How the Baby Boomers’ Barrister can help navigate the landscape of aging parents
Nine years ago, as a 53 year old Baby Boomer with elderly parents, I was faced, along with my siblings, with the challenge of determining the appropriate care for my parents. They claimed to not need any help at all, indeed they resisted, but should we yield to their wishes or should we step in? Should they still be driving? Should we do more to obtain treatment for our father’s depression? After our father passed away, was our mother capable of living alone? While we knew she had short-term memory problems, how much was our father doing to compensate for her limitations, and now that he was gone, did she need help? When she was forced to spend her last five months in a hospital, an assisted living facility, and finally, a nursing home, how would she pay for it? Fortunately, our parents were financially secure, but had they not been, what was our responsibility to support them? Could we afford to take care of them as well as support our own families, save for retirement, and send our kids to college? Would the state or federal government step in and pay for their support and medical bills? These are questions that nearly all of my contemporaries have dealt with, are now dealing with, or will deal with. Further, as the oldest of my generation has already turned 65, how are we going to handle these questions when we are the ones who need assistance?
The Baby Boomers’ Barrister can help discern the rights of the elderly and their responsibilities to care for themselves, children’s moral and ethical responsibilities to care for their parents, and the state’s responsibility to care for its elderly citizens. The elderly have a responsibility to plan for their own care and have a right to live as they wish until it can be determined that they need help; children have a responsibility to care for their parents and intervene in the least restrictive manner relative to their parents’ incapacities; and that the state should be prepared to provide a safety net when the parents and their children can no longer provide the necessary care. This alignment of responsibility will result in the rapidly growing elderly population being more physically, psychologically, and financially more secure and less of a burden on society.
It is important to make the succession of responsibility clear, so that people understand their duties if and when they are required to act. Ideally, an individual would provide for his own care during his lifetime and there would be no need to interfere in the lives of the elderly. This is sometimes not possible. The difficulty in initiating movement from the individual, to the child, to the state, in that order, is that the need for movement is not always clear; it occurs at different rates and varies in scope, depending on the circumstances. For instance, in one case a parent may need assistance, but refuse help because she is depressed and does not feel she is worth the trouble; or she may be unaware of her need for help or be too proud to accept it; or she may want help but not know how to ask for it. The children may want to help but are turned away, they may want to help but cannot afford to, or they may refuse to help. The state may not have the resources to respond to every case. The Baby Boomers’ Barrister can help you explore the possibilities and the difficulties in providing for the elderly. Baby Boomers’ Barrister will be happy to assist you with elder law St Petersburg.