What to do when your parents need you most

December 13, 2012

COLUMNS

Nancy Anderson, MBJ contributing columnist

We’re at that stage. It’s the one where you feel the need to gather your siblings and have conversations about your parents. The trip to my husband’s home over Thanksgiving confirmed our suspicions. His parents’ health is declining, and they need help with basic needs.

All around us, friends are having these same conversations in their families. A health system that extends life without, necessarily, extending the quality of that life leaves us with more questions than answers. Families that no longer live next door to aging parents add to the confusion. Swapping caretaking roles when one party refuses to give up control only makes it worse.

We are starting to see business responding to these great needs, but it’s not happening fast enough or widespread enough. How do you make sure Mom is eating right? Is Dad taking the prescribed medicine? Are they paying their bills on time? Is someone taking advantage of their confusion?

And how do grown children meet their obligation to their parents when they live hundreds of miles away? You can pay someone to chauffeur your parents, pay their bills, clean their homes and prepare their meals. And don’t expect it to all get done just because they are in some long-term care facility. You can’t pay for the personal care that only a family member can provide.

As I watch these scenes unfold, I tell myself that I will be different. When my time comes, I will sacrifice my desires and do whatever it takes to make it easy on my daughter. I tell myself that, but it may not be so easy. So, I have already started talking to her about that time. I have given her permission to take matters into her own hands because I may not be able to give over control.

Baby boomers should take note. Start planning. Talk to your family about what you want. Make preparations for the decline — because it will come.

>> Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is nanderson@newper.com, and her website is www.newper.com.

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One Response to “What to do when your parents need you most”

  1. Frank Lawson Says:

    Very insightful article. My parents are both gone so it won’t help them I’ve heard of an old Alaskan Indian custom where the elderly are cared for until the day the elderly person decides that enough is enough and for the sake of the family begins their Winter Walk. They remove enough clothing to be momentarily comfortable and then walk off into the Winter night. That is the path I too will follow at some point in the future. It won’t be so baring but I see no purpose in being a mental and financial drain on my family and society just so I can keep breathing without being able to accomplish anything. I will be sure to check back to this site for future articles. Keep up the great work,

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