Dear Carol: I’ve got a good friend whose father, once the caregiver of her mother, has now developed Alzheimer’s disease. Her mother is dying from cancer. This is obviously a family in distress, however they are well-versed in how to get professional care and have people coming in from both hospice and in-home care. My question is what do I do as a friend? I want to do something, but everything I think of seems so trivial. – Erica
Dear Erica: I can assure you your friends won’t find your efforts trivial. They obviously have a great deal to handle. Even with the most efficient and caring professionals at their sides, they need their friends. Sometimes all you have to do is ask specifically if they need something.
Dear Readers: Last September, I wrote about Presto.com, a printer unit and e-mail service that can receive e-mail, photos, magazine articles and other mail that the family chooses to send to their elder.
Dear Carol: My parents are doing well, however they are in their early 70s, and I’m worried about how to bring up sensitive topics like living wills and a power of attorney. How do we start asking about money issues and what they want when they die? It’s hard to bring these things up without sounding like we’re waiting for them to die, which we certainly are not. – Arnie
Dear Readers: One of the most profound losses of independence an elder must face is the end of his or her privilege to drive. A fortunate few don’t face this loss until their ninth decade. However, the realities of weakening eyes, slowing response times and for some, mental decline, make driving cessation a fact of life for some in their 60s, and for many in their 70s and 80s.
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