Gift of Communication Gift of Communication Gift of Communication Gift of Communication Gift of Communication

    Posts By :

    Bob Mauterstock

    Preparing Yourself For The Family Meeting

    Once you have created an agenda for the Family Meeting and discussed it with your parents and their trusted adviser, you are ready to have the meeting. Although it seems like a very difficult and perhaps impossible task, I assure you that once the Family Meeting occurs, everyone in the family will be thankful. For many families, issues like finances and death have carefully been avoided at family gatherings for years. But it is on everyone’s mind. It’s like the big white elephant that sits in the middle of the room that everyone tries to avoid but cannot overlook.

    Once communication has opened up, a burden has been lifted from the family. There is a lightness and freedom to discuss topics that were left unsaid for a long time. Future family gatherings will be less stressful because doubt has been removed and everyone knows where he or she stands. Your parents will experience much more comfort and less anxiety facing the problems of growing old knowing now that the family is working with them.

    You may find that one or two family members will try to undermine the meeting, using the excuse that it will upset your parents or will uncover old issues that shouldn’t be discussed. But don’t let them deter you. Consider the alternative. Do you want to keep everyone in the dark until after your parents have passed away and then deal with everything in a crisis mode? Or do you want to discuss things rationally and clearly with your parents and siblings so that everyone is included? The choice is yours.

    But if one of your siblings does not want to participate or warns you that an open conversation with your parents is dangerous, thank them for expressing their opinion, but do not be deterred from having the meeting. Encourage them to attend. Consider either audio or video recording the meeting and providing them with a copy. Get them involved in any way you can. You do not want them coming back to you five years after your parents have died and inferring that everything was done your way and they didn’t have any say. Don’t give them that weapon to use against you.

    Moving Mom to Assisted Living

    Four weeks ago my mom contracted a stomach virus and was sent to the hospital to recover. While she was there the Doctors discovered that she also had a urinary tract infection. After a week in the hospital she was sent to a nursing home for rehab. When I visited her there I noticed that her memory had deteriorated dramatically. She thought I was my Dad (who died 10 years ago) After three weeks in rehab. she had gained enough strength to return to her independent Living Retirement home. But we were told that she would need round the clock aides for a few weeks.

    A week has gone by now and it looks clearer that she will need extensive care for some time. Using aides from a service firm is costing her $400 a day. Her memory has improved somewhat but she is still confused and gets up several times during the night to see if the door is locked and to go to the bathroom. We cannot continue to pay for private aides because it will end up costing $12,000 a month.

    Unfortunately we live 3 hours away from Mom’s home. We have decided we have to find a facility closer to us, possibly an assisted living facility that helps those who are memory impaired. The most difficult step now is to convince her to make that move. She has a number of friends in her community. But the real question is will she miss those people? Will another move cause her fragile memory to deteriorate even more? Do we need to tell her what to do or get her approval.?

    We are meeting with her doctor on Friday. Out of that meeting we may convince her that the doctor recommends that she move close to us. I am very anxious about telling her she’s got to move. I don’t know how she will respond and what the result will be. I know one thing. The current situation cannot go on for very long or her assets will disappear and she will have no choices.

    Moving a Mom with Alzheimer’s

    When my mom was alive, she had a short stay in a local hospital. She returned from that hospital visit with a virus that caused her to begin to deteriorate. She had contracted a urinary tract infection while there and it dramatically affected her memory.

    We began ’round the clock aides and continued that for almost a month. The changing of aides every twelve hours confused her even more. She forgot when they were coming and what their names were. And it was costing us over $12,000 per month. So we made a critical decision. We decided to move her to an Assisted Living Facility close to our home on Cape Cod that specialized in working with memory-impaired residents. We were very concerned that she would resist the move.

    My wife picked her up and told her she would be staying at the facility until she got her strength back. A week before the move, we met with the Executive Director, discussed the transition and selected her room. The Director told us that she might have some difficulties in the first few weeks but that resistance would be shortlived.

    Sure enough, when she arrived she began telling the staff that she wanted to go home. The first week was very painful. We wondered if we had made a terrible mistake. But with the persistence of the staff and our reassurances, she adapted to the new setting after a few weeks. Now she is very happy with her new friends and is only twenty minutes from our home (instead of 3 hours).

    Making decisions for your parents can sometimes seem awkward and difficult, but many times it has to be done. It is very uncomfortable to experience a reversal of roles and become the parent of your parent. But in our case, my Mom would have continued to deteriorate in her previous setting. As my wife and I reflect back upon this decision, we are certain that it was the right one.  We know she is in good hands and is the right home for herself and her family.

    ======================

    PERMISSION TO REPRINT:
    =======================
    Financial Advisors may reprint any articles from The Gift of Communication Blog in your own print or electronic newsletter. But please include the following paragraph:

    Reprinted from Bob Mauterstock’s The Gift of Communication Blog. Subscribe at http://www.GiftofCommunication.com  and receive Bob’s Family Meeting Checklist Guide.

    Elder Abuse

    Many elderly people rely entirely on family or other trusted individuals to help them. Whether it is for physical needs or emotional needs, as people grow older they tend to need more and more help from others. This dependence on caregivers or family members makes an older person more vulnerable to abuse.

    For example, an older person relying on her children to provide meals and transportation and help her with financial decisions finds it difficult to complain when one of her children takes advantage of her. If for instance, the child takes her money, hits her or neglects her care, the parent may be threatened with loss of support from the child if the parent complains. The child may also use threats of violence to keep the parent in line.

    It is estimated that 5% to 10% of elderly Americans are suffering abuse. Much attention has been focused on abuse in nursing homes, but most of the elder abuse in this country is at the hands of family members or other caregivers in the home.

    Signs of Abuse:

    • Unexplained bruises, welts, fractures, abrasions or lacerations
    • Multiple bruises in various stages of healing
    • Multiple/repeat injuries
    • Low self-esteem or loss of self-determination
    • Withdrawn, passive
    • Fearful
    • Depressed, hopeless
    • Soiled linen or clothing
    • Social Isolation

    All states have agencies that receive complaints of abuse. In some states failure to report abuse of the elderly is a crime. To contact an abuse complaint department, call your local area agency on aging. To find an area agency on aging in your area, visit http://www.longtermcarelink.net/eldercare/ref_state_aging_services.htm

    ======================

    PERMISSION TO REPRINT:
    =======================
    Financial Advisors may reprint any articles from The Gift of Communication Blog in your own print or electronic newsletter. But please include the following paragraph:

    Reprinted from Bob Mauterstock’s The Gift of Communication Blog. Subscribe at http://www.GiftofCommunication.com  and receive Bob’s Family Meeting Checklist Guide.

    Solve Family Disputes with Elder Mediation

    Mediation is the process of bringing two or more parties together who are seeking to resolve a conflict. The mediator’s role is to facilitate communication between the parties and help them discover a solution. The mediator’s job is not to solve the problem or impose a solution.  The process is completely voluntary, and any of the parties can withdraw at any time.

    Mediation can be very helpful in dealing with issues that adult children and their elderly parents face every day. Is it time for the parents to sell their home and move into an assisted living facility? Which child should provide care if a parent wants to stay in their home? How much care does a parent need? Is there disagreement among siblings as to what to do?

    A good mediator will not place blame or responsibility on any one party in the mediation. Through a process of asking questions and soliciting discussion, the mediator will help the parties come up with a solution that works for them. The mediation will not work unless all parties agree that the solution is appropriate.

    In the past, most mediation was done only by attorneys. A new field is developing now which allows professionals from other fields such as Geriatric Care Managers, Financial Planners, and Clinical Social Workers to become mediators. Each state has specific requirements for individuals to be classified as mediators. Check with your local senior center, council on aging or the Internet to find mediators in your area.

    ======================

    PERMISSION TO REPRINT:
    =======================
    Financial Advisors may reprint any articles from The Gift of Communication Blog in your own print or electronic newsletter. But please include the following paragraph:

    Reprinted from Bob Mauterstock’s The Gift of Communication Blog. Subscribe at http://www.GiftofCommunication.com  and receive Bob’s Family Meeting Checklist Guide.