This is one of those, not so fun topics. However, I’m not having any fun, so here we go.
If you are my age or older, even before actually, 50’s, 60’s and I’d say no later than 70’s. Please consider this.
Sit down very soon with your kids and have the conversation about what happens when the body and the mind start to fail. And this can be a two way conversation. It can happen to the kids too.
Have a will, a Power of Attorney and be sure that the POA and all of your financial holdings play nice together. Actually, I’m not sure that’s really possible. Anyway, this means you may need to update them on a regular basis. How does the POA work when all of a sudden you are incapacitated or worse, you and your “agent” mirror declining cognition and your alternate has to pay the bills or make decisions.
And, don’t forget the Health Care Directive. (I guess those are still honored? (Unless SCOTUS finishes their path of personal destruction of individual freedoms).
If you or your partner get a diagnosis of any thing closely resembling Dementia, or any cognitive issue, start right then and there to find a place that can care for you until end of life. House or apartment, to assisted living, to nursing home, to memory care, etc. AND MOVE! And do it within a year. Do not wait.
Know and recognize that the pace of Dementia is not up to you. You have no control over how quickly you or your partner will no longer know simple things like, how to use a phone, address, what day it is, where they are or how long an hour is.
Make these decision together and before they have to be done alone, by the kid or someone else for you. And DO NOT AVOID it! Live in reality. And if you live to be 120 and have no issues, you’ll still have a place to live and do whatever the hell you want when you want to do it!
While this is me saying this, and I know there are lots of thoughts about this, there is no shame in admitting the inevitable. When you sleep, eat, watch TV, sleep again, what does it matter where you do that? If you travel, well you can travel from anywhere! For me the shame and guilt is what I had to do in May.
My parents 10 years ago did make a decision to move to a house in a community that essentially has several levels of service, homes to end of life care. What they didn’t do was make the last decision for themselves while they could have. I will say, not that I didn’t try to make that happen. One thinking the other was worse off, when all along they were declining just as quickly together. They may be smart, or clever, but the brain is unforgiving. Be direct and ask tough questions. Especially if you aren’t there in person to see or watch what is happening. The brain is in charge and will take its course as it chooses. No shame, no guilt, just what it wants to do.
If you don’t do this, then prepare the kids(or yourself) for days, weeks and potentially months of guilt and being talked to like they are a scammer or a criminal when they are just tying to take care of you and get what is rightfully due you that can be verified by the facility they are in or the doctor you’ve provided to them to verify. Or worse yet, not being able to find a nice, clean place to care for you. I’m calling this, prancing through the dog and pony show…biting my tongue all the way. Hoop after hoop after hoop.
Be careful how you handle bank accounts, retirement accounts. Any action there, depending on how you are listed on an account, they say, will be perceived as a gift it you try to do things, like request a live check to be direct deposited. That would look like a gift…cause it’s all a huge f*cking gift!
I know some will say, I got this. It’s all under control. I’m going to say, no it’s not. No you won’t. Take care of it yourself and your kids when you can, NOW.
There is nothing that I know that prepares you for or helps you through any of this. To my knowledge, there is no one source that you can go to who can offer you, step, 1,2,3,4,5… And I have to say why not?
Where my parents are is okay. I am sure there are nicer places and certainly worse. But my question, why do they not have an advocate there who could help me through each step? Have a list of resources to point me in the right direction to ensure they have everything they need and deserve. I signed a lot of papers, but none of it was, now here are the things you will need or want to do, this insurance, this form, that form, this agency, this legal aspect, how this bill gets paid, how this claim gets filed. I am flying blind and further, deeper into a space that makes me just want to turn it all off and run away.
Yes, there is Elder Law. I’m now on that path, but they don’t cover it all. It’s not inclusive. That I can tell.
Be kind to yourself and to those who will have to take care of things for you.
P.S. beware of the address change via USPS. Somehow…I do not know how yet, but those non-profit, bulk mailings that are received, the ones that come with the labels, note pads, dollars, magnets, stickers and calendars, they somehow get the new address from somewhere and will now be sending your kids or who ever is getting your first class mail ALL of that! Not forwarded, sent directly to them and your address!
Three days of mail. THREE!! All non-profit asking for money. Thanks Mom…