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Recently, we have heard a lot of information about the baby boomers and how they are coming of age and retiring. But the reality is, is that many of the baby boomers still have living parents who are probably more in need of help than the baby boomers who are in the early process of retirement.
Many of the baby boomers’ parents are probably living independently now and doing fine. But sooner or later there may be a need for assistance from a family member.
Estimates suggest nearly 50 percent of baby boomers who still have a living parent are helping in some way. Help comes in the form of personal help, financial assistance or a combination.
Even the baby boomers who are not caring for their parents now realize that day is coming. They also voice some concern about their ability to do that very thing. As in all foreseeable or inevitable problems, planning is the key to addressing that problem successfully. There is a need to prepare.
Physically you might not be ready to move into your son or daughter’s house at this point, but setting up the proper financial preparations are important. Commitment of energy, emotion and time is also very important. A frank discussion of this matter is very important.
Here is an example: In most cases, relatives care for an elderly parent. In some instances, baby boomers, whether they are retired or not, will see their daily hours become less free, therefore potentially creating stress and potentially straining the relationship.
A recent statistic has suggested that unpaid caregivers such as sons and daughters contribute on an average about $3,000 for their parents’ care a year. That could be a larger figure and could create some tension between the parent and offspring. Communication is an important issue.
Parents, talk to your kids and, kids, talk to your parents and make it easier to approach touchy issues such as money and long-term care and maintaining independence as much as possible.
Next is paperwork. Make sure authority to make financial and medical decisions has been established before someone becomes incapacitated. These documents can be done with attorneys and the parent and the child should each have a copy. If you have a situation where you or your loved one is suddenly sick, the last thing you need to do is go to court. It will waste valuable time and money.
Look at insurance, as some individuals may be financially able to afford long-term care, which may be a viable option for parents to remain independent, keep their own autonomy and for children to continue their normal lifestyle and not worry about their free time, pay or benefits shrinking and looking ahead to their retirement and worrying even more.
Lastly, make sure that if you are assisting your parents or if your parent is taking care of a spouse who is very ill, that you take advantage of all the tax breaks you can. That information is available from the AARP as well as the IRS.
Pay attention. Parents, you may not need help now and, children, listen as well. You might not be caring for your elderly parents at this point in time, but this may come sooner than you think. Be prepared.
Denis Grillo, D.O., FOCOO, is an ear, nose and throat specialist in Crystal River. Call 352-795-0011 or visit CrystalCommunityENT.com.