The 85-and-over United States population, the fastest-growing age group in the country, is projected to rise from 5.8 million today to 19 million in 2050. People are living longer and dying gradually rather than suddenly. Best-selling author Atul Gawande writes in his book "Being Mortal" that today's aging population tends to "wear down and die in slow motion."
An American who reaches age 65 can expect to live, on average, another 18.5 years (16.8 for men, 19.8 for women). Seventy percent of this group will need some long term care before they die. One out of five will need it for more than five years.
Yet, if most families are honest, they don't have a clue what to do when their parents finally need help. They don’t know what preparations, if any, their parents have made for their future care. They may not even know the names of their parents’ physicians, friends, or neighbors.
The time to prepare is before there is a crisis.
Part of that preparation is to educate yourself about your parents’ future wishes and the categories of resources available and what they cost in dollars and time.
You can start the process with a family meeting. Create an agenda. Start out with modest fact finding goals.
If you live in different cities you may be able to conference online with tools like SKYPE or ZOOM.
If you need help, you can hire an Elder Mediator to host your meeting.
As families age, the dynamics often become more complicated and entrenched, especially for siblings. Old conflicts can make collaboration and communication difficult. Geographic distance, differing economic means and concerns for immediate families can add to the challenges. Coming together for family decision-making can seem overwhelming. A mediator is a neutral, who can facilitate solutions that will work for the family as a whole.
Hopefully some of the sites I have authored will be a starting point:
Richard H. Schwachter, JD has been a practicing attorney for over 40 years and an Elder Mediator for over 10 years. He has had advance Elder Mediation training at Pepperdine University School of Law, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution and hands on experience as a resident Elder Advocate Ombudsman for San Mateo County, CA. He is a licensed Certified Civil Circuit Mediator in Florida and a listed ADR provider in the Santa Clara Superior Court, California. He is a graduate of Case Western Reserve Law School and the University of Wisconsin. He is an author an artist and a proud grandfather of five. He was sole caregiver for both his parents.