Posts Tagged "aging parents"

Securing Our Future Finances

Posted by on Sep 8, 2010 in Financial and Tax Matters | 0 comments

When helping aging parents with money matters or planning our own retirement, we may be drawn to investments that guarantee a more predictable future income and protect us against financial risks. Here are examples of investments that offer some degree of guaranteed income:  1. Savings accounts pay very low rates of interest and often don’t keep pace with inflation, but offer certainty…and quick, easy access to your money. 2. Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GIC’s) have long been attractive for conservative investors. They guarantee both principal and interest. Returns are lower than many other investments…and money can be “locked up” for months or years. 3. An annuity may provide guaranteed income for life in exchange for paying a lump sum today. 4. Some products offer “blended” guarantees. Your principal is guaranteed and you also receive some return when the stock market is in a growth phase. 5. Long term care insurance, while not strictly an investment, can also help in cases where physical or mental decline results in us or our aging parents needing more help.  “It’s tempting to flock towards products with guarantees, especially when markets are uncertain. But it may not be the best solution in the long run,” Says Dan Beyaert, a Certified Financial Planner. “Investing in something guaranteed can give you some short-term certainty. However, you need some stocks or equities to help you handle inflation in the future,” he explains. Beyaert advises a more balanced, three-part approach: (1) Hold a combination of guaranteed and growth investments to balance your risk with your need for good returns. (2) Have enough guaranteed investments to cover your day-to-day cash needs in retirement. (3) Re-balance your investments from time to time, to meet your short-term needs and long-term goals. “The most important thing is to stay disciplined, especially when there is chaos all around,” adds Beyaert. “Market movements depend on opinions and emotions – usually fear and greed. Don’t get caught up in it.” ElderWise adds these tips for families concerned about the future: 1. Examine how future events and circumstances might affect your finances. Review everything from spousal pensions to costs of getting more help at home, and costs of seniors’ housing. 2. Ensure that your parents are getting sound financial advice. For example, if they don’t have a financial advisor, you could talk to them about how to connect with someone. 3. If your parents look to you for financial support, you may need to have a series of conversations about what you may be able to do – and what is not feasible. 4. Money can be a highly emotional topic. Keep the tone of your discussions calm and respectful. 5. Family members often have different beliefs and attitudes about money. It may take several discussions for everyone to feel comfortable and to come up with a plan. Just like getting – and taking – good medical advice, sound financial advice influences our well-being by helping us feel more certainty about our future. Dan Beyaert is a Certified Financial Planner with Planning Professionals/ IPC. He teaches retirement planning courses for several school boards and corporations, and has been interviewed on CBC radio. For more information, visit http://planningprofessionals.ca. Sign up for Dan’s free quarterly newsletter, which discusses investment ideas and other financial topics at planpro@westmountgrp.com Vol. 4, No. 14 © ElderWise Publishing 2008. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE...

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Aging Parents and Sibling Rivalry

Posted by on Sep 7, 2010 in Family Relationships | 0 comments

When an aging parent is thrown into a crisis, siblings have the chance torally around each other and use their strengths to cope with the crisis in a way that serves everyone’s best interests. But old rivalry, competition and established role relationships and scripts can heighten conflict and crisis. How can brothers and sisters put aside these patterns when they are forced together to help their aging parents?  First, recognize and accept differences. You and your siblings do not necessarily share values, beliefs, and experiences; in fact, you may come from different generations! If you are an “early boomer” born between 1946 -1950, you are close to retirement and likely addressing some of your own aging issues. If your youngest sibling was born 15 years later in the early 60’s, you two may not have much in common. This “late boomer” is still involved in work and career and raising children. Next, respect the differences. This is easier said than done, but necessary for working together for a common family goal. This process requires internal work – to abandon judgment and criticism of someone whose views are different from yours. Then, really listen. Possibly the most important communication skill is to become an “active listener.” It takes work, but listening to others can help you to find common ground.  Here are five tips on being a better listene  Listen at least as much as you talk. Ideally, listen more than you speak. Try to understand (if not agree with) the other’s point of view.o  Ask for clarification if you do not understand o  Give positive –  or at least neutral – feedback on their ideas Suspend judgment and assumptions while listening. Listen for the feelings that lie beneath the words. Avoid the temptation to become sarcastic or critical. Active listening requires intention as well as attention! Each person must truly want what’s best for everyone, not just to advance his or her own agenda.  Involving an impartial outside party, such as a trusted family friend, advisor, or counsellor, can help interrupt these patterns. The presence of an impartial third party in the room is often enough, in itself, to change the tone of family conversations. A skilled third party can also be helpful in framing or re-framing the issues, monitoring for good listening skills, and helping all family members discover and remove the blocks to effective conversations.   Vol. 5, No. 4 © ElderWise Publishing 2009. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE...

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Long Distance Caregiving

Posted by on Sep 7, 2010 in Caregiving | 0 comments

Many families are faced with the unique issues of long distance caregiving. The ordinary challenges of helping and caring for aging parents can multiply when you live thousands of miles away or even overseas. Val moved to Canada from England 16 years ago. She became a daughter whose parents lived “across the pond.”  Having made many trips to Britain, Val shared with us some tips that she has learned over the years. Here are the biggest challenges she experienced: Understanding what is going on – and encouraging family at home to be open and honest about the current situation. Getting family to realize that keeping secrets may not be a kindness. It is so important to let those who are away know what is going on. You have to live with consequences of your actions and inaction: e.g., do I get on a plane immediately or wait and see what happens? Communicating well is essential. The value of a local contact – either family or neighbours or good friends. You need to be specific about how they can be helpful to you.  Here are more suggestions from Val: Long-distance caregivers often feel guilty. Guilt wastes time and energy, and doesn’t help anyone. Try these ideas for taking action instead: 1. Help each other. Your friend or family member may not tell you about health issues or challenges because they don’t want to worry you. Explain that you’ll worry more if they’re not honest with you. Reassure them that your aim is not to interfere, but to support them the best way you can. Ask for their ideas on how you can help. 2. Get the facts. You may ask someone living nearby to contact you when they feel the senior has a health or safety issue. Ask questions to determine exactly what is happening.  “Your mom’s memory’s gone”, is an alarming message. If it turns out that Mom wrote a reminder to feed the cat, you can then explore the reasons behind the change in behaviour. Contact ElderWise, health care organizations or seniors’ associations for advice. 3. Trust your local contact. Their concerns are usually genuine. If Dad seemed his usual self while you were visiting over the holidays, you may feel the person who lives nearby is exaggerating in their updates. This may not be the case – in particular, those with dementia will often appear more capable when visitors are around. 4. Don’t jump to conclusions. If your loved one complains about neglect, remember that people with Alzheimer’s disease have little short-term memory. They may forget they ate lunch, had a visitor, or went on an outing. If the senior has in-home care, or lives in a long term care home, try to build rapport with one or two staff members and ask when it’s best to get in touch for an update. Check the facts with caregivers before complaining! 5. Understand the reasons behind a decision. You may have concerns regarding a decision that affects the elderly person. Before you react, check why this decision was made. Those involved in day-to-day caregiving know the current situation, and usually have the senior’s best interests at heart. They will appreciate it if you reinforce any messages they’ve been giving. When Uncle Joe complains that he’s not allowed to drive his car, there’s probably a very good reason! Don’t talk him into finding the keys and going out anyway. Building trust and good relations with staff at the care home, or whoever is in a caregiving role, is key to ensuring your peace of mind as well as good care for your aging parent. Vol. 5, No. 2 © Val Carter and ElderWise Publishing...

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Sensitive Conversations

Posted by on Sep 7, 2010 in Family Relationships, Sensitive Conversations | 0 comments

Many of us have concerns about our parents’ health and well-being, or about their living arrangements. Our concern can lead to anxiety and frustration and we can be tempted to offer advice about “solutions” that seem obvious to us.  But our parents won’t welcome unsolicited advice any more than we did when they offered it to us. Successful conversations depend on two things: the kind of relationship you have with your parents and the nature of the conversation. If you have always been the “wonderful daughter”, you might be able to influence your parents. But if you have had a history of arguments over the years, this pattern will likely continue if you approach your conversation in the usual way.  Many topics are also touchy: For example, money. Many older adults are uncomfortable or even refuse to talk about it. Also, they might find it easier to talk about physical health than emotional well-being.  Is there a sensitive conversation in your future? Consider these approaches: Put aside your own agenda. First try to understand your parents’ needs, their fears, and their hopes. Ask your parents for their thoughts first, before presenting your concerns and suggestions Write them a note. This way, your parents will not feel broadsided when you unexpectedly bring up the topic. If you can’t broach a sensitive subject, get help from a trusted friend, relative, or other objective third party (e.g., a medical professional, family coach or counsellor). Keep your worry and feelings of responsibility in perspective. Parents can and may refuse even the best advice   Here are some more listening and communication tips for more effective family discussions. Listen actively to others. Give them feedback about their opinions. Ask them to confirm your understanding of what they are saying. Make sure that others also understand what you are saying (not the same thing as agreeing!). Suspend your own judgments when listening. Pay attention not only to what is being said, but also how it is said and what is NOT being said. Watch body language (facial expressions, posture, tone, gestures) that might add to the meaning of the message or contradict what a family member actually says. Show that you are paying attention: maintain eye contact, nod, respond. Remove barriers to listening – distractions, preoccupation, and self-talk. Ask open ended questions – those that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. Begin your question with “how” or what.” Good communication skills are crucial for sensitive conversations. They help create effective outcomes for sensitive conversations and positive relationships between the generations.   Vol. 3 , No. 15 © ElderWise Inc. 2007. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Publishing, a division of ElderWise Inc. We provide clear, concise and practical direction to Canadians with aging parents. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter...

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When Aging Parents Won’t Accept Help

Posted by on Sep 7, 2010 in Family Relationships, Sensitive Conversations | 0 comments

Even families who have good relationships with each other face challenges and uncertainty when the needs of aging parents change. One of the common issues is aging parents who appear to refuse help. It causes frustration in adult children and anxiety in the aging parent. An impasse can easily result. Several new dynamics emerge. You become aware of your own emotions – worry, sadness, anger. If you have siblings, you wonder what roles each of you will play to support each other and your parents. You may feel anxious because family relationships have been strained in the past.   Most families face one or more of four common challenges:  WHAT IF MY PARENTS WON’T ACCEPT MY HELP? Initial discussions can be difficult, especially if your parents do not see the need for help, or are unwilling to accept help because they don’t want to be a burden.  People need to feel that their relationships are two-way. If you can find ways to show your parents that they are giving you something in return for your assistance, they may be more inclined to accept your help. Your parents may worry that getting help means a loss of independence. Try to discuss this topic when it is a “future possibility.” Ask your parents how they want to handle future needs for support. You may need to obtain more information about services available in your parent’s community so that your parent is making an informed choice.  Some people refuse help because of mental or emotional problems or disorders. If your parent has addictions to alcohol or drugs, he/she may not willingly accept your advice. If your parent has a long-standing mental health disorder, they may rebuke advice for treatment. If you are caught in one of these distressing situations, you might find help by accessing a local seniors’ centre, local health organizations, or professional counseling. It’s important to involve others in these discussions. When someone else notes the need for help and confirms what you have been saying, your parents may be more inclined to agree. They may listen more closely to their peers or prefer to have friends help out rather than ask you to do so. Ultimately, you must respect a parent’s decision even if you do not agree with it. Unless there is a major risk to others, or your parent is not competent to make decisions because of a medical diagnosis, your parent has the right to choose. Adapted from: Your Aging Parents (2ed.), p.62 These situations have the potential to push a family further apart, but they can also bring it closer together. Managing our own feelings and reactions, respecting and accepting other viewpoints, and communicating effectively are the keys to surviving these challenges.   Vol. 6, No. 3, © ElderWise Publishing 2010. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE...

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