6 Must-Have Conversations When Caring for Elderly Parents

converse old and youngOne of the more painful memories in my life was telling my father that he was no longer capable of driving or living alone. A tall, physically active man, Dad had worked since his teens in the Great Depression, fought in World War II, married and raised two boys to manhood, and dealt with the death of his spouse, burying his wife of more than 50 years. He was a proud man, always ready to help others and capable of handling life’s setbacks with equal measures of grit and grace. To him, being a man meant being able to take care of yourself.
 
Over the previous decade, I had watched his physical and mental faculties gradually fade. The decline was slower in the beginning, but reached a faster pace as he approached 80 years of age. After a minor car accident in which he had turned into the path of an approaching vehicle, the attending policeman called me aside and insisted that I take away his keys.
 
As the eldest son and his only living relative within the state, the responsibility of care fell to me. I struggled with the irony of our situation, the reversal of natural roles where parent directs child. Despite my trepidation, however, taking away his car keys was for his own safety and others on the road – a loving child has no good alternative in that position.

Aging and Its Consequences

While everyone ages at a different pace, the consequences are inevitable for everyone. As you grow older, you are likely to experience some or all of the following physical and mental changes:

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Medicaid – How It Works

old man hospital bedMany health officials believe that Medicaid is the glue that helps to hold our healthcare system together, taking on the highest-risk, sickest, and most expensive populations that cannot qualify for outside private insurance or Medicare. It is America’s ultimate safety net. Unfortunately, it is also extremely costly: Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare – the “big three” entitlement programs – accounted for 44% of the federal budget in 2012, according to The Heritage Foundation, and collectively consumed more than $2 trillion of services, with total revenues of $2.4 trillion.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Federal Government spent $275 billion in 2011 for Medicaid, covering on an average month 54 million Americans. Medicaid expenditures including federal funds is the largest government expenditure in each of the 50 states. Considering only state funds, Medicaid expenses trail only primary and secondary education expenses in state budgets.

Without fundamental change, our social welfare programs (including Medicaid) will ultimately bankrupt the country or drive taxes to unsustainable levels. A distinct possibility is that millions of poor Americans – the elderly, disabled, and children – will face a future without adequate healthcare or long-term nursing care.

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