Who will care for you when you get old? If that's a scary or uncomfortable question, you are in good company. Most people don't want to think about their long-term care needs and when they do, they tend to have major misperceptions of what it costs and what the government will pay for.
It may be a personal calling, a debt to pay or an act of profound love, but caring for an elderly parent or loved one can be a difficult juggling act. Here is some practical advice on the medical front to the 50 million Americans who are the unpaid caretakers.
Mushroom-barley soup, a staple of my childhood, lovingly prepared by Grandma Mollie, was the most delicious soup I'd ever tasted. Grandma Mollie always got it just right, but this time, something was awry.
A month ago, I almost became the subject of one of my own medical school lectures, after an episode that illustrated one of the most serious health problems facing older adults and their doctors: falling.
I do my best to keep things in perspective, acknowledging that Harriet is not in pain, that we are not talking about a major illness here -- no heart problems, no cancer, so much to be grateful for at 95. But even this -- a simple cataract operation -- is unbelievably stressful and complicated.
I get to see another stressful family byproduct of the holiday season: the realization that mom or dad may be "slowing down" in ways one or more siblings might not have recognized during the preceding year.
The saddest thing I see in my practice and in the wider world of elder abuse is the older person with modest retirement savings who gets preyed upon, loses everything, and now has nothing left, with no prospect for future income.