have two days to do laundry and open the mail. I have class all day Saturday, and then our plan is to go over to Mom’s on Sunday or Monday so I can see for myself how she’s doing. When I talk to Mom, she’s always upbeat and tells me she’s doing just fine. Unfortunately, she doesn’t always tell me the truth. In the past she’s fallen and even blacked out and never told me. So I don’t trust her words. That’s so frustrating. How do you deal with that?

I must confess that I’m frustrated with needing to go over next week. We traveled to see our son and DIL in late April/early May. We were home for a week, with an all day class and then left for this trip. We’ve been gone since the 13th and are exhausted. I was so looking forward to staying home for a while and getting my garden in. I’m already late for California; I’ll be harvesting for Thanksgiving! I know—welcome to Gen Sandwich….

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers’ Day, Gen Sandwichers. It’s been another interesting week here. Last week Mom fell in a parking lot and sprained her ankle quite badly. (At least she didn’t break a hip, which has been my concern for her.) Somehow she managed to drive herself home and a few hours later to the ER. She called my sister, who lives closest to her. Sis offered to pick her up, but Mom drove herself home and managed to get into the house. Sis emailed me, mad at Mom for not calling and the hospital for allowing her to drive home. I forwarded the emails to the brothers and by morning there was a plan in place. Brother #1 went over for the day, got her settled, and called in an evaluation. Brother #2 arranged to take vacation time for the week and arrived Friday night. He’s there for the week. Bless him!

She’ll see the doctor on Tuesday. Then we need to figure out the next step. Unfortunately, hubby and I have reservations to travel to the east coast during the couple of next weeks for a graduation. It seems that every time there’s a family emergency, I’m traveling! Fortunately, others have been willing to step up to the plate.

We still have to figure out what to do when Brother #2 has to go back to work before I return home. I’m not sure she’s safe to stay home alone, even though that’s her choice. Will I have to be the decision maker – again? I feel smooshed…

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Who Will Care for Us?

An Institute of Medicine (IOM) study suggests that there won’t be enough geriatricians when the 78 million baby boomers (like us) begin turning 65 in 2011.

By 2030, there will be an estimated 8,000 geriatricians, but the nation will need 36,000, according to the Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs. Today, there are about 7,100 geriatricians in the U.S. -- a 22% decline from 2000.

The IOM report recommended that all health care workers increase in geriatric competency to offset the shortage in geriatric specialists. It also called for the adoption of interdisciplinary care models and a fundamental change in how health care is reimbursed.

The study cited low reimbursement as the biggest barrier to building the geriatrician supply. In 2005, average geriatrician income was $163,000, compared with $175,000 for a general internist. It’s important to prevent further cuts in Medicare payments so all physicians can continue to accept new Medicare patients. "Reimbursement is a huge barrier," said American College of Physicians President David Dale, MD. "We get relatively low rates for the substantial time it takes to be a good doctor for an older person."

I’m reading an increasing number of articles on the crumbling health care and reimbursement system for aging Boomers. We need to seriously consider what the best health care system is and how to pay for it.

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