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Planning A Future Together

By Cheryl Ellis, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 3)

Elderly parents can often feel pressure if you “make a date” to discuss planning.  Annette F. has found that each conversation can add pieces to the “what to do” puzzle.  However, when her father is approached with specifics, he becomes resistant to discussion.  You may find the same thing happening, and this is where turning the situation to your eventual needs can break the ice.  The time to have the puzzle completed isn’t at the last minute, when social services must be called to make arrangements.
Banking centers vary in their ability to guide an individual beyond the eventual “In Trust For” designations on account.  Private banks that focus on developing close relationships with depositors may have more programs available.  No one wants to lose control over their financial resources, and a discussion of escrow accounts, eldercare and investment options provide useful alternatives.
Keep the talks short, informative, and offhand.  “I was thinking about this as a plan in case I have any problems” is a great opener, especially when followed by “What do you think?”  Letting a family member help you decide about your future needs shows them you trust their decisions and advice, too.  After some discussion about your needs, ask “What do you want to do?”  It’s possible you’ll get some evasion, but gently persisting at this interval might make a difference.
A caregiver’s world is sometimes closed off to interactions with others.  Unless you are in a support group, you may not have friends who have been down this road.  The ability to bring up a situation that a social acquaintance has experienced with planning may not be available.  It’s not totally closed off, however.  There are articles in the paper and magazines that point out situations people have experienced when they plan with positive intent. 
Instead of focusing on the negative things that can happen when planning isn’t done with timely direction, bring your attention to what can happen.  “You know, if we took care of planning our care needs right now, we’d have a few extra dollars by the end of the year to take that trip” is positively focused.  It allows your loved one to address the issue as mutual (“our”), gives them an ability to decide with you, and most importantly, offers a future option for a welcome event. 
We all have a fear of naming our illnesses and problems.  Some lawyers still haven’t made funeral arrangements, even though they encourage their clients to do so before family must do it for them.  This is all part of being human and the hidden superstitions we carry about the Murphy’s Law of mentioning something negative, and it happening right after.

In spite of mortality statistics for given diseases, as caregivers, we may be the ones who fall ill first.  Blindsided by your own problems, there is a need for you to think of yourself, too.


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