CAREGIVERS MONTH

As National Family Caregivers Month comes to an end, television personality, award-winning journalist and long-time health advocate Joan Lunden joins us to offer her advice on how to cope while helping those you love.

Aired on November 28, 2017.

TRANSCRIPT

> NEW YORK CITY'S SENIOR POPULATION IS GROWING BIGGER THAN EVER, LIVING LONGER THAN EVER, AND GETTING POORER.

TONIGHT, STAGGERING STATISTIC, ONE IN FIVE ELDERLY MEN AND WOMEN IN THE BIG APPLE LIVES IN POVERTY.

ACCORDING TO THE CITY'S DEPARTMENT FOR THE AGING, BY 2030, SENIORS WILL MAKE UP 20% OF CITY RESIDENTS, AND AS THE U.S. POPULATION AGES, SENIORS' ECONOMIC SECURITY WILL INCREASE IN IMPORTANCE AND THE NATIONAL SOCIAL SERVICE RESOURCES WILL FACE AN UNPRECEDENTED DEMAND AS 75 MILLION BABY BOOMERS REACH RETIREMENT AGE.

SO, WHERE CAN THESE MOTHERS, FATHERS, AND GRANDPARENTS TURN TO FOR HELP?

A PLACE FOR MOM.

FORMER 'GOOD MORNING AMERICA' HOST JOAN LONDON HAS JOINED FORCES WITH THIS INITIATIVE THAT'S ONE OF THE LARGEST SENIOR LIVING REFERRAL SERVICES IN AMERICA, AND IT'S HELPING FAMILIES NAVIGATE THE LIVING SITUATION OF THEIR LOVED ONES.

JOAN, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

IT'S NICE TO BE WITH YOU.

OH, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

FIRST, TELL ME, HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THIS ORGANIZATION, A PLACE FOR MOM?

I WENT THROUGH THIS EXPERIENCE, AS SO MANY OTHERS DO, AND TOOK OVER THE CARE OF MY MOM, ACTUALLY, THE CARE OF MY MOM AND MY BROTHER, WHO SUFFERED FROM A LOT OF THE COMPLICATIONS OF TYPE 2 DIABETES, HAD THEM LIVING THERE FOR A LONG TIME.

HE FINALLY PASSED AWAY, AND MY MOM COULDN'T STAY LIVING WHERE SHE WAS, AND I MADE ALL THE MISTAKES YOU CAN MAKE.

YOU KNOW, I PUT HER INTO A REAL FANCY SCHMANCY SENIOR CARE, BECAUSE EVERYBODY THINKS SENIOR CARE TODAY IS JUST A NURSING HOME, AND THAT'S LIKE SO FAR FROM THE TRUTH.

IT GOES FROM ACTIVE SENIOR CARE, WHICH IS PRETTY MUCH JUST LIKE APARTMENT LIVING WITH A LOT OF STUFF GOING ON, AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO COOK DINNER TO ASSISTED LIVING, TO DEMENTIA CARE INTO HOSPICE CARE.

THE ONLY TIME YOU WOULD EVER GO INTO NURSING HOME CARE IS IF YOU NEEDED 24-HOUR NURSING CARE.

SO, I PUT MY MOM INTO WHAT WAS ACTIVE SENIOR LIVING, AND I THOUGHT SHE'D BE GREAT THERE, YOU KNOW?

SHE'D GO DOWNSTAIRS AND SEE ALL OF HER FRIENDS THAT SHE HADN'T SEEN IN A LONG TIME, SHE'D ENTERTAIN IN THE APARTMENT, BUT THAT WASN'T -- THAT WAS MY MOM OF TEN YEARS AGO.

MY MOM'S DEMENTIA HAD INCREASED GREATLY.

SHE WOULD GO DOWNSTAIRS, COULDN'T RECOGNIZE PEOPLE.

SHE GOT UPSET.

SHE'D GO INTO THE APARTMENT AND CLOSE THE DOOR, AND SHE WAS TERRIFIED TO BE ALONE.

SO I HAD TO MOVE HER SEVERAL TIMES, AND MOVING IS TOUGH ON SENIORS.

SO, I MADE A LOT OF THE MISTAKES, AND I FINALLY FOUND A SENIOR ADVISER, WHICH I DIDN'T KNOW THERE WAS A SENIOR ADVISER.

THEY'RE LIKE REALTORS.

OH.

EXCEPT INSTEAD OF FINDING A HOUSE OR APARTMENT, THEY FIND YOU A HOME IN A SENIOR COMMUNITY.

AND FINALLY, WHEN I WENT THAT ROUTE, THEY ASKED ALL THE RIGHT QUESTIONS FOR ME AND THEY LET ME KNOW WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES, AND I FOUND THE PERFECT PLACE FOR MY MOM, AND I MADE A PROMISE TO MYSELF THAT, YOU KNOW, I WAS GOING TO USE MY PLATFORM TO HELP OTHER PEOPLE HAVE AN EASIER TIME WALKING DOWN THIS PATH, BECAUSE WE'RE ALL GOING TO WALK DOWN IT.

YOU KNOW, THAT TIME IS GOING TO COME WHERE OUR MOTHER OR FATHER OR A SIBLING OR A GOOD FRIEND OR A SPOUSE NEEDS OUR ATTENTION AND OUR CARE, AND IT'S A TOUGH TRANSITION TO MAKE WITH YOUR PARENTS.

I WOULD IMAGINE THAT JUST ACCEPTING THAT YOUR PARENTS JUST AREN'T THE PEOPLE THAT RAISED YOU ANYMORE, THAT THEY'RE GONE INTO A DIFFERENT STAGE IN LIFE, THAT ALONE HAS GOT TO BE DIFFICULT ENOUGH FOR ADULT CHILDREN.

YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT WHEN YOU GROW UP AND YOU GO AWAY TO COLLEGE AND YOU LIVE IN YOUR OWN PLACE, THAT'S A NORMAL TRANSITION.

THEN YOU GET MARRIED AND ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU HAVE TO MOVE IN WITH SOMEONE ELSE, THAT'S STILL A NATURAL TRANSITION.

YOU HAVE CHILDREN, THEY TAKE OVER YOUR LIFE.

BUT THE DAY YOU BECOME A PARENT TO YOUR PARENTS, THE ONES THAT ALWAYS HAD ALL THE ANSWERS FOR YOU, AND NOW YOU'RE TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO, NOT SO MUCH.

I JUST DON'T THINK THAT'S A NATURAL TRANSITION.

I THINK MOST PEOPLE HAVE A DIFFICULT TIME WITH THAT.

IT JUST DOESN'T FEEL LIKE A NATURAL TRANSITION.

AND SO, IT'S AWKWARD FOR THE ADULT SIBLING, THE ADULT CHILD, AND IT'S AWKWARD FOR THE SENIOR, BECAUSE THEY DON'T REALLY WANT TO TALK ABOUT END-OF-LIFE ISSUES OR EVEN, YOU KNOW, LAST-CHAPTER ISSUES.

IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT, THOUGH, THAT YOU DON'T WAIT UNTIL A TIME OF CRISIS.

PEOPLE WAIT UNTIL THEY GET THAT PHONE CALL, A STROKE, A FALL, YOU KNOW, AND YOU DON'T WANT TO BE MAKING THESE DECISIONS IN TIMES OF CRISIS.

INSTEAD, HAVE THAT FAMILY CONVERSATION THAT YOU ALWAYS HEAR ABOUT, AND DON'T DO IT OVER THANKSGIVING.

LIKE, FIND A CALM, PEACEFUL TIME.

AND PART OF IT'S TONE.

IT'S NOT LIKE, YOU KNOW, HEY, I'M GOING TO HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING, SO TELL ME WHAT I'M GOING TO HAVE TO DO.

IT'S, YOU'VE SPENT YOUR WHOLE LIFE TAKING CARE OF ME.

I WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT, YOU KNOW, THE LAST CHAPTERS OF YOUR LIFE ARE GOING TO PLAY OUT LIKE YOU'D LIKE THEM.

HOW CAN I HELP DO THAT?

LET ME BE A PART OF THAT.

YOU KNOW, THERE'S WAYS OF GETTING PARENTS INTO CONVERSATIONS, BUT THERE'S ALSO JUST KIND OF THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF IT, WHICH IS GETTING THE LIST OF ALL THE DOCTORS, ALL THEIR MEDICATIONS, KIND OF GETTING THEIR AFFAIRS IN ORDER.

PEOPLE THINK THAT WHAT'S IMPORTANT IS THE WILL.

WELL, I'LL TELL YOU WHAT'S MUCH MORE IMPORTANT, A LIVING WILL, YOU KNOW, THAT TELLS YOU IF YOUR PARENT IS, YOU KNOW, THEIR LIFE IS IN JEOPARDY.

THESE KINDS OF THINGS SHOULD BE FILLED OUT AHEAD OF TIME.

A HIPAA RELEASE SO THAT THE DOCTOR AND THE HOSPITAL HAS PERMISSION TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT YOUR PARENT.

OTHERWISE, BY LAW, HIPAA RELEASES PROTECT OUR HEALTH INFORMATION.

YOU NEED A POWER OF ATTORNEY, A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR BOTH LEGAL AND FOR HEALTH.

THIS WILL ALLOW YOU TO CONDUCT BUSINESS FOR YOUR PARENT OR YOUR SPOUSE IF THEY ARE NOT ABLE TO DO SO THEMSELVES.

I MEAN, THESE ARE IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS, AND IT'S A GOOD IDEA TO KNOW WHERE ALL THE IMPORTANT PAPERS ARE.

BECAUSE I LEARNED THIS THE HARD WAY.

I WENT IN TO MY MOM AND I SAID, YOU KNOW, WHERE'S YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE?

OH, HONEY, YOU KNOW I'M NOT DRIVING ANYMORE.

OKAY.

WHERE'S YOUR PASSPORT?

OH, HONEY, I'M NOT TAKING ANY OF THOSE TRIPS.

YOU SENT ME ON ALL OF THEM, COME ON.

WHERE'S YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY CARD?

I DON'T KNOW.

I TURNED TO THE CAREGIVER THAT I HAD IN THE HOME AND SAID, WELL, SO THEN WHAT DO YOU GIVE THE PHARMACIST WHEN YOU GO TO GET THEIR MEDICATION?

SHE SAID YOUR CREDIT CARD.

OH!

SO, I MEAN, I HAD TO PUT BACK TOGETHER HER IDENTITY AND FIND ALL THESE PAPERS AND THE TITLE TO THE CAR AND EVERYTHING.

START PULLING SOME OF THESE THINGS TOGETHER SO THAT IT WILL BE AN EASIER TRANSITION WHEN YOU START TO HAVE TO HELP THEM MAKE THOSE DECISIONS THAT QUITE OFTEN THEY DON'T WANT TO MAKE.

ALL RIGHT, WELL, ON BEHALF OF ALL OF US ADULT CHILDREN, THANK YOU FOR ENCOURAGING US AND MAKING SURE THAT WE UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF NOT WAITING TO THE LAST MINUTE UNTIL THAT CRISIS BEFORE WE HAVE THAT DIFFICULT CONVERSATION OF WHAT TO DO.

YEAH.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

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