QUESTION: My parents are getting on in age and will eventually need my assistance. I have no idea where to start planning. Can you suggest some starting points?
ANSWER: Many people avoid dealing with this subject until a crisis arises. You are to be congratulated for wanting to be prepared. There are three areas that you should become knowledgeable about, living arrangements, medical coverage and estate planning.
Talk with your parents about their thoughts on future living arrangements when and if they become unable to care for themselves. If they want to remain in their own home you will need to familiarize yourself with the community resources available to provide the support they will require. You should also research alternative living arrangements in case remaining at home is no longer an option.
You will have to become familiar with the type of medical coverage your parents have selected and what it covers.
You should obtain the name and telephone number of their primary care physician and any other physicians who are treating them. Become aware of any illnesses or disabilities they have and especially what medications they are taking.
Estate planning includes legal, financial and final needs issues. You should find out if your parents have an Advance Directive for Health Care, a will and/or trust and a general power of attorney for finances.
Know who has copies of these vial documents or where they are kept. If your parents have an attorney you should also have his or her name and telephone number.
Finances are a key part of making any arrangements. Discuss with your parents their financial resources both income and assets. This information will be of utmost importance if you need to place them in a long-term care facility or apply for government assisted programs. You should also know if they have Long Term Care Insurance.
The most difficult area to discuss will be final needs. Try to find out if your parents have made funeral arrangements and possibly have prepaid them. If no plans have been made encourage them to tell you what they want.
Discuss all issues with your parents while they are still able to make appropriate decisions and make their wishes known and if you have siblings make them part of that discussion. If your siblings do not want to be or cannot be part of the discussion making make sure that they are aware of have what has transpired.
QUESTION: At the end of your column you provide information on how to contact you. After your e-mail address you ask senders to include their telephone number. Why?
ANSWER: Most questions I receive are complex and need more than a general response. With a telephone number I can call and ask more questions in order to help the reader. This eliminates the need to e-mail back and forth, allows for a timely response and is a warmer way of responding to the reader.
TUESDAY – April 23 – 1:00 to 5:00 pm – WORKSHOP – “Dealing with Dementia Workshop” – at Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks. Learn how to understand dementia, manage problem behaviors, handle stress and find time for the caregiver. For reservations call (805) 497-0189.
WEDNESDAY -April 24 – 1:30 to 3:00 pm – Livingston Memorial Nurse Association Diabetes Class – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. No reservation needed – just drop in.
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: The Forever Young Singers is looking for a back-up piano player. This volunteer group sings at nursing homes, assisted living centers, adult day care centers and sometimes church luncheons. The programs consist of well-known songs. Practice is on Friday mornings 9:00 to 11:00 and community singing takes place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For more information call the Conejo Senior Volunteer Program office at (805) 381-2744.
Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks,CA 91362 or call (805) 495-6250 or e-mail bberry @seniorconcerns.org (please include your telephone number.)