Many years ago one of my friends lived through the experience of placing both of her parents into an assisted living facility a thousand miles away. I listened to her and learned from her experience as year stretched into year. I studied the problems of care from many angles as my clients and I addressed the projected cost of care when they would no longer be able to care for themselves.
We all know that the expense of aging will hit each of our families, yet we are ill prepared when the reality strikes. The real question seems to be, “will we ever truly be prepared for the inevitable?”
Watching, listening, studying, nothing truly prepares us for the complexity of the issues that accompany the real experience of extended care. The financial and emotional pieces of the issue are far more complex than we can even imagine. There is no template for action and, much like raising children, we do the best we can with the greatest of intentions. Each situation has its own special nuances and no two situations should be treated the same as they truly are not.
When the time came to address care in our family I was fortunate to have resources far beyond others in my situation. Clients and friends provided ideas and experiences. Most importantly, I was lucky enough to find a couple of individuals with whom I could share my concerns. Each of us was at a different stage of the care continuum and each of us truly wanted to hear what the others wanted to share. Each of our situations provided different challenges, yet there was enough commonality that we could benefit from the others’ experiences. At the same time we joined a support group where we shared experiences and received advice from others walking in our shoes.
In the end, each of our situations worked out in its own way and everyone has survived the emotional upheaval that came with the experience. We are all the wiser for what we went through and our appreciation of what the need for care can be and what the cost of care often is makes us resources when others enter the world we just passed through.
This weekend is the unofficial kick-off of the summer and we will barbeque and gather to share time and to make memories. It is a time to remember those we loved and a time to spend with those we love. The challenges of aging cannot be prevented, but we can revel in the joy of family and friends while life is sweet. Let us relish the good times and extend them as long as possible by caring for our health, our diet and our stress levels. Do know that we will be here whenever you are ready to discuss the complex decisions that will need to be made relative to your future care.