The early stages of aging parents.

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Hello, my name is Helen. My parents are in their early sixties. They are still independent but I´m afraid that won´t be for long and they´re very stubborn so I´m trying to prepare for the years to come. Also (although I have two older brothers one of them is not very involved and the other one lives abroad), I'm the youngest so they don´t take me very seriously because they still see me as the baby child, making the "taking care process" a little bit mor difficult. I hope to find some tips and advice from people that have lived this stage and give support to those who are in the same situation as me :)

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Hi, queen. I am in my early 60s, as many people here are. We are the "sandwich generation." Most of us are still independent and in reasonable health. If you're parents are still independent and doing well, it is a bit early to worry about them. You may want to talk to them about planning for their own future, instead of just deciding to "age in place" in a home with children taking care of them. They can map out if they want to travel some or maybe move into a retirement village. There are many options out there that they can choose from. If they are still healthy, it is not your worry yet, but you can start their thinking on things that they will need.
queenlearina10, I'm laughing as I type. I'm in my late sixties, living independently, still working, and reasonably healthy. I wonder if any of my five kids is "trying to prepare for the years to come" on my behalf.

It is your parents who should be in preparation mode. It is their future. As JessieBelle says they have a lot of options and the earlier they start thinking about them the better the chances of getting what they want.

Both of my grandmothers lived to their late 90s. My own mother did not start needing our help until her mid eighties (she is 93 now). Her 98-year-old sister is still living independently. Her daughters provide transportation support.

My advice to you is that if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it. Keep an eye on the situation and as they do begin to decline work with them toward their own goals. But that might not be for another 20 years! Meanwhile, talk about the future. You can do it indirectly. You can tell them that you are trying to decide how much of your income you should be saving for your retirement. Ask them what they did, and what their plans are. Do NOT imply they need you help now! Ask them how the recent reforms in health insurance impact them. Talk about planning in general. If a friends' parents moves into a retirement community tell your parents about it and ask what they think of that kind of decision.

Bless you for your interest and concern. Focus on your own life and your own future ... but keep an eye on how your parents are doing.
Dear Queenl, I'm just 60, and I'm glad that you are looking ahead. When I moved into this coop 10 years ago, I pointed out to my three kids that the building was handicap accessible and that there were 13 subway stations within walking distance. One of them has an elevator. My own mom would not listen to us initially when we asked her to consider moving from her isolated suburban house when she was in her mid 80s. I guess what I'm saying is, this is a nice easy time to start the conversation about ehat there plans are, whst their finances look like, etc. Jeanne has given you great advice, ask "around the corner " wuestions aboutehat their advice to you would be. Be aware of the fact that the past 10 years or so have not been kind to us "late boomers" and that our (or at least my and my husband's) plans are pretty much dust, due to 3 1/2 years of his being out of a job. Try to have honest talks with your folks about financial and health planning. Best of luck yo you!
Thank goodness my parents put a POA into effect years ago, in case. They also put me on ALL thier accounts in the last few years. I think my Mom knew Dad was getting ALZ and wanted to make my life easier. ( I am an only child also) So when the crap went south my job was easier. Not easy, it never is to take over care of 2 parents, but financially things are much easier. I hope to do this soon so my daughter (only child) is also spared some problems. Talk to your parents HOWEVER you can, for all your sakes! Good luck
My hubby and I are 56 and 65 and thanks for the nudge to get some paperwork I order. Yeah, we are one of those couples who still have not got around to writing a will....
Thank you for your feedback! I will try to take it all into account, although I think I need to clarify some stuff. I know my parents are independent and I don't want to get them into a home but there are some things that worry me because I want them to live this stage fully and happily.

First, they are not the planning type. You see my brother and I are lawyers and they haven´t done their will, for example. I know planning is their responsibility but I think they will try to deny it as long as they can and I don't want to get involved when it's too late. I got the tip to suggest them stuff without implying they need my help and I think that's very useful. I'll try to use it.

Secondly, my dad´s a diabetic and my mom has a heart condition. It´s not terribly bad, they can manage their illness by themselves and both of them take medication, but they don't let me know about that stuff and they haaaate being told to eat healthier or exercise. I want to get involved so (knock on wood) if something goes wrong, I'm prepared to give a doctor some answers or be able to buy the right medication. Maybe I'm being overprotective, but I don't want to get caught unprepared.

Finally, my biggest concern is how to understand them. They have started forgetting things or telling me stories again (specially my dad, he seems to feel like he's older actually) and that doesn't bother me, but I have to admit that I have to work on my patience and my sarcasm, because I don´t want to hurt their feelings. I have started reading books and stuff online, but most of it is about money or living arrangements, I don't know how to support them emotionally so they feel loved and cared, even though they are "aging".

I hope you have some recommendations so I can help my parents the best way possible. :)
I found one book on the early stages of dementia that was helpful. "Alzheimer's Early Stages" by Daniel Kuhn. The stages before a diagnosis are very confusing. The book has suggestions that are good advice for dealing with anyone stubborn, demented or not.

Can you tell them about the experiences of a friend or client who is trying to care for a parent and meeting resistance? Ask for their advice on what your friend should do. If you need inspiration, read about some of the enormous problems some posters here have! Talk about making your own will. Ask them who they would want to help them if you were to die? You could be hit by a bus any day.

Tell them you know they can take care of themselves, but would they please prepare a list of doctors and medications that you could find in case of an emergency? You don't want to get involved, and you respect their privacy, but wouldn't they want you to have the information you would need if they were in the hospital?

You should research Medicaid eligibility unless they are VERY wealthy. Talk to them, again using a "client" or "friend's parent," about the steps they might need to take to protect the surviving spouse.

Repeating stories can be a drag. You know they are in trouble when they can no longer tell their own stories correctly!

Look up "Dysfunctional Family Bingo" to give yourself a funny way to cope.

Accept that they will never plan "enough." Try to come at them sideways, and count each step in the right direction as a win.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
I had similar concerns when I confronted the reality of my own mortality. Suddenly the fact that my parents would not be with me forever became a gnawing, awful thought that kept me up at night.

I worried until I sat and talked it out with my dad.
I was just honest: I spoke from my heart.
I told him that the thought of him being sick or dying scared me to the core, and that if that were ever to happen, I feared I would be so emotionally devastated that my decision-making skills might be adversely affected. I explained that we had never spoken about issues such as this, therefore, I had no idea what kinds of decisions he would WANT me to make.

In response to this, my dad went to a lawyer and did the following:

* Last Will & Testament.
* Appointment of Durable Power of Attorney.
* Appointment of a Healthcare Power of Attorney.
* My parents made Living Wills, which outlined what they did and did not want done medically to prolong life, in the event that they are unable to tell someone themselves.

On his own, we all (myself included):

* Enrollment in the People's Memorial Association. This is a Washington State based organization, but I'm sure that other states offer something similar. You pay a one-time membership fee (not more then $20 if I recall correctly), and you are afforded discounted pricing on arrangements (funeral, cremation, etc.) I know this is not pleasant, but neither is being caught unaware should something devastating occur, and then learning why funerals are a BOOMING industry. I found out the hard (and costly) way.

Because of your proximity to your parents, you are most likely going to be the one caring for them. This should be recognized now, and made clear to anyone who may try to interfere with your responsibility to do such in the future. I know all too well what it is to be the youngest in the family, and have a "not present" sibling try to step in and throw their weight around because they feel "superior" to you. When parents become unable to care for themselves, otherwise "quiet" or absent older siblings can become power-mongering, greed-driven monsters. They will leave you alone to see to the parts of care giving they find "distasteful", and want to exercise control over administrative duties (especially those that will benefit THEM.) Don't kid yourself into thinking this cannot happen. It can and it does. It happened to me. I had to kick and fight through two years of legal battles to prevent my sister from doing things that were not in our mothers best interest. It's best if your parents lay down the law to siblings while they are still able to, but even that isn't a sure-fire promise that your siblings won't interfere in the future.

Some things I wish I had considered:

* Insurance/Income
PLEASE make sure that your parents have some provisions set up for care should they need it. Trust me, you do not want the headache of having to figure out how you will pay for this. It is EXTREMELY expensive!

* Location of Paperwork. Make sure you know where your parents keep legal documents, insurance policies, house and car titles, bank account information, etc.

* Early Establishment of a Relationship with an In-Home Care Provider. At the FIRST sign of needing help providing in-home care, get this started. As they get older, parents are less and less willing to allow someone they do not know to assist them. If you are their primary caregiver, you will need some respite at some point. What a relief it will be for you if you have someone to call who your parent is already familiar with and accepts. Trust me on this. Start it early.

No matter how old you are, your parents are your parents. If they are good at that role, they will continue to want to protect you whether you are nine or ninety years old. They are also PEOPLE, and want their wishes and feelings considered, especially in areas that are directly affect them.

It isn't easy to talk about things like this, but it's the smart thing to do. Your parents are young still, but that doesn't matter. After my dad and I talked, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I lost him less than a year later. He was only 62.

(((HUGS)))

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