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Transcript: Chat With AARP President Rob Romasco on Caregiving

Missed the Dec. 11 conversation? Read the transcript

Comment From George: Once my mother was a vibrant, energetic and attractive woman and mother. Now, she is mostly lifeless and unable to bathe or use the toilet without assistance. I feel resentful and occasionally very angry about this turn of events and the changes in my life caused by these caregiving duties. I am also saddened by her decline. How and what can I do to feel better?

Rob Romasco: Hi, George. These are real emotions that often affect many people who are caregivers, like you. You are not alone.

It is important to take care of yourself so you can take care of your mother. This is a hard job. We are here to help you. Here's a start. Everyone who has this challenge has those conflicting emotions – devotion to the ones they love and frustration at the circumstances.

You're doing a brave and noble thing. It's perfectly okay to need help and to feel the way you do.

Comment From Eddie: My mother is living with me. Due to her age, she cannot take care of herself. She gets Social Security, which pays for her home and her health insurance. Is there any way I can claim her for income taxes? I buy her food, pay for her clothing, etc.

Rob Romasco: Eddie – good question! The good news is, there may be ways for you to take advantage of certain tax breaks for dependents and/or their care.

You may be able to declare your parent as a dependent, if your parent is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident receiving less income than the personal exemption amount for the tax year (which was $3,800 in 2012, excluding Social Security income), not eligible to or required to file an income tax return themselves, not filing a joint income tax return, or receiving more than 50 percent of all financial support from you.

Go to the Internal Revenue Service website or call 800-TAX-1040 for detailed eligibility rules, brochures and filing forms. See instructions for form 2441 to learn more about claiming the dependent care tax credit.

Comment From Mary: I’m afraid if I take away my mom's keys, she will really be isolated. She can drive “ok” during the day. We don’t have a public transportation system where we live, if we have this conversation how can we find the transportation resources we need to help her remain socially connected?

Rob Romasco: Mary, it’s great that you're researching alternate transportation before broaching the subject of hanging up the keys with your mother, as the conversation will go much more smoothly if you are prepared.

When looking for alternative transportation, you need to explore all options – from informal arrangements with relatives and friends, to formal public services.

Of course, alternatives to driving depend largely upon the community you live in, but in most communities there are fun, healthy and economical ways of getting around without a car.

The Hartford offers a fantastic worksheet that can help you assess the various options in your mother's community, including family and friends, mass transit, taxi or car services, and demand-responsive services (also known as "Dial a Ride" programs).

Comment From Bob: Where do elderly parents go when she is nearly broke? Living with us is not an option.

Rob Romasco: Bob, it sounds like you would benefit from information about government-supported housing or any nonprofit/faith-based housing that offers reduced rents.

Check out the Eldercare Locator for help finding the local public housing authority and nonprofit/faith-based housing: eldercare.gov

Next: I take care of my mother, who is a stroke victim. »

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