Q: My aged mother still lives independently in her own home, but it's becoming clear that my siblings and I are going to have to step in soon to help her handle her finances and other business matters. Do you have any advice for preparing for what's to come?
Jim: You're wise to begin addressing these issues while your mother is still able to participate in the process of providing for her own future. She needs to be comfortable sharing personal information with you -- and you may need to consider using a financial adviser, accountant or attorney as a neutral third party to facilitate the necessary discussions.
Start by helping your mom calculate the total value of all her assets (savings, investments, real estate, etc.). Then ask questions about her monthly spending. Can she eliminate any expenses? Are there other sources of money available (for example, selling items or properties or cashing in a life-insurance policy)? How is her health care coverage? Does she have Medicare or Medicaid and any supplemental insurance?
It's also crucial to determine whether she has the means to continue supporting herself at her current standard of living. The average retiree today has to provide about 60 percent of his or her living expenses, while Social Security covers the rest. If investments make up a significant amount of her assets, and you're not comfortable managing them, get referrals from friends and look for a reputable financial adviser.
To locate local professional agencies that can help you and your mother resolve financial matters, contact the Eldercare Locator (eldercare.acl.gov). For listings of state and county organizations, visit the website for USAging (n4a.org).
Finally, if you have relationship concerns and challenges associated with this situation, please don't hesitate to give our counseling department a call at 855-771-HELP (4357). I wish you all the best.
Q: My son is just getting to the "toddler tantrum" stage. I'm a bit overwhelmed as a first-time parent -- how do I handle these episodes?
Dr. Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting & Youth: Keep in mind that much depends on the reason for the tantrum. Is your child hungry or tired? If so, offering a snack or a nap may be all it takes to nip a tantrum in the bud.
However, if your child is simply frustrated over not getting his way, the best thing to do is ignore the outburst. Avoid dropping everything else in an effort to appease your child. This teaches him that negative behavior pays off, which ends up being counterproductive and just exacerbates the bigger problem.
So let him vent without rising to the bait of "fixing things." Once your child does calm down, explain that screaming won't work and that things work much better when he uses words to express what he wants. The goal is to teach him better ways to manage the emotions that come with frustration.
If the tantrum continues, however, you may need to use a timeout. Place your toddler somewhere without toys or entertainment and wait for him to quiet down before allowing him to rejoin the family. The best rule is one minute for every year of the child's age.
It can also be helpful to identify those triggers that set your child off. For example, if your toddler tends to throw a fit when it's time to leave a fun setting, prepare him in advance. A five-minute warning can go a long way toward heading off a tantrum.
Finally, remember that toddler temper tantrums are perfectly normal and just mean that their brain is "stuck." And, if they're handled correctly, your child will soon learn healthier ways to express his emotions.
For more tips and tools for raising young children, visit FocusOnTheFamily.com/parenting.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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