Posts Tagged ‘Family Relationships’

It is not uncommon to have family members provide care for their aging parents or relatives.  This is understandable when one considers that most people would be more comfortable with their own family than with a stranger providing assistance with their activities of daily living. In fact, according to a recent study, about 21% of the population provides such family care.  These generous persons provide an average of 21 hours per week over a period of 4.5 years.

One problem with this approach, however, is that family caregivers are often forced to cut back on their employment or even quit their jobs in order to provide for their parents.  Especially in a difficult economy this can create financial hardship for the caregiver and that person’s immediate family.  Hence, many persons ask if there are any government programs that will pay family caregivers to provide care for their loved ones. (more…)


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It is becoming increasingly common for family members to provide care to a loved one from a distance.  This is an inevitable result of the shift from the days when families were multigenerational in the same area (or sometimes the same house!) to the modern trend where the family members are distant from one another.  Hence, it is not uncommon to find a child from a different area or state being responsible for an aging parent or parents.

With the distance approach, however, comes a unique set of problems.  The distant caregiver cannot generally take the proper amount of time to care for the loved one. This is especially true as the care needs increase over time.  The caregiver increasingly relies upon telephone contact with medical and other professionals to meet the needs of the loved one. (more…)

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In today’s day and age advances in medicine have permitted us to extend and preserve life more than ever before.  However, for most that means that there is a period of time — especially as we age — when we will live with a disability.  Thus, there needs to be a way of appointing someone to help us with legal and financial decisions when we are not able.  This is especially important when long-term care costs threaten to drain an estate that could be saved with the proper grant of authority.   

A “power of attorney” is the most common way of appointing someone to help with important legal and financial decisions.  It is a written document wherein one can appoint someone to handle some or all of their legal and financial affairs.  The document is based on agency law.  You (the one appointing) are called the “principal” and the one appointed is called the “agent”.   (more…)

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Many of my clients are being cared for by loved ones or are providing that kind of care for others. Sensitivity to the difficulties they face can help all of us provide better service to the elderly and their caregivers.

As the population of elderly people in our country continues to increase, so does the number of adult children who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their aging relatives. According to the Census Bureau, about 1 in 8 Americans were elderly in 1994, but about 1 in 5 will be elderly by the year 2030—and will increasingly require the assistance of loved ones to obtain the care they need.

According to a 6-year study on elderly people caring for spouses with Alzheimer’s Disease, the stress involved with caregiving can negatively impact your health. The study, done at Ohio State University in 2003, found a significant deterioration in the health of caregivers and a 63% higher death rate than the similar group of non-caregivers. The continuous demands placed on an adult child caring for an aging parent can induce illness and depression, limit the effectiveness of the caregiver, and even lead to premature death. (more…)

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According to a recent study, when asked about their most important concerns for the future the elderly are most fearful about:

1) Remaining independent in their homes without intervention from others;

2) Maintaining good health and receiving adequate health care;

3) Having enough money for everyday needs and not outliving assets and income.

While the elderly are certainly concerned about long-term care disability and the resulting catastrophic needs, those items are not ranked at the top of the list. What most seniors don’t realize is that in order to achieve the three top goals listed above one generally needs to plan ahead. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be happening.

Currently, long-term care costs are running, on an average, about $6500 per month (The MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home & Assisted Living Costs, October, 2007). At that rate, most persons’ savings will be depleted in less than an average stay in a nursing home (2.5 years). Thus, an extended disability that requires long-term care is probably the most catastrophic event that could happen. It can make it impossible for a senior citizen to achieve the three goals mentioned above, destroying any hope for a secure future. For example, with the need for long-term care the older person: a) Loses independence b) Has experienced a loss of good health c) Uses up remaining assets and income. (more…)

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More and more these days we hear about the “sandwich generation.”  This is defined as the generation of people who are involved with the simultaneous demands of caring for their own children as well as their aging parents.  How can these competing demands be met? 

            According to Alex Johnson in his article A Generation Caught Between Two Others (msnbc.com, Feb. 13th, 2007) there are 20 million Americans who are “sandwiched” between the demands of their children and aging parents.  The typical solution is shown by the word “sandwich” – the children end up taking a large share of the responsibility.  In 2006 there were 32 million Americans who were caregivers to their aging parents.  Thus, it is not surprising that caring for aging parents was cited as the number one concern in the minds of Baby Boomer financial services clients (The Financial Life Planning Institute, November, 2007).

            While the children of aging parents end up taking much responsibility it is often unintentional.  Senior citizens generally do not want to be thought of as a burden to their children and often experience guilt and remorse when they believe that they may become so.  (more…)

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The pain and stress of dealing with a loved one with a long-term illness can lead to tension.  This tension also arises after the loved one passes away and the family has to deal with inheritance issues.  Cordial relationships between family members often become strained.  In fact, animosity can result – sometimes causing a break in long-time associations and substituting animosity instead of fraternal camaraderie.

One solution is “elder mediation.”  This is a new tool to help families heal broken relations, solve difficult issues arising from dealing with elderly parents or prevent misunderstandings or problems from happening in the first place.

In the context of dispute resolution mediation has been around for a long time.  However, it only recently has been applied to helping to solve problems with the elderly.  Thus, the term “elder mediation” is not commonly known, but nevertheless, it is still very important.  To illustrate, mediation has become common in recent years in the area of “family mediation.”  Such family mediators typically handle negotiations and disagreements in domestic relations cases involving divorce, child custody and parenting time, juvenile cases or the settlement of estate plans.  The tensions that arise from families caring for aging parents also provide an area where mediators can truly help. (more…)

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