gmhTODAY 22 gmhToday Oct Nov 2018 - Page 63

{ } AGING with an Attitude It's Never too Soon to Plan for the Unexpected T aking care of a parent is an honor. It is a privilege. In some cultures, it is a binding tradition. And, it can be very fulfi lling. But it can also be very stressful, for both the person needing care and the caregiver. This is particularly evident if the person you depend on to take care of you is juggling work, family and your care. As we age, we need to keep in mind that taking care of an adult is a complicated process that even money cannot simplify. There are a number of ways we can make it a little easier on our loved ones. Be honest about your health. Don’t hide the fact that you need help and/or have medical challenges. At Visiting Angels, we have seen it all: a young man in shock, not prepared to handle the diagnosis of a grandma who has raised him; a panicked 55- year old who thinks Dad just “suddenly” has problems walking; a confused, overly stressed 42 year-old who is falling apart at the seams trying to fi nd out how to afford care for Mom who was in a car accident. Being thrown into a crisis is tough. Don’t surprise them— let them know you are facing some challenges. Communicate your wishes. It is very diffi cult for a son or daughter to initiate the conversation that will provide them with critical information should your health become a concern, should you need care or worse should you pass on. Believe it or not, most adults don’t want to think of their parents aging, let alone passing on! It is critical that you have a conversation with your loved ones about your wishes before a crisis occurs. It will be much less stressful. Use “if this happens” scenarios to guide you. I started this conversation with my son, with a joke when he was only 16 years old. I told him, “When it is time for me to give up driving, take the car away because I have many sets of duplicate keys. I used that joke to start the conversation. It was too much for him then, but I haven’t stopped the conversations. I am preparing him for the inevitable…you should be doing that for your loved ones. Remember, crises hit people under 50 years of age too. Be ready with the information they may need ready. The best time to do this is when you don’t need help yet. Start to organize your information now and let them know where these documents are kept. You don’t need to go over all the information now, but at the very least, you must tell them how to access the information. Here are some things to include: • If you are a Veteran – get on the VA system. Let them know who you are way before you need help. There is a process of identifi cation, clarifi cation of data, etc. which could take months, before the VA could assess qualifi cation for benefi ts. Get in the system – a visit to a VA doctor is the fi rst step. Go! For your fi le, include your military infor- mation (dates of service), military card information, and Social Security card. • Gather fi nancial documents are critical to setting up care. Have bank account information, pension and retirement fund information, tax returns, documentations of assets, and insurance information in one place. If you have long-term care insurance, highlight this infomation in case your sibling needs to set-up in-home care for you. You should also provide infor- mation about safety deposit boxes, or keys your children may need access to. And yes, tell them about the cash you stashed somewhere in the house! medical history information? Who are your doctors? Do you have a DNR or an Advanced Directive? • Remember other important information: name(s) and contact info of lawyer(s) you work with, along with your tax advisor, broker(s), clergy, and even a list of people you would like contacted should you be taken to the hospital! Have copies of certifi cates (marriage, death, adoption, etc.) in case your identity has to be verifi ed. • Consult experts as needed. To ensure that your plan is legally executable and thorough– you might want to consider consulting with an elder care attorney, your accountant or fi nancial advisor, and brokers. We all want to think of aging with gusto and style and to cruise through life independently until it’s time to slip into permanent unconsciousness, with a grin on our face. But that’s just not how life works. So, spare your loved ones. Start with the tips in this article and keep the planning and organizing going. You’ve earned the right to expect your children to take care of you, but you also signed up to help them navigate through life whenever possible. This might just be the time they need you the most. So, arm them with the right information! Dorie Sugay is the Executive Director of Visiting Angels. She is a graduate of and a Gilroy Rotarian. • Gather documentation to indicate the type of care you wish for. Who is your healthcare proxy? Do you have a Living Will? Where is your personal GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2018 63