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Aging: A Family Affair

Updated: 08/13/2014 3:26 PM
Created: 07/14/2014 6:44 PM KSTP.com
By: Josh Rosenthal

Discussing options for aging loved ones is a difficult task for families. While some Minnesota families haven’t had to have this conversation yet, others may already have a plan in place for the time when their parents can no longer care for themselves.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Contributor Dr. Archelle Georgiou is helping your families understand your options. From finding a senior care facility, to making sure your loved one has everything they need to age comfortably at home, “Aging: A Family Affair” addresses the many steps families should take to plan for the future.

One Minnesota woman and her mother shared their story as they start to decide what’s next for 92-year-old Alice Madzey.

"She's sharp, and it's gotta be tough on her, you know, when your body starts to wear down," said Susan Belew, Alice Madzey’s daughter.

"We're not sure what we're gonna do," Belew explained. "She's not real excited about going to assisted living."

Madzey fell in April and fractured two vertebrae. Belew moved into her mom's Minneapolis condo to help take care of her. Now the question is: what comes next?

"I just feel like I'm such a bother to everybody, because I have to use my walker all the time, and they have to wait on me," Madzey said.

Belew says that's not the way she feels about her mom at all, but it is an emotion and a fear that so many families are dealing with.

"We are right now experiencing an increase in the elderly population in both this community and all over the country," explained Health Partners Geriatrician Tom von Sternberg. He is Madzey's doctor and says she's doing things right. Her family is involved in the process, and they're talking about it on their own, but that doesn't change the fact that these conversations between parents and children are different.

"Many times," said von Sternberg, "these patients, who have been the parent and have been the person that other relied on, have to adjust to a new situation where they're relying on others, and that process is not easy."

Of course, there are other reasons this is such a difficult topic to discuss. In this case, the saying “mother knows best,” still holds up.

"Maybe you know that I won't be here forever. You think that's right?," Madzey asked Belew, who wiped away a few tears and told her mom, simply, "yeah."

There are many resources out there for families like Madzey and Belew. Minnesota tracks conditions in nursing homes and compiles the information into a nursing home report card.

Everplans allows you to securely store wills, funeral wishes and other important information.

Plus, there is a lot of technology that can help make caring for your older parents at home easier.

Susan Belew embraces her mother as they talk about 92-year-old Alice Madzey's future case options.
Photo: KSTP

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