My definition of a hero is simple: Someone who puts the good of others before their own well-being. A hero is someone who serves others, who gives without wanting or accepting anything in return. We often think of sports stars as heroes.

We sometimes use this over-used and misunderstood word, “hero” in ways that deepen cliches and bore the living hell out of us. Comic Book characters are fictional. They are not heroes in the real sense.

cheerful middle aged woman embracing disabled senior mother outdoors

Someone who cares for the elderly is a hero. If he or she gives precious time, love and emotional support to an aging parent he/she is a great child. If one gives this to a stranger, they are an excellent member of our community.

Both are heroes in my book.

I have a friend named George who never married. George spent his life working, teaching, traveling and caring for his mother Esther, who passed away at the tender age of 98 two years ago. George moved his mother into his home when she was too old to be left alone. He dutifully watched over her medical needs and made sure she lived in comfort, peace, and with excellent medical care from nurses.

George is my definition of a hero.

Elder care is one of those difficult subjects that leaves many people uncomfortable and others fleeing for the exits when the subject comes up. It is amazing to see the excuses children find to avoid caring or contributing to care for their parents.

It is estimated that elder care costs exceed $2 Billion annually and $72,000 per person each year in the United States alone.

This is where families may find help through the right resources in their community. Between navigating the vagaries and legalities of insurance, nursing care, physical therapy and other wills, it is a good idea to seek out an elder care attorney.

Mark Shalloway, an elder and special needs care lawyer in West Palm Beach, provides some insight into what families face as their parents age:

In my experience, the families that plan ahead minimize the emotional and financial cost of caring for their aging mom, dad or loved one. It’s important to remember that as one approaches middle age and if one is fortunate enough to still have his or her parents, the prospect of elder care is something that cannot be avoided. 

With different cultures and different phases of life come different expectations as to what constitutes elder care in particular and in quality. Whatever the path a family chooses it is always wise to plan ahead with all of the financial and legal considerations.

The real everyday heroes are the quite care-givers of our elderly, the forgotten and often silent members of our community!