DEAR ABBY: "Afraid for the Future in San Antonio, Texas" expressed concerns about having to provide care for her aging parents and in-laws. While the sentiments you conveyed were true, your answer didn't go far enough.
"Afraid's" concerns are legitimate. While ill and elderly parents may die quickly, it's also entirely possible that they won't. People are living longer and prolonging life by any means, so the problem of long-term care and the financial and emotional burdens placed on adult children are very real.
"Afraid" and her husband need to have an honest conversation with both sets of parents about the level of help they are willing to offer. They should also research resources with their state's Department on Aging and check into supportive living facilities that accept Medicare. The preparation they do in advance will go a long way toward making their parents' elder years easier for everyone.
- Laura in Montgomery, Ill.
DEAR LAURA: You're right. Crossing one's fingers and thinking positive does not go far enough. Thank you for offering a pragmatic approach to "Afraid's" dilemma. You were among many readers who shared helpful experiences and resources. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I found a lovely assisted living facility for my parents when they were unable to care for themselves. They had a private one-bedroom apartment, and Medicaid paid for most of it. The facility had medical aides and a nurse, social activities, three meals a day plus snacks if they wished, with transportation included.
After Dad died in 2007, Mom stayed on, surrounded by friends her own age. She keeps busy with life enrichment activities. "Afraid" should check with her state's senior services for help.
- Gail in Ashland, Ore.
DEAR ABBY: It is never too late to prepare for the future. That young couple should INSIST their parents see an elder care attorney NOW. This is a serious issue, and they should not risk the future of their marriage or children because their parents were selfish or ignorant. Everyone will be better off if they make an effort to educate themselves and their parents today.
- Burdened Daughter
DEAR ABBY: A more proactive response would have been to encourage "Afraid" to seek information on nursing and elder care options, including free-care funds through larger nursing centers. Then she and her husband should discuss their concerns, rather than ignore them. They may find greater peace once they know all the options.
- Trying to Help in Pennsylvania
DEAR ABBY: All parties need to sit down and have a frank discussion about what the financial expectations are and what will happen if their money runs out. "Afraid" and her husband should have their parents speak to a financial adviser, who can give them a realistic picture of what their life will be like unless they make provisions now. If they cannot have their parents move in with them, that fact needs to be clearly stated.
- Colleen in Pittsburgh
DEAR ABBY: My paternal grandmother lived with us while I was growing up. There were annoyances, of course, but it seemed totally natural to me. Grandma helped with us kids, making dinner and doing laundry. She always had time to read to us or do jigsaw puzzles.
When my husband's grandmother was no longer able to live on her own, she moved in with us until she passed. It was from her that I learned how to knit and how to make a pie crust from scratch. It was the most wonderful experience knowing she was happy in life. The wisdom, love and care we received from her shaped our lives.