Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Robert:            It seems to me, maybe this is loading too much on geriatricians, but when this works, when a family is involved, when they see a model of healthcare that really works, that's got to affect their process of healthcare.

Dennis:            It does, it gives you some guidelines for your own life and it also models for your peers and their families.  The stories that get told about this going well, really become the guideposts for the next set of families and for us.  We learn how to become older by being around people who are going through this.

Robert:            Okay, now I'm going to talk to my sister more; I'm going to find myself a 50-year-old geriatrician; what else should I be doing right now?

Dennis:            Children.

Robert:            Talk to my kids.

Dennis:            Talk to your children.

Robert:            I forgot about that.

Dennis:            Big thing.

Robert:            No, no, no, let's talk about that.  As an aging person, I should be preparing my kids to take over, right?

Dennis:            You've got to train them to do what they need to do for you.  They need to be your advocates because there is going to come a time for you and me and all of us, when we're going to get into circumstances where we cannot manage our own affairs.  And we're going to have to trust someone else to do it.

Robert:            Dennis, this is an issue for me.  I'm not quite ready, and it's not a matter of not trusting the kids.  I mean, they've got kids, I've got grandkids.  I don't want to suddenly kind of put advance burdens on them, other than make sure they read my directives.

Dennis:            You're right at the emotional center of the whole issue, and that is as an older person, you also have to learn to share and give something.

Robert:            Sound like give up.

Dennis:            No, it's not give up, no, and it can start with humor.  My daughter says, "Dad, you've trained me so well, I know I'm going to find the best nursing home in the world for you when you need it."  But we have this relationship.  She's very skilled now because she's been involved in my mother's care when my mother was living.  I mean, she went into the middle of things and really grew up and learned a lot of skills.  But you're right, how do you trust your children?  You don't want to burden them, but at some point, if something happens to you relatively soon, how prepared are they going to be?  Even to contemplate the possibility of your being either disabled or not being here anymore.