I encourage, I preach, I implore families to plan… Even elderly parents in modest circumstances can get good care and have good options with some planning.
I was the know-it-all, type-A only child… “Move closer to me; I’ll buy you a house.” They were polite. It took SEVEN years for me to figure out that my parents had NO intention of moving from their largely rural area to my big city.
This is when I got smart and started planning for myself… because I knew that one event would trigger change. It’s why I learned about all the facilities and care options near my parents’ home. It’s why I visited the funeral home and told the Director to expect a call one day. It’s why I slipped Mom a card from the funeral director and told her to call them if Daddy passed.
And that is just about the way it happened… me 750 miles away when my father died. Although not surprised, it was still a shock, and I am thankful the plan was in place.
Naturally, my husband assumed my mother would move to Louisville… But, no, the retired caregiver and widow was now enjoying time with family and friends. I told her, “Mom I support your decision to remain where you are. But, you need a plan “B” in case something happens.” Plan B was to get on a wait-list for an apartment for low-income seniors in Jeffersontown. Plan “C” was my spare bedroom.
And we revisited that plan each year… “Oh, I’m fine where I am.” Then, three years after my father’s death, I got a call from an aunt, saying Mom had fallen – it’s nearly always a fall.
The hospital checked her out… and she mentioned a lump in her breast. Then came the diagnosis of breast cancer and the decisions that needed to be made. Should she have the surgery and where and when? I got lucky, her surgeon was a straight-shooter who made time to talk to me, the daughter who lived 750 miles away. She had the surgery. And then we had to decide about chemotherapy. I had no idea cancer could get so complicated.
About this time, an apartment opened up... Should Mom stay where she was or make the move here? I told her again that I would support her decision. She was now ready to move – not easy for an 81-year old.
And the first six months were rough for everyone... It takes time to adjust, from her living alone to being in a community. From doing what I wanted on the weekends to being a caregiver, and no longer a long-distance one. I had to make my circle bigger.
But now, it’s been four years. Mom has friends. We see her on the weekend, when she often stays with us. I learned my mother played basketball in high school. I will tell you my mother is a ball fanatic! So, I guessed she moved to the right place, huh?
Things don’t always go according to plan, but planning gives families more options and peace of mind. I am grateful my planning allows my mother to live in a clean, attractive apartment complex well-run by a mission-oriented organization. And should she need skilled nursing or long-term care, they have a facility nearby.
Please don’t wait to plan – there’s never really a “good time”.
Call Age Transitions today, 502-509-9416 .