Baby Boomers becoming caregivers for one or
both of their parents face a challenging and rewarding
responsibility. If you are in this group, you belong to a
fast growing segment of the Baby Boomer population. Elder
care is difficult, but giving back support and love to your
parents can create a special time that brings you closer.
Here is some sage advice gained through experience that will
help Baby Boomers in this journey:
Recognize that your roles are switching
- you are becoming the parent as they hand over more
responsibility and authority over their lives to you.
The time will likely come when you have to make
decisions for them.
Sit down with your parent(s) and have a
frank discussion about how they would like to spend
their "golden years."
Make sure your parent(s) have a Living
Will, so that their wishes can be carried out as they
approach death (e.g., do not resuscitate or
unnecessarily extend life by artificial means). Many
hospitals will not let you make decisions for your
parent(s) unless you are so appointed in a Living Will.
As a related caregiver, you should have
a notarized Power of Attorney that allows you to make
decisions if your parent(s) are incapable of doing so.
It is also a good idea to become a joint account
holder on their bank accounts and investments. If your
parents have a living trust, you should be named as
successor trustee, so you can step in as financial
manager if needed.
If necessary, help them set up a system
to ensure that bills are paid on time.
If you are concerned about a parent's
ability to continue driving, talk to their doctor or
notify the local Department of Motor Vehicles (which may
be able to require a driving test).
Have a written list of all the
medications your parent(s) use, including dosage. Know
how to contact their primary care physician. Have copies
of their insurance records. This is very important
information for emergency room personnel and hospitals.
Discuss funeral and internment wishes
with your parent(s).
In a tactful way, help your parent(s)
sort through their belongings. Whom would they like to
receive special items? What can be gotten rid of?
Make sure your parent(s) have a written,
witnessed Will to avoid the messy, expensive and lengthy
probate process. Ideally, the primary caregiver
should be the Executor of the Will.
Know where all important documents are.
If you feel like you need help, there are
state, local and federal senior services organizations that
provide a wealth of free or low-cost services. They
can provide meals, transportation, training and in-home
professional services to assist you as a caregiver or to
help your parent(s) continue to live independently in the
community. Also, there are online service where Baby Boomers
can identify and explore benefits to which they and their
parent (s) are entitled. Start with the National Council on
Aging which covers local, state and federal programs.
Finally, this is a precious time. Include your parent(s) in
activities and let them know everyday that you love them. A
caregiver's journey creates memories that will be treasured
for the rest of your life.
About The Author
Al Kernek is a Internet marketing consultant, author
and Baby Boomer. Learn more about issues facing Baby Boomers seeking to retire on a fixed income at www.BabyBoomerLifeboat.com which is also an online portal to Websites containing valuable information and resources for Baby Boomers.
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