Individuals can take a number of steps to anticipate future elder-care needs, experts agree:
*Talk the problem out with the entire family, and especially the elderly members who may need the care, says Dr. Neal Cutler of the National Council On The Aging. Make certain that elderly family members actively participate in making the final decision as to housing or care, he says.
*Contact as many national or local elder-care groups as possible. If your city or state has an office dealing with the aging, check with them for possible resources.
*Consider buying elder-care insurance as young as you can, to keep costs down over time. But make certain the insurance company has a solid financial record (if in doubt, check with your state insurance commission), and that the policy is adjusted for inflation over time, according to Don Kaufman, vice president of DeWitt Stern Group, Inc., an insurance brokerage firm in New York.
*If they don't already have it, ask your company to consider setting up an elder-care program. At the least, ask to have the company fund a counseling office that a person providing elder care can call if he or she feels intimidated by the conflicting demands of job and home.
*Write your local congressman to urge the exploration the long-range ramifications of elder care on the nation's well-being.
*Make elder care part of the total financial plan that you put together early in your business and home-making experience.
In the 21st century, breadwinners (both husband and wife, or single parent) will have to consider it as much a component of family planning as providing for their children.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society