By Susan Bromley
Brandon Twp.- The golden years can be accompanied by some not so golden moments that many are reluctant to discuss.
But talking about and preparing for difficulties that come with aging can make them easier for all.
A new series “Navigating Senior Issues and Retirement,” aims to facilitate that discussion through three separate programs, with the first, “Memory Loss, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease,” to be held from 7-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, at St. Anne Catholic Church, 825 S. Ortonville Road. Speakers are Colleen Burke and Carolyn Johnston, LMSW.
“It’s an overview of assessing people as they age from a non-medical person’s point of view,” said Burke, Lourdes Senior Community development director. “For example, say your mother forgot to turn off the stove or your father forgot to shower last week. Did you visit and find the same food in the fridge that was there last time? This program is about what to do if you see those things, and the diagnoses besides Alzheimer’s that may be received.”
The series is intended for adult children of aging parents, as well as those with spouses or another loved one in the same older generation. Burke notes that many adult children in their 60s are now caring for parents in their 80s. Signs and symptoms of memory loss will be discussed, as well as ways to keep a home safe for an aging loved one.
Subsequent Wednesday programs, all from 7-8 p.m. in Hardy Hall at St. Anne Church are “How does payment for services work?” on June 28, where Attorney Bob Mannor will discuss Medicaid, Medicare, private and long-term care insurance; “Trusts, Wills, POA, DPOA, Oh My!!” on July 12, with Attorney Bob DeWitt talks about the difference between a power of attorney and guardian and the best way to protect assets; and “End of Life Decisions,” with panelists Father Gerry Frawley from St. Anne Parish, Brandon Community Church Pastor Matt Bailey, Village Funeral Home Director Roy Langolf, and Tom Avery of St. Joseph Mercy Hospice discussing spiritual, medical, financial and logistical issues.
“Discussions with adult children should take place routinely as you age regarding life support, nursing home or other living arrangements— where do you want to go, if you’re going to live with a child, which one do you want to live with,” said Burke. “Those discussions need to happen in your 60s and 70s, it doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind, but there needs to be an open discussion so people know the decisions. You get to make the decision and not the kids.”
She noted that people hesitate to have these conversations because no one wants to think about such difficult topics and they may also fear relinquishing control, but in fact, having the talks allows them to keep control over what happens should they become incompetent.
“The best reason to attend these programs is because it will help you prepare so that at an emotional time in life, decisions will have already been discussed,” said Burke. “You will be acting on actual wishes, and not emotions.”
All programs are free and sponsored by St. Anne Catholic Church and Lourdes Senior Community. For more information, call Colleen at 248-673-1720 or Karyn at 248-627-3965, ext.103.