Taking Charge

By Doug Mayberry

January 15, 2018 4 min read

Q: My mom passed away three years ago, and my dad sadly looks to be on the decline. He lives alone at home and has had several minor illnesses.

After recognizing his health problems, he's asking my husband and I to make the decisions for his health care. Unfortunately, we both work full time and have two busy teenagers. We aren't able to see him as often as I'd like.

How can we make the best decisions for him?

A: First, you need to get a written assessment of your dad's current physical condition from his doctor. Your dad may have incorrect or outdated information, or just be embarrassed to share some details.

Based on what you learn, look at his needs. Does he require part- or full-time supervision, meal preparation or bathing assistance?

Next, do some research on your options. What can you afford? Does he have a long-term health care policy? Does he have equity in his house, which could be sold to cover the essentials? Does he receive retirement income, Social Security or investment income?

You can't make any decisions before collecting all your information. Be aware that every option comes with different positives and negatives. For instance, in-home care comes with legal responsibilities, IRS payroll taxes and the possibility of accidents, theft, senior abuse and other issues.

Professional health care is available, but you will still need to stay involved with the process.

Is it an option to move your dad to live closer to you? If so, investigate some local resources. Ask around, and look for advice from others familiar with the process. Visit a close senior center and find what services it provides.

In any case, you are very fortunate to have a cooperative parent who will listen to your advice — we are not all so lucky.

Your dad trusts your judgment! — Doug


Q: I have offered to contribute to my grandson's college education, and he is due to hear back from his choice of schools within the next few months.

That said, I'm not certain that he appreciates my help as much as I thought he would. I had to help myself through college, as my family was not well-off.

How do I know whether my financial sacrifice is worth it to him?

A: The best way your grandson can show his gratitude is to take full advantage of his opportunity.

It is always difficult for us to appreciate opportunities in the moment — that sense of awareness generally comes with time. With any luck, you'll still be around when he's matured a little more.

As your grandson hasn't had the same experiences in life that you have, it's impossible for him to look at things with the same perspective. You also have probably reshaped your opinions on the past throughout your lifetime.

However, if you feel like you're being taken for granted or taken advantage of, you can always withdraw your support in the future.

All that said, it's reasonable for you to expect at least a thank-you note and a hug for your trouble!

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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