The longer Chris Cooper talks about his new book, Eldercare Confidential: Cautionary Tales for Adult Caregivers and Caretakers of Parents and Spouses, the darker his quips grow. Cooper, a Certified Financial Planner based in San Diego, says ignorance about the realities of eldercare abound, and that finding affordable, quality care for the elderly can be laborious and frustrating.

“When I was 19, I went to work in a nursing home and after that, I decided that when I retired, I better own my own nursing home,” says Cooper, 59, who is founder of Eldercare Advocates, which provides geriatric care management and long-term-care counseling.

Cooper’s long-term-care plan for himself is an ideal strategy: “I’ve had long-term-care insurance since I was 40. I also have wealth, I have empowered others to act for me when I can’t act for myself -- to be my fiduciaries -- and I have done estate plans, health-care directives and a will. I have the people in place  who have to carry these jobs out and who know how to get it done.”

In Eldercare Confidential, Cooper warns readers that the concept of lovely, healthy and mostly government-paid-for-homes for the elderly is largely unrealistic. He calls it the Shady Acres myth.

“Even if it did exist, you probably could not afford it. Most middle-income Americans are unaware of the crucial fact that the government does not generally cover long-term-care expenses. This can be distressing for the 6 million Americans age 85 and older, a number that will shoot up to more than 14 million in 2040,” Cooper writes.

Lack of knowledge about eldercare extends through the generations, Cooper says; in his practice, he regularly meets health-care workers who are unprepared to deal with the needs of their elderly parents.

“I’ve even dealt with doctors who get an attitude when I try to tell them how they must prepare for their elderly parents’ care. ‘I make enough money to pay for my Mom’s care!’ they tell me, and I say, “Great, let me see your financials, your will, your trust, etc. What happens if you die before your mother?’ They don’t think it out.”

In his book, Cooper includes contact information for 15 agencies and associations that provide information on issues such as aging parents and eldercare, Medicare rights, Alzheimer’s disease, nursing home abuse, elder law attorneys and long-term care financing.

He says that children of the elderly had best be prepared for resistance to a move to a nursing home or assisted living facility. “We helped a woman living in Chicago whose parents were living out in the country in Ohio, and even though the husband had been going downhill for three years, it was like pulling teeth getting him to move. He was falling a lot and his wife was showing signs of dementia. The daughter finally convinced him to move and when they did, he said ‘This is it! I’m spending my hard-earned money on this?’ When she told me this, I was taken aback. I’m at this 35 years and still surprised at what I hear,’’ Cooper said.

But avoiding the trauma and expense of moving to an eldercare setting by staying in the family home isn’t always feasible, Cooper says.

First « 1 2 3 » Next