Dr. Mor's Column - June

By Eva Mor, PhD

In 2030 there will be 71 million Americans over the age of 65, and 60% of them will need some sort of health care assistance, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. In a recent survey conducted by AARP, among Americans 45 and older, only 15% knew the cost of nursing home care, and only 27% knew the cost of assisted living. In another survey, 55% of the same age group mistakenly believed that Medicare covers long-term nursing home stays. It does not. Medicare will cover 100 days of rehabilitative services, after at least 3 days of hospital stay for a condition from which the patient is projected to recover. With such a lack of information, it is not surprising that only 6% of Americans have adequate long-term care insurance.

Within the next 10 years, 77 million Americans will be 55 years and older, and although 34 million baby boomers are family caregivers to some extent, 7 million of them are living 400+ miles from their aging parents (AARP). To be able to provide the best care and quality of life for our parents, and plan our own retirement, we need to familiarize ourselves with the options that are out there, as well as the cost involved.

While developing a plan for your parentsí needs as they age, it would be smart to start to plan for yourself. The earlier you start to prepare the less costly it will be. You will have time to research all the options available to your parents as well as you.

At some point our parents become more and more dependent on us, and the initial stages creep up almost unnoticed. The decline may take months or even years. Your parent starts slipping in behavior and physical functions. It is essential that you are educated to recognize the different stages, and step in to make sure that your parents are safe.

Before a crisis occurs, you need to know your parentsí situation, what insurance they have and what the insurance covers, over and above Medicare coverage. You want to know what legal instruments are in place, such as Wills, Health Proxy, and Power of Attorney. What is their financial situation, what are their monthly expenses? Many elderly are very uncomfortable discussing finances with their children. They feel that they may lose control over their affairs. You and your parents need to be partners in planning their future. That is why the conversation needs to begin early, when your parents can fully partake in the conversation, and their wishes can be fully incorporated into their retirement plan. The sooner you develop a plan for your parents and for yourself, the better, although you should know that it is never too late.

In Making the Golden Years Golden you will find multitude sources of information that will guide you in your journey setting up the best care for your parents in a safe environment, making safe investments, and familiarization with agencies that can be of help. Our society, though very complex and far from perfect, still offers a very rich life for the seniors.