We have all seen the television commercial that coined the phrase "Help! Help! I've fallen and can't get up" and the elderly woman reaches for a lifeline necklace to alert an ambulance. The reality is, that we have always deferred our decisions to the greater wisdom that our parents possessed.
There will come a time, or it is already here, that requires you to deal with some direct and vital issues regarding your aging parents.
You need to ask the serious questions before...
- Their mobility and memory has been impeded.
- There has been a catostrophic event - slip or fall
- There a medical emergency - Heart attack or Stroke
- One passes away leaving the other alone and confused
In my personal life, I remember talking to my parents about downsizing. Then suddenly one passed and now it has become more difficult to discuss because there are too many memories in that home. I remember asking my mother why she did not want to move into a bungalow, or just a smaller home with a smaller yard, and she said that she didn't want to think about renovations, and she couldn't hold the drywall for dad anymore.
I, myself, have many happy moments in this home where I grew up. I did not expect to change my perspective of asking advice from my mother to trying to make healthy decisions for her. Yet the financial realities of elder care and the direct cost of nursing homes or assisted living centers needs us all to reevaluate how we will deal with these issues.
Research the Population Numbers
By 2011, more than 1.3 million Canadians will be over the age of 80. Boomers and their aging parents need to be talking to a financial advisor or planner about their options to ensure financial security in times of death, disease and disability.
By 2021 it is expected that the senior population in Canada will be 6.7 million and 9.2 million in 2041, or nearly one in four Canadians. You need to be talking to your parents now. As a Boomer just reaching -- or about to reach -- retirement, you are probably seeing your children out the door on their way to begin their lives but at the same time you may be now, or in the future, be responsible for new dependants -- your parent(s). Medical and nutritional advances mean that the fathers of boomers can expect to live to 90, while their mothers can expect to live to 95. That means there is every chance Boomers will spend more time looking after their parents than their parents did raising them. Source FORUM, May 2008, Aging Opportunity
So, Who can Help Guide you?
There are some really great resources out there. I had the opportunity to discuss just this situation with a colleague of mine. I am fortunate to be in contact with David Pylyp and he was in contact with Dr. James Watzke, a gereontologist and Christine Flegal, a gereontologist in the Living Laboratory at the B.C. Institute of Technology who have assembled a Guide both for you as the aging Boomer but for you to initiate the conversations with Mom and Dad while you are home over the holidays.
BCIT's Mobility Now You're Going Places Program, Christine Flegal/BCIT Funding for the BCIT Mobility project was provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada, BCIT, in collaboration with Weber Shandwick Worldwide.
The Region of Peel has taken a different step in that they are outlining and explaining the different options that are available to you locally; from adding a room within your own home,
A Guide to Housing Options is available through my office or can be downloaded at
When you are next home for a visit; take a look around. You may need to nail down a few carpets that could make them trip, discuss a more suitable walker or cane. Ask where the Wills and Power of Attorney Documents are kept and if they are up to date.
Crisis management does not permit forward thinking.
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