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Posts Tagged ‘Sandwich generation’

When Your Parent Needs A Nursing Home

In behavior, children, domestic life, family, Health, life, Medicine, Money, parenting, women, work on February 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm
The new driveway up to the nursing home.

Image via Wikipedia

Life, as you have known it, is done.

I’ve been facing this sudden reality for about the past two months. My divorced mother, 76, who lives in a very far away city in Canada — I am just north of New York City — now must move into a nursing home. I have someone there sharing power of attorney with me, but even so it has become an unpaid, draining, overwhelming, full-time job demanding almost daily decisions, all of them with major consequences.

None of which are anything I have ever faced before or have a frame of reference for.

I’m the only child.

If you have not yet entered this specific obstacle course, a few things you need to think about:

Does your parent have a will? Do you know where it is and who is the executor?

Have they, in advance, designated a power of attorney?

Do they, or you, have a written inventory of all their belongings and which they might want to keep when they have to trade a home for one room?

What do they want to do with all ephemera — photos, letters, documents? Have you or they sorted through it and identified what is important or of sentimental value? Identified who’s who in the photos?

Who will handle your parent’s affairs financially?

Do they have long-term care insurance? (Do you?)

Have you discussed any of this with your parent?

Do you have anyone, like a geriatric care manager, to help you if you are trying to deal with all of this from a distance?

Here’s what we’ve faced:

She fell in the hospital, breaking her hip in the emergency room

Surgery to repair her hip and months of rehab and physical therapy to regain strength and mobility

Another fall in the hospital, which protested there was no way they could prevent yet another one

Bowel surgery and a colostomy

She has COPD and heart problems as a result

She has early, for now, mild dementia and trouble with short-term memory

The learning curve is vertical!

These are just some of the many people I’ve spoken to in the past three months:

Two nurses, doctors (at least four, so far), physical therapist, occupational therapist, nursing home staff at four homes while seeking a suitable and available bed, hospital social worker, hospital risk manager, attorney, realtor, notary for the buyers for her apartment; auction house coming to appraise and sell her things; Salvation army for picking up the rest, movers to move her into the nursing home, airline (for my flight); car rental (for my visit), UPS (for packing and shipping back here whatever I can take or keep), bank staff to try and arrange handling of her finances…

The only thing keeping me sane is knowing many other women also going through this hell or who have already gone through it, and who kindly offer compassion, humor and advice.

It is a maelstrom of grief, fear, sadness, confusion, anger, frustration, loss. And the cost is staggering — $6,000 a month for one room. Yes, a nursing home room is definitely much cheaper elsewhere, but she is not physically able to move and emotionally would not want to as her friends are in this city.

Have you been through this?

How did you cope?

Nice Girls Finish Last — Financially

In behavior, business, Health, Money, news, parenting, women, work on November 18, 2010 at 1:06 pm
My Grandfather (†); photo from January 17.JPG

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a cheery reminder from a Globe and Mail story — Canada’s national daily — that women are screwed financially in old age if they devote their midlife time and resources, as many now do, to caregiving.

I’ve spent much of my workdays, (which is my only source of income as a freelancer), on the phone and email so far this week dealing with social workers, nurses and lawyers to discuss what happens next to my mother (divorced, few friends) who lives a six-hour flight away in Canada and who is now in the hospital.

It remains to be determined whether she will be able to return to living alone in her home.

As her only child, I can’t turn to anyone but my partner for help. We’re lucky she gets as much free government-supplied help and health care as she already does.

Another friend my age, a woman who is also a writer, devotes many hours every week cooking and caring for her in-laws. Her two sons, looking for work, are back at home.

We’re both very fortunate in having husbands and partners who earn a decent wage and, while our labor is necessary to the family income, it is not the primary or exclusive one.

(This lowered family income does not come without conflict. I could certainly earn more and spend less if I ignored my mother’s complicated needs.)

Every hour and dollar spent, lovingly or not, devoted to the care and needs of others is wage-earning (or re-charging) time lost to oneself or one’s other current and future financial needs.

The less money women earn (and we out-live men, statistically which means we need to earn, save and invest even more than men while typically working fewer years and earning less), the poorer our old age will be.

Caregiving often means financial disaster for the person giving it.

To whom does your duty lie?

What if your parent(s) were neglectful or abusive? Made lousy choices financially and with their health, and now, as a result of those choices, need (your) help to survive?

Too many of us are struggling in a terrible economy, with little or no leeway for our own needs, now and in the future.

What’s the answer?

Turn your back on your aging parents and/or your needy adult children?

Just say no?

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