David’s family includes his three children, ages 3, 6 and 9, and his wife, Margaret. Three years ago, their home added another family member–Mae, Margaret’s 62-year-old mother. After Mae’s stroke, Margaret wanted her mother to be with them.
So she has.
It hasn’t been easy. On his way home from work, David often will wonder what he’ll find when he walks through the front door. Will his wife be in tears because of too much to do and not enough hands to do it? Will he found silence due to angry words shared between Mae and Margaret?
He wouldn’t wish a stroke on any individual. He also wouldn’t wish it on any family. These past three years have shown him that the family is the hub of the health care system. It was Margaret who insisted Mae switch medications–knowing that her mom’s agitation wasn’t because of dementia but because of a change in the medication regime. It was Margaret who found the home care agency, ordered the home care supplies, keeps the medications straight. David truly believes that it’s Margaret who keeps Mae going.
The first three years seemed like constant chaos. The adjustment to the schedules, the nigh-time care needs, the unexpected medical crises put both David and Margaret on auto-pilot. Just recently, David feels like has settled down enough to accept he’ll find the remnants of a good day or a bad day when he arrives home from work. He now understands not to over-react to the bad days and to truly rejoice when a day brings only a few bumps.
With his stress under control, David now begins to think about his own parent’s long-term care. He now sees it’s never to early to think about the future–Mae’s stroke was completely unexpected at her age. David also understands he’ll step in to take care of his parents, just as Margaret has done for her mom.
He would like to prepare for that possibility with his parents. He saw how hard it was with Mae without understanding how much money she had and what resources she had to pay for care. He decides the best action he can take now is to talk with his parents about what they can all do in case the unthinkable happens.
He begins to research how to talk with his parents. He wants to understand future long term care costs so he can create some projections. He finds himself exploring articles and resources on long term care planning, such as this recent NPR article, “Planning for a Future That Includes Aging Parents,” and videos like this one from Genworth Financial.
And, as he thinks what his parents need, he can’t help but think of what he and his wife need. After speaking with his parents about their options for long-term care, he sits down with wife. He simply asks, “How can we prepare if something like what’s happened to your mother has happened to us?”
He understands planning for the future will take many conversations with his parents and with his wife. He’s grateful he has the time for both.