The emotions are rising from the immediate families of The Washington Home on Upton Street and Connecticut Avenue, N.W. in the District of Columbia, Washington D.C. The fact is this story is being more relevant to our elders in major cities across America. For now let's start from ground zero and think about what caregivers and families must consider for their loved ones. The politicians and leaders in our communities must and should also take responsibility for the elders who have supported and voted for them for most of their 50 to 60 years of voting year after year.
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Wanda Fisher, Aging in Place Advocate for CVA and 55 plus communities
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What to Know By: Age 50
You may already be involved in caregiving for a spouse or parent. We want to provide care out of love and loyalty, but practical matters arise quickly and come to the fore.
You’ve probably heard about what caregiving costs and pondered whether you will need to or be able to help your parents financially. Here are a few more things you may want to know about caregiving by the time you are 50.
1. Have the difficult conversations. How do your parents want to live as they become more frail, and what plan do they have to make that happen? Finding out is key to your ability to help them.
2. Get involved. Advocate for your parents and work for changes you want to see. For instance, would a change in social policy allow for a better nursing home experience for your mom or dad? Should workplaces better support caregivers?
3. Provide support. Know how much care costs, and also consider other kinds of support. Think about housing, emotional support and companionship.
What you should know by: Age 60
1. Consider new ways of living. Knowing what your parents went through can provide motivation for planning ahead for how you want to live, whether that’s aging in place or finding like-minded people with whom to form a community.
2. Care for yourself. Caregivers need support, too. It’s critical to find ways to take breaks and rejuvenate, especially in situations where you’ve been a caregiver for a long period of time.
3. Be protective. Elder fraud and abuse is on the rise. Educate yourself about what could happen and keep a watchful eye out for problems.
What you should know by the: Age 70
1. Have another conversation. This time, with your own children or those who will provide care for you in your older years. Think of the relief you felt when your parents expressed their wishes. Give that gift to your children.
2. Learn from elders. The number of centenarians is growing, and if your parents are among them, take lessons from the longest-lived among us.
3. Use your resources. Find support to ensure your parents have dignity and independence. Use what you’ve learned from caring for them as you make choices about your own situation in the coming decades.
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Liza Kaufman Hogan, Senior Editor, NextAvenue.org