BOSTON (CBS) – With Mother’s Day next Sunday I thought this would be a good week to discuss our elders.
May is national Older Americans Month. The government considers anyone over 65 as being an older American.
Women are living to an average of 80.4 years. Individuals over 85 are the largest growing demographic in the United States.
So if you have parents who are elderly they will probably need your help at some time.
So that said how about spending some time this week with your mom helping her get her financial stuff in order. This would make a great mother’s day gift.
As our parents age we do begin to worry about them. You want to watch for changes in their behavior, especially the sudden ones. Have you noticed that they are having some difficulties?
- Have they become more forgetful – remember that as we age we all normally forget where we put the car keys or parked the car.
- Is their home in disarray with piles of stuff everywhere – be careful here – was it always in disarray with piles of stuff.
- Is there unopened mail?
- Are the bills being paid on time?
- Are they getting dunning letters from credit card companies?
- Do they know where their important papers are?
- Do they understand the medications they are taking? Drug interactions?
- Are there personality changes?
If you think they need help, approaching them about getting the help may be very awkward. Talk to other relatives first, their siblings, your siblings, to see if they have noticed the same things.
I would suggest a quiet time to begin this process. A family gathering on Mother’s Day may be too hectic and already filled with stress. Ask open-ended questions so they will talk about how they feel. If you ask them if they need help paying their bills, the answer will be no! Instead ask them if they have any concerns about running out of money.
Tell them how forgetful you are becoming or the fact that you forgot to pay the electric bill. Ask them about their concerns, what are they worried about:
- Outliving their money; do they have enough
- Health issues; do they have a power of attorney & health care proxy
- Living alone; do they want to move; closer to the kids, assisted living
- Taking care of themselves
- Nursing home care (this usually gets an immediate and loud response!)