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How to avoid the pitfalls of parenting your parents


A middle-age man worries aloud about his father driving at night. His father complains about being badgered by his kids about his driving. While the son sees it as a matter of his dad’s safety, the father sees it as a challenge to his decision-making ability.

Whenever a thirtysomething woman visits her mother, she checks the use-by dates on the foods in the pantry and refrigerator. To the daughter, that’s a loving act of care. To the mother, though, it’s a violation of privacy and inspection for things to criticize.

Out of love for their aging parents, family caregivers in the Sandwich Generation often spend more hours caring for their parents than their children. They sacrifice salary, raises, career advancement, pensions, retirement funds and other financial benefits. They cope with extra stresses.

Only to get what seems like conflict, resistance and resentment in return.

COVID-19 is triggering a pandemic of scams

covid scamsCrises like pandemics can bring out the best in people – and, unfortunately, the worst. Using the pandemic as a handle, con artists have made elder fraud a multimillion-dollar industry. Just this year to date, the Federal Trade commission has received more than 187,000 elder fraud reports, robbing Americans of over $106 million. Americans 70 and older reported the biggest median losses.

As the demographic group most vulnerable to COVID-19, elders are the most worried about it. Those worries can make them particularly vulnerable to scams like these:

It’s time for another close look at your Medicare coverage.

medicare enrollment edit2If it's mid-October, that must mean it’s once again time for Medicare Open Enrollment. So between now and when Open Enrollment ends December 7, it’s worth going over to learn about new or improved benefits taking effect January 1, 2021.

Save hundreds of dollars a year on insulin. Starting with the New Year, you can join a participating Part D Senior Savings Model plan and take advantage of significant senior savings on insulin. For many types of insulin, copays will be capped at $35 for a 30-day supply. The Center for Medicare Services estimates that can add up to $446 in yearly out-of-pocket savings.

ESRD patients can enjoy Medicare Advantage Plans’ advantages. Last year, enrollment in Advantage Plans grew by 9%, bringing the total to 36% of all Medicare beneficiaries. I’ve written before about the extra benefits that Advantage Plans offer at no extra cost. Unfortunately these plans weren’t open to seniors with End Stage Renal Disease. As of January 1, 2021, they will be.

Some commonly used meds could speed mental decline

common medsA widely used group of prescription and over-the-counter medications could speed up older adults’ mental decline, a series of studies in the US, Canada, France and Germany show.

These meds are called anticholinergics (ACs for short). In addition to prescriptions, many over-the-counter allergy, cough, and cold medicines have anticholinergic properties.

ACs are widely used for a very good reason: They work. They’re effective in treating all kinds of conditions – from allergies and motion sickness to overactive bladder to high blood pressure, from depression to Parkinson’s disease. The most frequently prescribed ACs include antidepressants (amitriptyline, bupropion, citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, mirtazapine, nortriptyline, paroxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine), antipsychotics (aripiprazole, clozapine, olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone), insomnia drugs (trazodone, zopiclone), and pain relievers (amitriptyline, cyclobenzaprine, nortriptyline).

5 ways to fight off compassion fatigue

compassion fatigueBeing a family caregiver has never been easy. But now, with all the added stresses from the pandemic, it’s harder than ever – so much harder that a June CDC survey of unpaid family caregivers found that reported cases of anxiety disorder had tripled compared to second quarter 2019, and cases of depression disorder had quadrupled.

All too often, this results from caregivers being emotionally torn between caring for a family member the love and really needs their help and taking even the most routine care of themselves. So even without clinical depression or anxiety, they can find themselves becoming irritable, fatigues, forgetful, bored and apathetic, cancelling plans, and pulling back from everyday activities.

But if you’re a family caregiver, here are five things you can do to help prevent compassion fatigue from wearing you down and burning you out: