Sooner or later, we will be taking care of a parent or a loved one who is aging. According to the National Family Caregivers Association, “More than 50 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year.” Our State’s elderly population is expected to reach 12.5 million by 2040, an increase of 232 percent from 1990. Beginning in 2010, 1 in 5 Californians will be 60 years of age or older. As the average age of the population becomes older, the importance of a care giver becomes increasingly significant, both functionally and economically.
At any moment, you could become a care giver which means you will have to make good decisions for your loved one; therefore, what to do next and where to go for help will be crucial. Undoubtedly, this will raise concerns about your responsibilities and what resources will be available to you. Many of us are so pre-occupied with our own financial and emotional security, thinking about and planning for our retirement years, that we are not thinking about a crisis situation with mom, dad, or an aging loved one.
Do you know your aging loved one’s wishes? Knowing that an advanced health care directive allows individuals to appoint an agent who has power of attorney to make care and treatment decisions on their behalf will become very important. When is it time to consider moving them out of the home and when do you bring in specialized care? Knowing where to go for housing and in-home care resources is essential to the continued health and safety of your loved one.
Most importantly, how will your aging loved one afford the appropriate care they need and are you and your siblings in a financial position to help? The answers to these questions are not always easy to find; while there are many government agencies and organizations to help you navigate through the challenges of these issues, rarely can you get all of this information in one place.
Please join me and other County residents for a free community event, “Planning and Caring for Aging Loved Ones,” on Saturday, June 2, 2007 at the Malcolm X Elementary School in Berkeley from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event will offer you information essential to plan for issues related to legal responsibilities, housing, health and safety of aging adults. Alameda County’s Social Services Agency and the Area Agency on Aging will have resources at the event, along with the City of Berkeley. There will also be many community groups with invaluable resources that you can take home with you, so you can begin the planning process.
For more information or to register for this free event, please call my office at 272-6695 or visit www.acgov.org/board/district5/event.htm.
Keith Carson represents District 5 on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.