It has amazed me for more than 30 years as a professional in the field of aging how many people delay or totally ignore any kind of planning for the realities of aging- be these realities physical, emotional or financial.
One can assume that the difficulties in facing this chapter of life when health and independence diminish and the denial that accompanies these realities may be the main reason for this avoidance.
That is why most calls, by the time they reach me or my colleagues, is done in crisis mode.
Other explanations that may shed light as to why this lack of planning occurs – in addition to denial – is that family supporters may live long distances and not pick up on the nuances of deterioration, spouses may frequently “cover” for one another, or the family “rules” do not lend themselves to have an open or frank discussion about elder care planning.
Or, it may simply be that there is a history of tension or “old baggage” that may keep a child from wanting to assist parents by whom they felt let down.
It is then both the challenge and obligation of professionals across the continuum of care to be aware and informed so as to guide families in crisis about the various options and services that are available. We must continue to provide community education and service awareness opportunities to a group of people who are so desperately in need of this information- often in a crisis.
We must also be creative in ways to entice participation in eldercare planning. Perhaps, Baby Boomers will become better planners for themselves!
I am certain that the use of webinars and other online information and assistance will become more the norm as time goes on because access is 24/7 and can be done in the privacy of one’s own home.
For me though, the sound of a caring professional on the other end of a phone, or a community program that gives participants a chance to share ideas and concerns, is still the most meaningful way of providing information and support.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if the information is gotten online, via the telephone, or in person. Linking decision makers to information and services still remains one of the biggest challenges of professionals.
~ Candy Blau