Posts Tagged "family"

Retirement: Families Planning Together

Posted by on Apr 3, 2021 in Planning |

 Originally published May 2011 on Contribution by Mara Osis, eldercare consultant and speaker on LifeSpeak’s Calgary roster.If one or both of your parents is talking about “retirement”, they are using a term that is being re-defined so quickly and drastically that the word might actually soon disappear. For previous generations, mandatory retirement at 65 was not uncommon; nor was collecting a pension for 25 or more years of service. More recently, retirees were sold the “Freedom 55” concept – endless, carefree days of golf, travel and leisure. Today, because we are expected to live longer than previous generations, retirement is largely uncharted territory. Some older workers are financially secure, and looking forward to leaving the workforce. For others, career and financial upheavals have walloped retirement savings and even pensions. Still others are dreading retirement, fearing the loss of income, sense of purpose and social life that comes with the job. With more evidence that “inactive” retirement can lead to aggravation of health issues, those are real concerns. Today, more people are “getting” the message that they need to plan ahead for the transition. Involving the whole family can help. Whether you are nearing retirement age and wondering what’s next, or watching your parents as they plan ahead (or don’t), here are things for both generations to consider and discuss together. What will retirement look like? Who is retiring – one or both parents or marriage partners? Are your visions and expectations of retirement in sync with each other? If not, how will the gaps be closed? Many marriages undergo a period of adjustment, whether one or both spouses retire. Declining energy, mobility or health are behind some retirement decisions. Understanding the health issues and prognosis helps manage the present situation and plan for the future. If work is too demanding, health-wise, what activity or life focus will take its place? Often, retirees who embark on a “life of leisure” soon find it less than satisfying. The purpose and meaning that came with their careers evaporates; they might feel they’ve stopped contributing. Part-time, contract or volunteer work can be the solution for some. For others, it can be learning and exploring entirely new interests. Every retirement plan needs to answer the question: “How will this next chapter of my life be fulfilling, meaningful, and driven by my values?” How is the family affected? Retirement can change the family dynamic. For example, parents may want to retire to a warmer clime, thus affecting both regular and holiday family get-togethers. Some may want to move closer to adult children and/or take a more active role in grand-parenting. Others may actually crave fewer obligations, e.g., babysitting, and more time to pursue their own interests. How will each generation manage expectations and accept each others’ preferences and choices? A retirement transition is a good opportunity for families to take care of practical matters and look to the family’s future well-being. Here are three things families can discuss together: Caregiving: What kind of future support might the older adults need and even expect? Do your parents believe it’s a family’s obligation to care for its elders, or do they insist they won’t be a “burden” to their children? Whatever the attitudes, the reality is that people are living longer than ever; centenarians are a fast-growing cohort. What would you do today if you knew that your parents (or you) will live to be 100? Legal Documents: Major life changes are opportunities for all adults in the family to review and update wills. Properly prepared wills save families time, trouble and money. Many common life events can...

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The Vulture Generation

Posted by on Mar 1, 2021 in Power of Attorney, Powers of Attorney |

Originally published December 2010, Reader’s Digest magazine.  Copyright (c) 2010 by Reader’s Magazines Canada Limited. Further reproduction or distribution strictly prohibited. Reprinted with permission. The elderly and infirm routinely delegate control of their finances to family members but more and more Canadians are abusing that power. Can our aging population trust its own children? BY RISHA GOTLIEB On June 24, 2007, Tony Budkowski got an unexpected call from his mother’s nursing home in Oshawa. The home’s regular contact was Tony’s sister, Heather, but according to the administrator, Heather had left the country. “Instantly, I realized something was amiss,” says Budkowski. “Why didn’t my sister want me to know she’d be away and unavailable to help our mother?” He also learned the nursing-home fees had gone unpaid for eight months. “I knew my mother had enough to cover her bills, and my sister, who had been given power of attorney to pay these bills, had full access to Mom’s bank accounts.”  Budkowski started to investigate, but was stymied when he tried to obtain his mother’s banking records. He turned to the Durham Regional Police for assistance. Luckily, his file ended up in the hands of Sgt. John Keating, who Budkowski says is “very passionate” about protecting the vulnerable and the elderly. With Keating’s help, he eventually got the bank to hand over the records. “My sister had made off with our mother’s life savings, leaving her with $270.” Keating arrested the sister, and on June 10, 2008, she was sentenced to two years house arrest and three years probation, and was ordered to repay $92,000. This, says Keating, is one of the harshest convictions ever seen in Ontario’s Durham Region for abuse involving power of attorney (POA). Budkowski’s mother had Alzheimer’s. Her death earlier this year, at the age of 95, left unanswered questions about her POA document. “Did my mother know what she was signing?” asks Budkowski. “Or was it even her hand that signed it? I have my suspicions.” POA abuse stories are surfacing in every community across Canada. The Canadian government estimates that as many as ten percent of seniors are affected. “And financial abuse involving powers of attorney is the most rampant,” says Laura Watts, national director of the Canadian Centre for Elder Law in Vancouver. “Abuses are grossly under-reported. Victims are reluctant to come forward if the exploiter is a family member, due to feelings of shame, fear of exposure and even fear of being denied access to grandkids.” The situation—which Watts describes as “a national crisis”—is forcing legislators, the courts and police to re-evaluate their responses to reports of POA misuse. “I’ve heard over and over from seniors who have taken their complaints to police, only to be told this is a civil matter,” says Brian Trainor, a retired Saskatoon police officer and one of the first in Canada to investigate POA abuse cases. Keating has heard similar complaints, and maintains that a change is necessary. “The whole system needs to be revamped,” he says. “We need to start recognizing theft by POA for what it really is: a crime.” A power of attorney is a document that legally appoints  one individual (the “attorney”) to act on another’s behalf. Each province has its own POA legislation and terminology, but generally speaking, there are two types of POAs: those that grant authority to manage assets and those that cover personal care. For a POA that grants authority to manage assets, you can decide whether you want it to be continuing or noncontinuing. A continuing POA will stay in effect even if you become mentally incapable,...

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Parents Who Won’t Accept Help

Posted by on Feb 7, 2021 in Caregiving, Family Relationships, Sensitive Conversations |

Originally published at on September 3, 2010. Seniors resist help at home Susan Pigg, Living Reporter More than half of seniors resist asking for help, even from their adult children, fearing it signals a neediness that could land them in a nursing home, a new study shows. That fierce resistance is playing out in so many family squabbles — from the silent treatment to bitter turf wars between aging parents and their grown kids — that the home-care agency Home Instead Senior Care has just launched a series of online self-help videos, one of them focusing on communication. “This is a big problem for family caregivers,” says Bruce Mahony, owner of Home Instead’s Toronto office. “If seniors admit they need help, they think their independence is in question. They worry about losing control of their affairs.” Fifty-one per cent of 24,147 adult caregivers surveyed across Canada and the U.S. by Home Instead Senior Care from 2004 to 2009 say their aging relatives can be so reluctant to accept help, they fear for their safety. Some worry their elderly parents are forgetting to eat meals or take medications in a misguided bid to maintain their independence. Others are managing to hobble along with considerable help from elderly partners who are getting sick struggling to keep up appearances that all is well, elder-care experts say. But a big part of the problem is baby boomer children who feel the overwhelming need to parent their parents, says Mara Osis, co-founder of Calgary-based ElderWise Inc. which offers “family coaching” and advice via the book Your Aging Parents: How to Prepare, How to Cope. “We stress that you are not your parents’ parent. You need to see each other as two adults of different generations trying to work out a problem,” says Osis. The struggles can be even more complicated if the parent is suffering from early dementia and feels confused and threatened by any changes or in-home help from strangers. “Boomers are used to being very much in control of everything in their lives and being able to effect change, so when they see that they are getting push back from their parents, it’s an unfamiliar role. “Sometimes the adult child creates their own problems by saying, ‘I’m just going to fix mom and dad and their situation because the solution is very simple from my point of view.’ ” Read the complete article   ...

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Long Term (Care) Planning: It’s Not Just for the Old

Posted by on Feb 24, 2021 in Planning |

Canadians have been quietly caring for their elderly for hundreds of years. Suddenly, however, it seems that long term care has worked its way from obscurity into the national limelight virtually overnight. If you consider the state of the country, the reasons are obvious. Canada’s population is aging rapidly. According to a Statistics Canada 2001 report the number of people aged 65 and over is expected to double from nearly 4 million in 2000 to almost 8 million by 2026. By 2016 at the latest, Canada will have far more seniors than children aged 14 and under, a phenomenon never before recorded. The most rapidly growing age group, however, will be those over 80. Canada’s health care system is being restructured province by province; change and upheaval are the norm. The only sure thing seems to be less money and care for the old who require the most care. Canadians are worried. By 2031, over 750,000 Canadians will have Alzheimer Disease or related dementia unless a cure is found before then. Almost 25 per cent of Canadians now have someone with Alzheimer Disease in their family. Family caregivers are beginning to understand that caring today does not last for a few weeks or months as it did in the ‘old days’ – it can now last up to twenty years or more, completely disrupting one’s personal, work and financial life. There is an undeniable financial burden involved in long term care. No matter where care is provided - in the home or in an institution - families invariably end up paying for some products and services out of their own pockets. In fact, informal caregivers’ financial subsidy of cost of services delivered to the home, and in casual expenditures (food, laundry, gas, parking, etc.) - total about $100 mission a week or more, suggesting that caregivers spend at least $5 billion a year. Many caregivers report they have had to cut back on their personal budgets, use up their savings or borrow money to meet their caregiving financial obligations. Although many of us are aware of these care realities, Canadians continue to put long-term care planning on the back burner. “It won’t happen to me”, “My spouse will look after me”, “The kids will look after me”, “The government will provide for me” – continue to replace critical planning steps we all need to take.  These include: 1.    Looking after our health. Diabetes and obesity are running rampant among adults – and our children 2.    Talking to our parents and spouses about what we all want as we age 3.    Talking to our financial advisors about what we want as we age, and together coming up with a plan to ensure we have the financial and social resources to care for ourselves till the end of life.   It’s never too early or too late to start planning for long term care. As the saying goes: Just do it! Guest Author: Karen Henderson, Founder, Caregiver Network    Vol. 2, No. 20; © Karen Henderson, 2005...

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Estate Planning Part 2: Four Common Mistakes

Posted by on Nov 22, 2021 in Wills and Estate Planning |

Whether we like it or not, some parts of life are complex. We need help with areas where we lack experience or expertise. This is certainly true when it comes to certain legal, financial and tax matters – all of which can come into play with estate planning. But emotional pitfalls and relationship issues can also arise during estate planning. Here are four common estate planning mistakes to avoid: Mistake #1: Not changing your documents as you and your family experience life-changing events. There are dozens of life-changing events which should trigger the review of your legal and financial decisions. These include health problems, employment and business changes, births and deaths, marriages and divorces. For example, divorce does not invalidate a current will, but marriage does. If you purchase property outside your province of residence, the tax rules and laws of that jurisdictions may also affect your estate plan.  Mistake #2: Joint ownership with or investments on behalf of children. Many parents consider joint property ownership with children as a tax-saving strategy. But property jointly owned may be vulnerable to claims by your child’s creditors – or spouses in cases of divorce. Similarly, making investments in a child’s name does not guarantee that the investments will belong to the child upon your death – unless reflected in your will. Mistake #3: Preparing your own documents. The examples above may show that both professional legal and tax advice are key factors in sound estate planning. By looking to save on professional fees to have your will prepared, you could end up costing your estate much more, and cause added grief to family members and other beneficiaries. It’s all in the details and the experienced oversight that professionals bring to the table. They are trained to catch the small mistakes or omissions that can make a huge difference. Mistake #4: Not explaining estate decisions to beneficiaries. Some people use their wills as an opportunity for “settling scores” or to establish personal power from “beyond the grave”. First and foremost, consider your motivation and how you would like to be remembered. Where a will is likely to be contentious or leave important questions unanswered, consider talking about the reasons behind decisions in your will while you are still alive. If that’s not possible, leave a letter with your executor to share with beneficiaries. Don’t put an executor in the difficult position of trying to explain or interpret your wishes. *** Our estate plan can be one of many vehicles that reflect our personal values and how we have lived them. Whatever we leave materially is only part of our legacy. But the way in which we order our practical and financial affairs gives us an opportunity to create maximum benefit and minimum burden for others. A good estate plan can serve as a powerful symbol of a life well lived – and an “end of life” well-planned. © ElderWise Inc., 2010 Vol. 6, No. 11 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Publishing, a division of ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at and subscribe to our FREE...

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