By Bob Kohut
Once upon a time few people reached the ripe old age of 100. Fewer still maintained physical health and mental well being into their 90s. But with better medical care and more attention to diet and exercise an astounding number of seniors are reaching both those milestones. Boomers caring for the elderly are now a fact of life, and will continue to be so.
The thought of 60 year old Boomers caring for the elderly parents who may need assistance for a long time can be a daunting prospect. If you are a Boomer already confronted with this reality or who soon will be, you need to be prepared; not only for your parents, but also for yourself.
Be Prepared for the Elderly
Some Boomers avoid having a conversation with their elderly parents about the future as long as the present poses no problems. Mom and Dad can take care of themselves so why upset the apple cart with a potentially painful and awkward discussion of things that have yet to take place and may be hard to imagine.
At some point someone in the family needs to consider the issue of what to do when Mom and Dad can no longer care for themselves; a day which will inevitably come.
If Mom and Dad refuse to be involved, it’s up to you and your siblings to get prepared. If your siblings refuse to engage in what must be done, it may be up to you alone.
Preparations begin by learning all available options for eldercare in your area. In today’s troubled economic times and the potential for stagnant economic growth in the future, cost is a key concern. Many Boomers begin by looking into retirement communities and assisted living centers instead of first concentrating on the community resources available, which are always less costly and in some cases free.
There is hardly a single community of size anywhere in the country that doesn’t have some form of town or country senior citizens center. Start there and learn everything you can about options they offer, including things like nursing visitations, meals on wheels, and transportation services for seniors. Look into in-home caregivers. Put a plan together and be ready.
Be Prepared for Yourself
Mom and Dad are not the only ones who will be impacted when the day comes where they will need serious assistance. You need to prepare yourself as well.
Are you financially prepared to hire professional in-home help or send one or both of your parents to a senior day care center? Can you survive if you or your spouse has to stop working to stay at home to care for your seniors?
What about your own emotional needs? Even for those who can afford more expensive options, the constant worry over what’s next can have significant impact on not only your emotional state of being, but your physical health as well. Do you have older children or adult children who can help? Have you talked to them about the future of caring for your aging parents?
Boomers caring for the elderly are inevitable. As in many aspects of life the future belongs to those who prepare for it. So don’t wait to begin preparing.