Dear Doug: Choosing Parent Health Care

Creators Syndicate | 3/24/2014, 6:33 a.m.
Q: Mom passed three years ago, and Dad still lives at home. He is not feeling well. My husband and ...
Doug Mayberry

By Doug Mayberry

Q: Mom passed three years ago, and Dad still lives at home. He is not feeling well. My husband and I live miles away. Now, he is asking us to make the decisions for his health care.

We have full-time jobs, are busy raising our family, and are not able to see him often. How can we make the best decision for him?

A: First, you need to obtain a written assessment of his existing physical condition from his doctor. What are his needs now? Does he require bathing, full-time supervision and meal preparation?

What is his doctor's prognosis? Next, what options are affordable? Does he have a long-term health care policy? Has he equity in his home that could be sold? Does he draw retirement income, Social Security, investment or enjoy other assets?

You cannot make the call until you obtain this information. For example, if you choose in-home care, you will be exposed to his legal responsibilities, IRS payroll taxation, and maybe even be sued for a caretaker accident, theft, senior abuse or other issues.

Professional health care organizations are available, but you would still be saddled with the monitoring issue.

Is it possible you could move him where you live? If so, investigate what his local options are. Ask your religious adviser, friends and doctor for advice. Visit your senior center to determine what services it provides. In many cases, adult children do not have a cooperative parent who is willing to accept advice. You are fortunate that you father is cooperative. Dad knows you will make the best decision for him!

Q: I became a widower three years ago. I have enjoyed living in the same neighborhood for over for 37 years. I have three adult children and six grandchildren who live in scattered states. I am lonely, and have decided to bite the bullet and move to a retirement community, which is about l50 miles away.

My family disapproves of my moving, and believes I will be unhappy there and will want to return to my old neighborhood.

I am willing to take that risk because I need a new outlook, want to enjoy what time I have left and make new friends. Maybe I could find a new lady to love me!

Actually, the new location offers better visiting access for my family, as there is a nearby airport and train station. Shall I hold my ground?

A: What are your family's real objections? In today's world, communication is available for quick and easy via the Internet, families are busier than ever, and many individuals are unemployed. Doctors and hospital administrators often choose their office locations near where seniors live as a matter of convenience.

Seniors are living longer, are healthier and want to enjoy life as much as possible.

Perhaps your family's major reason for its disapproval is simply nostalgia and remembering what a happy and loving time you all enjoyed living in the family homestead! Or, is it really the possibility of a new lady issue?

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California Retirement community. Contact him at To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at