November 17th, 2008

ozarque figure

Recommended link; eldering and caregiving and a reality check...

My thanks to niemandsrose for alerting me to a post by Cary Tennis at http://www.salon.com/mwt/col/tenn/2008/11/12/alzheimers/ --
offering advice to someone whose question goes like this:

"She has Alzheimer's and I don't want to care for her:
How can I avoid becoming the primary caregiver for my mother-in-law when she lives next door?"

Cary Tennis says it's important to plan ahead instead of just winging it, and I certainly agree with that. But here's a brief quote from what she says next:

"So here is what I would do first. I would have a lawyer set up a bank account and a trust. I would name it the [Insert Name of Mother-in-Law] Alzheimer]s Care Trust. I would put some money into it. If the mother-in-law has some money to put in it, I would put that money into it. I would also ask for large contributions from all of the family. Make them large contributions, as large as possible. So you start with a good kitty. Then it's just sitting there. It's protected money, set aside for your mom's care. You're all feeling pretty good about it. You've taken a big step."

This startled me, especially as the recommended first step. It presupposes that the members of this family have the money to set up "a good kitty" in the form of a bank account and a trust, as if that were something you could just take for granted. Most people in the circles I move in are far more likely not to have even the money necessary to hire that lawyer. And in our current economy, with people being laid off by the tens of thousands every few days, it's not going to be just those people for very much longer.

I guess it's the casual tone of the recommendation that shocks me most. There's not even a disclaimer. And to my mind the post can almost be said to go downhill from there.

This is a dilemma that a lot of people are going to have to face, although the exact details will vary from one family to another. Maybe it will be some illness other than Alzheimer's; maybe the elderly relative will be across town instead of next door; maybe there'll be more or fewer family members involved. But it's going to be a very common problem, and it's not going to be easy to deal with.

If you're interested in discussing this, I'd be pleased to have your input.