Category Archives: only child of aging parents

Longterm Care Insurance?

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“Many baby boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, are expected to fall so far into poverty trying to provide themselves with paid care that they will qualify for Medicaid — the medical care for the deeply impoverished.” … from an NPR special series, Family Matters.

Well that’s pretty dismal.

My husband and I fall right in the middle of the boomer timeline. We’re at our peak, career-wise, activity-wise, and probably health-wise. We’re just now getting around to actually doing things that we’ve been talking about doing for years. Fun things. Things that people better do before the odds of good physicality and mentality aren’t in their favor. It’s hard to ignore the ticking clock as key birthdays come and go faster and faster each year.

Since we’re just now getting around to the fun things we have also decided to address the elephant in the room that is our AARP eligibility status. Neither of us is a member although I have played one on TV. (I really did … I had a fleeting appearance in an AARP commercial once … best paying gig I ever had.) By addressing the elephant we acknowledged that it’s likely we’ll live long enough to need someone else to take care of us. And with that acknowledgment we decided we didn’t want that “someone else” to be either of our sons; not that they’re not great and caring human beings.

My parents had long-term care insurance before anybody ever heard of long-term care insurance. My daddy was quite the planner. He died before he ever needed the insurance, but it was there and it was a comfort to him. My mother still has hers and it’s likely she’ll need it. There’s no telling how much money they have spent over 30 years of paying the premiums. I guess I could do the math but I’d rather not.

My aunt and uncle were amused that my parents were insured for so long and they would chuckle when the topic came up in conversation over the years. My gentle aunt would quietly say, “If the day comes when I need a nursing home, Charles will just have to take me out in the yard and shoot me.” And they would all just laugh and have a good time. It was my aunt who could’ve used the insurance the most, as she, and her beleaguered family, battled her Alzeimer’s for over a decade. But she couldn’t have known that the odds were going to be against her.

So it was last year that my husband and I decided to bite the bullet and buy the insurance. It’s expensive but I’ve tried to soften the blow when the premiums are due, his quarterly, mine twice a year, by setting aside money every month. I know we’re fortunate to be able to buy the insurance; hopefully our minds and bodies will hold out for a long time and we’ll be fortunate enough to not need it too much.

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Maybe Next Year

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The wound is too fresh. Healing takes time, I guess. It’s been six months.

Images of fathers dominate social media this weekend. It’s difficult to look too closely at pictures of my friends’ fathers, those departed and those still celebrating life. It’s easier to not look, to take a break from Facebook for the weekend.

I knew this day would come, just as other difficult days will come – his birthday, their anniversary, Christmas. I had my daddy for 56 years and for that I am so very grateful, but I can’t talk about him this Father’s Day. My throat constricts and tears pool.

There will be a time when I’ll write about my father because he was quite a guy – a loving husband to my mother and a true friend to his friends. But I’ll not write this weekend, because he was my daddy. And he’s not here anymore.

Just Thinking …

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There is something like a bubble, a time of limbo, for families who have lost someone close. The time between the death of that person and a funeral sort of stands still. Much is going on, for sure, as plans have to be made and friends and family have to be notified. But it’s sort of surreal for those closest to the departed. Our lives stand still, on the inside, and we wonder how everyone else in the world keeps going about their business when our world has just changed forever.

My elderly aunt has died peacefully. My uncle died almost a year ago to the day, in the same hospice facility as she. My cousins were with each of them when they passed on. He became ill and died rather quickly. She took her time. The meanest of diseases, Alzheimers, had taken her recollection of her children a decade ago.

The loss of a child or younger person brings a kind of life-raping grief that I can’t imagine is ever consolable. My aunt’s slow and steady passing still leaves her family grieving, for sure. But they can be consoled, she had a long life, and for a few days they’re in this bubble – the in between time – until there is closure.

This is my Mother

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The last time I put pen to paper was in December of last year. I wrote my father’s obituary. Since then I’ve been left with some sort of creative block. Words swirl in my mind but I can’t get them on paper. I’ve tried my hand at art, paints and such, even taking an online art class. But I don’t think art is my “art.” I think words are my art and this blog post is my feeble and fearful attempt to practice my art.

Mother’s Day is tomorrow and I’d like to give my mom a big shout out because she’s been through a lot over the past months. She’s lost a sister, a brother, a brother-in-law, her husband, and as I write this, she’s watching and waiting as her sister-in-law, in hospice, is making the journey to join all these who have passed. She deserves that shout out if for no other reason than she’s left with only me.

She’s a petite person but carries herself tall; she has her ailments but never complains. She is determined to manage, on her own, the “business” of settling my father’s estate. And she is doing it. She misses my daddy but only cries when no one else is around. She is brave, unafraid to live alone. She is kind, compelled to reach out to a neighbor whose husband has been imprisoned. She is a good friend and her friends love her. She is wise. At times she says things that sound a little ditzy and I look at her sideways, praying, please don’t let this be the onset of dementia … or worse. But then I look at her again and she’s at 110 percent, all cylinders firing, and she’s saying things that are true and real.

Years before my father’s death, as his health was failing, she never ventured far from home, telling me that he was her priority. He was a lucky man. Now, I feel that she is my priority, after all, there is no one else, I am an only child, I’m all she’s got. I call her a lot. I visit frequently. I watch her carefully. As I observe her, there are many times that I feel she is adjusting better than I am. She is going forward with the rest of her life. I am stuck in neutral. She noticed this the last time I was with her. She said, “Pat, do what you want to do. I am going to be fine. And for goodness sake, start wearing your good jewelry!”

I believe I mentioned she is wise.

10 Day Challenge – A Look Back

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I did it.
I challenged myself to pick a thing, anything … just something, and do it for 10 days in a row.
I picked cake.

In the middle of my 10 day challenge my mother called. She has a pattern – if I haven’t called her in 5 -7 business days she will call me.

“Just want to check in … see how y’all are doing … Daddy and I are fine …”
Then, “What have you been up to?”
She knows I’ve been up to something because I haven’t called her lately.

pause … “I’ve been baking pound cakes ”
silence … then, “Ok … why are you doing this?”

Rather than even begin to attempt to explain the search for my missing mojo to my 80 year old mother I tell her I’m taking them to shut-ins.

… pause … she’s thinking …

“Well, Pat, I just think that is so nice!”

Suddenly its a-ok that I haven’t called! I’m doing something worthy!
The cloud of guilt I felt suddenly parted and there appeared not only sunshine but a great big rainbow!! I can hear her explaining to my daddy, “She hasn’t “not called”. She’s been busy!”

She called again a couple of days later. “I just think it is so nice, Pat, that you are making those pound cakes for shut-ins.”

Truth be told, I don’t know many shut-ins. But I did bake pound cakes and I did give them away. I gave myself a challenge and I proved to be up to it.
And in the meantime it made my mother very happy.