Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Never Too Soon to Plan

My sister and I began talking with Mom and Dad about health proxies and power of attorney long before Dad spent his final years in a wheel chair. Rheumatoid arthritis struck at age 45, followed in later years by strokes and other conditions. Our mother became his primary caregiver. My sister and I both lived hundreds of miles away from our parents. This made it even more important that we talk about what their preferences were as age and illness progressed. Like many other seniors, they wanted to stay at home as long as possible. Insisted on it, in fact. We looked at their financial information, insurances, health plans, wills and every piece of the puzzle to plan for the years ahead.

Boomers everywhere who have elderly parents need to initiate the conversation on living preferences and care BEFORE it becomes necessary. According to research by the AARP, too many still wait until a crisis strikes and try to make major changes to our loved ones lives. It's not always easy, I'll admit. If Dad doesn't want to discuss it, work on Mom and try to ease into things. Gather articles from the newspaper or the internet on topics you want to discuss with them. Use these while you talk or leave them to read at a later time. There may not be as much resistance as you think once you break the ice. Knowing how to plan can give enormous peace of mind to all involved.

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