Dear Annie: My husband and I live in Minnesota. His 78-year-old stepbrother lives by himself in Florida. “Horace” has a part-time job and goes to church regularly, but otherwise sticks to himself. He has only a nodding acquaintance with the neighbors.
We are his only family. We are the ones who initiate phone calls and send cards on holidays. He never calls us. Horace is healthy, but I worry so much about what will happen to him when his health declines. He has no one nearby who can help. If he became incapacitated or died suddenly, we’d be completely in the dark as to how to proceed with his financial affairs.
My husband thinks there’s no sense in worrying about things until they happen. But by then, it will be too late. I don’t know how to approach Horace about making plans for the inevitable. I once asked him to consider moving to Minnesota, but he didn’t respond, and besides, I doubt he’d actually come back to the cold after all this time. My husband won’t be retiring for another eight years, so it’s not as if we can take off and visit whenever. Where can we turn for help? – Losing Sleep
Dear Losing: You are kind to worry about Horace and smart to plan ahead, but there’s only so much you can do without his cooperation. Ask Horace whether he’d mind if you spoke to his neighbors to get their phone numbers and email addresses so you can contact them if he becomes unreachable. Perhaps Horace would allow you to make a copy of his house key in case of emergency. Visit his church and find out whether there is a program to check on the members who live alone. Also suggest to Horace that he leave financial information with his lawyer. And should Horace become ill or require care, you could contact Eldercare Locator (1-800-677-1116; eldercare.gov) or ask about hiring a geriatric care manager ( caremanager.org) to handle the details.
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