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Howard Gleckman on Caring for Mom and Dad

It's a situation that many of us will likely face: How to care for aging parents.

If you're now going through this and need some answers on navigating the elder care system, check out a forum featuring Howard Gleckman, author of Caring for Our Parents. Gleckman, a resident fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and a former Business Week economics correspondent, offers to advise adult children on dealing with the emotional and financial aspects of caring for elderly parents.

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Gleckman took care of his aging father and father-in-law. On his blog, he lists 10 things you should know about caring for your parents. Here are five of them:

1. You are not alone. Today, 40 million Americans are caring for an elderly parent or disabled relative. As our parents age, more than two out of every three of them will need some personal assistance.

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2. Long-term care is not medical care. It is the personal assistance the disabled and frail elderly need to improve the quality of their lives. It may be help eating, bathing, or going to the bathroom. It may be a ride to the doctor or the grocery store, or help balancing a checkbook or cooking dinner.

3. Most of us get this care at home or in the home of an adult child or relative, not in a nursing home. In fact, nearly 80 percent of the frail elderly and the disabled live at home. Fewer than 15 percent live in nursing homes.

4. While most of our parents prefer to stay at home, it is not always the best place for them. Living at home can be lonely and often dangerous. For those who are very ill, it may also be just as expensive as a nursing home. But if your mom or dad needs lots of help, look for other options besides nursing facilities.

5. Medicare will not pay for long-term care. Neither will Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap). These programs will pay only for limited nursing home or home health care, and only after a patient is discharged from the hospital.

To find out the other five or to discuss your own list with Gleckman, check out his talk next week.

He'll be speaking at 7 p.m., March 31, at Loyola University Graduate Center in Timonium. The event is free but call to reserve a spot at 410-427-3121.

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