Posts by Mara

Talking About Finances

Posted by on Apr 14, 2013 in Financial and Tax Matters, Power of Attorney | 0 comments

Many families experience problems with financial discussions – and therefore avoid them. The older generation may avoid discussions with adult children out of fear of losing privacy and control. Adult children may wish to respect a parent’s privacy but they wonder – not only about a parent’s well-being, but also whether a parent’s finances could affect their own retirement plans. In other families, money is a taboo subject or one that simply brings up too many negative emotions.  Why do adult children need to talk about money with their aging parents? First, knowing a parent’s situation can help adult children plan their own financial future. Second, being aware is especially important if an adult child has been appointed financial power of attorney for their parent. Third, a trusted adult child can stay alert and offer support when an older person’s health issues make dealing with finances more demanding.  As we get older, dealing with chronic health problems, pain, medication side effects, and vision loss are among our physical challenges. There are mental and emotional challenges, too. They can include increased anxiety and depression, as well life changes, such as losing a spouse (who may have been responsible for finances). All these factors can make dealing with money matters more challenging.   Here are some early signs that finances are getting more challenging, either for loved ones or for ourselves:   Trouble balancing bank statements Unpaid bills, notices or statements stacking up Penalties for late payment or services and utilities being cut off Trouble reading fine print or understanding financial notices More stress about paying bills and looking after finances Changed spending patterns or behaviour So where can we start if we have concerns? Here are some strategies for adult children that can help open doors with this sensitive subject.   Assist with minor, routine tasks. For example, suggest automatic debits for recurring bills or help introduce someone to on-line banking. This can give you some insight into someone’s finances. Once bigger issues or tasks arise later, working in tandem won’t seem such a drastic change.   Ask for their insights. If someone seems financially aware and is an active investor, start a conversation about investments to get a sense of their approach. Alternately, set the stage by asking about older persons’ insights from experiences such as the Great Depression or other financial setbacks. In the process, personal values can be uncovered, and that can create greater trust and open doors for deeper discussion.   Ask them to help give you peace of mind. Let your parents know you’ve been concerned and that you would feel better if you knew more about their plans. Point out that you could be the “go to” person who will need information in a crisis. If you have read or know of a case where a family was financially unprepared, sharing their story can provide food for thought.   Once trust is established, ask to participate in financial planning. It’s no secret that investment options today can be complex. Sound financial advice is more important than ever. If your parent uses an advisor, ask if you can come to a meeting with their advisor – as an observer. Notice whether your parents are following along and involved with the conversation. If they don’t have an advisor, encourage them to get appropriate financial advice.   When should we begin? Ideally, start conversations even before you notice warning signs. Because retirement planning and financial planning are closely tied, this is a good trigger event for starting a dialogue. Another milestone may be when parents turn 65 or 70; at...

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Stuck in the Middle: Retirement Planning

Posted by on Apr 9, 2013 in Financial and Tax Matters, Planning | 0 comments

Originally published at www.theglobeandmail.com on November 5, 2012.   “Many boomers are assisting parents financially or are losing income because of their eldercare obligations,” says Mara Osis, founder of ElderWise, an organization that provides information and coaching to help families caring for elderly loved ones. “They may turn down career opportunities or even retire early, if they feel it’s up to them to take on this responsibility and don’t see any other way of doing it.” Read the complete article:...

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Caring for Aging Parents: Are You Prepared?

Posted by on Apr 9, 2013 in Health Emergencies, Planning, Powers of Attorney | 0 comments

Originally published on June 24, 2011 at www.brighterlife.ca   When Iola Pryma was told she needed to have a lung biopsy to investigate the tumours a CT scan revealed, one of the first things she did was make her daughter, Kandis Pryma, her power of attorney for her finances. A 71-year-old widow, Pryma knew that in the event of a long recovery — or worse — she would feel much better checking into the hospital knowing that her finances were in order. This family was lucky. In their case, the parent was able to make this decision on her own and to guide her daughter through her financial portfolio and banking information without suspicion or embarrassment.  But many families aren’t so lucky, says Mara Osis, president of ElderWise, a Calgary-based company that coaches families on topics relating to aging parents.   Read the complete article:...

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Retirement: Families Planning Together

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in Planning | 0 comments

 Originally published May 2011 on www.lifespeak.ca Contribution by Mara Osis, eldercare consultant and speaker on LifeSpeak’s Calgary roster.If one or both of your parents is talking about “retirement”, they are using a term that is being re-defined so quickly and drastically that the word might actually soon disappear. For previous generations, mandatory retirement at 65 was not uncommon; nor was collecting a pension for 25 or more years of service. More recently, retirees were sold the “Freedom 55” concept – endless, carefree days of golf, travel and leisure. Today, because we are expected to live longer than previous generations, retirement is largely uncharted territory. Some older workers are financially secure, and looking forward to leaving the workforce. For others, career and financial upheavals have walloped retirement savings and even pensions. Still others are dreading retirement, fearing the loss of income, sense of purpose and social life that comes with the job. With more evidence that “inactive” retirement can lead to aggravation of health issues, those are real concerns. Today, more people are “getting” the message that they need to plan ahead for the transition. Involving the whole family can help. Whether you are nearing retirement age and wondering what’s next, or watching your parents as they plan ahead (or don’t), here are things for both generations to consider and discuss together. What will retirement look like? Who is retiring – one or both parents or marriage partners? Are your visions and expectations of retirement in sync with each other? If not, how will the gaps be closed? Many marriages undergo a period of adjustment, whether one or both spouses retire. Declining energy, mobility or health are behind some retirement decisions. Understanding the health issues and prognosis helps manage the present situation and plan for the future. If work is too demanding, health-wise, what activity or life focus will take its place? Often, retirees who embark on a “life of leisure” soon find it less than satisfying. The purpose and meaning that came with their careers evaporates; they might feel they’ve stopped contributing. Part-time, contract or volunteer work can be the solution for some. For others, it can be learning and exploring entirely new interests. Every retirement plan needs to answer the question: “How will this next chapter of my life be fulfilling, meaningful, and driven by my values?” How is the family affected? Retirement can change the family dynamic. For example, parents may want to retire to a warmer clime, thus affecting both regular and holiday family get-togethers. Some may want to move closer to adult children and/or take a more active role in grand-parenting. Others may actually crave fewer obligations, e.g., babysitting, and more time to pursue their own interests. How will each generation manage expectations and accept each others’ preferences and choices? A retirement transition is a good opportunity for families to take care of practical matters and look to the family’s future well-being. Here are three things families can discuss together: Caregiving: What kind of future support might the older adults need and even expect? Do your parents believe it’s a family’s obligation to care for its elders, or do they insist they won’t be a “burden” to their children? Whatever the attitudes, the reality is that people are living longer than ever; centenarians are a fast-growing cohort. What would you do today if you knew that your parents (or you) will live to be 100? Legal Documents: Major life changes are opportunities for all adults in the family to review and update wills. Properly prepared wills save families time, trouble and money. Many common life events can...

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Emergency Response…Or Crisis Mode?

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Health Emergencies | 0 comments

As family members age, it’s more and more likely that we’ll be faced with an “eldercare event” – a sudden, dramatic change in the status quo, usually related to health. Here are some common examples of what can happen: A frail older person, living alone, suffers a fall, a stroke, or a heart attack and is hospitalized. She must now leave the hospital but cannot safely live alone any more. A healthy spouse who cares for a frail senior dies suddenly. Family members are scattered throughout the country or live overseas. Your parent lives alone, several provinces away. Your last few phone conversations have seemed strange; your parent is rambling and, occasionally, incoherent. Your phone rings at work. The local hospital informs you that Dad has been admitted to the emergency department. We hope we will never have to deal with situations like these, but it’s unrealistic to believe either that it won’t happen to us or that “we’ll deal with it when something happens”. When eldercare events occur, it helps everyone if we respond and cope well. Otherwise, we may become part of the problem, not part of the solution. Here are four steps you can take to prevent an emergency turning into a crisis:  Acknowledge your emotions Even if you have thought about how you might deal with an elder care event, you cannot predict how you will feel when it happens. Elder care events can involve complex decisions, time pressures and the need to navigate unfamiliar situations and new relationships. Aim to reach a level of calm before responding to the news. Everyone can benefit from deep breathing and a few quiet minutes to wait for the adrenalin rush to subside. Change your self-talk if it’s making you more anxious. Self-talk can either increase your panic, or guide you to a more reasoned response. Tell yourself:  “I am calm and capable. I have handled other difficult situations and I will handle this one, too.” Remember the resources you have drawn on in the past to calm yourself and make reasoned decisions. Assemble your support team. Who might I ask to come and stay with me? Who can give me emotional support on the phone? Who else do I need to call to let them know what is happening? Who can I contact to help me figure out what the right thing is to do for someone else? Implement an Emergency Plan you have worked out in advance. Make a checklist. Some situations to consider: At home: Will you need someone to look after your children or anyone else at home that counts on your care? At work: Notify your supervisor. Ideally, you will have had a prior discussion that helps them prepare for this type of event. If you are at a distance from the event, who will you communicate with to monitor the situation? Will you need to travel? What will you take with you? What will you need if you may spend long hours in hospital? Can you pre-pack an emergency kit? What information and documents will you provide to help health care professionals?  Having a written plan, assembling your support team, and staying calm are important components of planning ahead for and managing an elder care event. © ElderWise Inc., 2013. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article,if you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc. We provide clear, concise and practical direction to Canadians with aging parents…and anyone wishing to do “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE...

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