How to Help When Your Parents Lose a Life Partner


Lonely old man staring out of a windowIf your parent loses a mate, spouse or life partner, he or she may need a good deal of emotional and practical support. If you are close to your parent’s mate you may need support too. Family members, friends, neighbors and even grief groups are all good places to turn to for comfort during this time. Here are some tasks and decisions you may need to help your parent face.

Dealing with Property
In some circumstances, your parent will have to act as executor in dealing with their mate’s estate and there may be a lot to do. You may need to help with such things as sorting through their records for a will or collecting insurance and other benefits. Take it one step at time and know that there are always resources to help you and your parent out. Continue Reading How to Help When Your Parents Lose a Life Partner

Fall Fun for Elder Care Givers

Blaze a trail to your financial future!

Summer has come to a close and fall is right around the corner! Fall is a great season for family activities and elder care givers should get their parents involved as well. Here is a list of senior-friendly fall activities that elders and their care givers will enjoy.

Apple Picking- Walking or wheeling through an orchid gathering crisp, sweet apples is a great way to bond and enjoy the weather on a cool autumn day. You can even take the apples home and enjoy baking warm apple pie with the apples you both handpicked!

Canning the Last of the Summer Fruits and Veggies- Gather the remaining fruits and vegetables and preserve them to enjoy until next year. You can create jam, jellies or pie fillings out of the last of your peaches and berries. Continue Reading Fall Fun for Elder Care Givers

The Basics of Guardianship

Guardianship is a legal tool that grants a parent or other adult the authority to make legal decisions for a child or legally disabled adult.

There are different types of guardianship:

  • Guardianship of Estate – where the guardian is responsible for financial and estate matters only
  • Guardianship of Person –  where the guardian is responsible for non-financial decision making
  • Plenary Guardianship of Person and Estate – which entails full guardianship of person and estate

Each type of guardianship can also be in the form of limited guardianship which means the court can choose to let an incapacitated person retain any rights he/she is capable of exercising on his/her own. There is also something called co-guardianship which can be of person, estate or both when two people share the decision making responsibility equally. Continue Reading The Basics of Guardianship

Retirement Planning


No matter your age, there are certain things that you need to do to prepare financially for retirement. The earlier you start, the better off you will be.

  1. Save!
    It is recommended that you put aside at least 10 to 15 percent of your annual income. You should put more away if you are closer to retirement and haven’t put much aside yet.
  2. Create an Emergency Fund
    Creating an emergency fund will insure that you will have some money to help you out if a situation arises where you lose your regular source of income. It should have enough money to last you three to six months. It is for emergencies only, so a purchase of a new flat screen TV doesn’t qualify.
  3. Pay Down Debt
    If you are struggling with debt, there is a technique by Dave Ramsey called the “Debt Snowball.” List your debts from lowest to highest. Pay the minimum balance on all of your debts, except the smallest, and pay down the smallest debt fast. Once your smallest debt is gone, move onto the next lowest debt and work on getting that paid. Continue this process until all debt is gone. Continue Reading Retirement Planning

What do you know about Elder and Special Needs Law?

In order to eliminate problems and excess administrative work for your children and heirs, a bit of planning on your part is helpful. Choose now what you want to do with your assets and create a will, get help with legal agreements, living wills, trusts, etc. In order to do this, you may want to consult an elder law attorney. If you have children with disabilities and you are worried about their care after you are gone, an attorney practicing Special Needs Planning would be a wise choice.

Legal issues that affect people as they age and people with special needs are growing. Our laws are becoming more complex, and each state has different laws. Actions taken with regard to a single matter may have unintended legal effects. It is important that lawyers working with seniors, people with special needs, and their families, have a thorough understanding of the laws that may have an impact on a given situation to avoid future problems. Elder Law and Special Needs Planning encompass many different fields of law. Here are some samples:

Continue Reading What do you know about Elder and Special Needs Law?

Rutgers Study: Flowers Boost Seniors’ Well Being

Monarch Butterfly on Butterfly BushWe often talk about the legal forms and agreements we need to have. We discuss long term care insurance and how to make sure we are taken care of (or take care of ourselves) as we age. This time I’d like to talk about something else. Today let’s talk about flowers.

Everyone likes them.  Every woman wants them. Most men don’t mind buying them for their wives, girlfriends, etc.  On Saturday as we walked through the Philadelphia Flower Show I noted the many seniors and mature adults at the event.  Wheelchairs and walkers didn’t stop them from attending to see the magnificent floral displays. This year’s British theme, BRILLIANT!,  included displays of Big Ben, a monument garden with fountains and a gently moving statue (mime) as part of the imaginative display.  Perhaps the show attracted these seniors because they love gardening. Perhaps they just wanted to get out of their homes for a change of atmosphere.  Perhaps it was because even as we age, we remember the happy occasions when flowers were a part of our life celebrations or marked special moments with a loved one. Receiving flowers elicits fond memories for most of us. Perhaps it is simply that flowers make us happy, much like balloons and ice cream and parties. No matter how young or old we are, most of us love flowers.

Continue Reading Rutgers Study: Flowers Boost Seniors’ Well Being

Live With Family or Elsewhere


A recent article in U.S. News & World Report dealt with multi-generational households. While having older parents live with adult children or other relatives is not new, the recession has lead to an increase in multi-generational households. In 2008, there were 6.2 million multi-generational households. In 2010 that number went up to 7.1 million households. So, in other words, lots of people are occupying spare bedrooms.

While sharing space is a great way to reduce expenses and care for loved ones as they get older, it isn’t for everyone or every situation. There are some things to consider before different generations decided to share one roof.

Lifestyle Differences

Early birds vs. sleep till noon.  Dinner is homemade and on the table at 6:00 p.m. sharp vs. Tuesday is Chinese Takeout Night. While the differences between the generation that fought in World War II and their Baby Boomer children have been mined for laughs on countless sitcoms, actually negotiating these differences is another story.  Is it possible to work something out regarding meal times, living space, having guests over, etc?

Children in the House

If your adult child has a child, can you deal with childhood in the 21st century, with its regimented activities and numerous electronic games? Would you be willing to help with childcare, such as taking the child to and from school and helping with homework?

Who is Going to Pay for What?

While most seniors don’t have to pay rent when they move into an adult child’s home, an extra person means added utility and food costs. Who is going to pay for those expenses or are you willing to do service in lieu of fees? Also, there is healthcare to consider, since Medicare doesn’t pay for everything. Do you have supplemental insurance or has your adult child agreed to pay for whatever expenses Medicare doesn’t pay for?

Relationship with Adult Children

It is not just the practical aspects of living in someone else’s home that a person needs to think about, it is the emotional aspect that needs to be considered, as well. Many times the relationship between parents and adult children are strained. Can you put aside past differences and make the best of the situation?  Also, you have to consider the relationship you have with your child’s spouse.  Many times that relationship is strained to begin with.  Imagine how much worse it can become living together under the same roof.

The above items highlight the need to work out a plan before packing up your things and moving to a son or daughter’s home. Yes, there are times when circumstances intervene, such as a sudden medical issue like a heart attack or broken hip, and it is not possible to plan ahead. Still, where planning ahead is possible, it is best to do so.

Working together to come up with a living arrangement that all of you can be comfortable with will go a long way in preventing any problems that come up when different generations live under the same roof. Of course, if you and your adult child can’t come up with a living arrangement that works for all parties concerned, then it is best to find other arrangements. Just because someone is your child, doesn’t mean that his or her home is the best place for you to live during your retirement years.