Today’s LivHOME guest blog comes from Yvonne Baginski a writer at borntoage.com. She is here to tell you about how to planning for aging with your loved ones.
My mother turned 80 last month, and proudly announced to all of us that she was going to live until 87. She just knew it.
Last week she was officially diagnosed, by her doctor and a battery of neurologists, with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s Disease.
It was news she didn’t want to hear, but something we all realized about five years ago when the first signs of memory loss started to creep into our weekly phone conversations.
My mother never planned to become old, and she certainly would have been horrified to learn that it would be further complicated by complete cognitive decline. She is educated, a former teacher, a prolific poet, a crossword puzzle queen who fenced with words in seven different languages. Today, she grapples with finding the noun that describes the machine that flies in the sky.
For years, we have begged her to move to California to live closer to all three of her children. Stubbornly independent, mother has promised that “one day, I might, you never know.”
Well, now we know she never will.
There were no plans for aging, so now her children have to make them, and she is fighting us every step of the way. So, when we brought in home care, she refused to let the caregivers in the house. When a geriatric care manager was hired, mother continually cancelled the appointment. The doctors told her she could no longer drive, use a stove, or handle her finances on her own. Arguing, denying and bargaining with every avenue of support, she is adamant that others have caused her condition, on purpose, to take away all her money.
Mother scraped and saved every penny she ever earned. She was a bargain hunter, a sales queen and took pride in filling her home with items that were such incredible deals that she couldn’t walk away. The very consideration that her savings would one day go to pay for 24-hour home care, at $10,000 a month, was never on her horizon.
Now it’s on ours. All of the decisions that mother refused to consider or make in her lifetime, have now fallen on the shoulders of her three children…all who live in California. Mother lives in Michigan.
It is too late for reasonable discussions, developing legal paperwork, finding preferences and determining her wishes for end of life care. She has no insight or ability to give us any clue and now, with her overall paranoia and suspicion, any talk of what we are truly facing is totally off limits. All she says is, “leave me alone and I can just die at home.”
That’s the language of anger, pain and denial.
If have read this far, take a moment to think about your own preferences and plans for aging over time. I’m 57, and have completed a Trust, a Power of Attorney, and and Advanced Directive. I have talked with my children about how I want to live as I get older. And, I have set aside money to make that happen. They laugh now at my insistence that they know…thinking that I’m still young and have plenty of time. But, I know how fast time goes, and that if my mind starts to go, I might also become angry, paranoid and defensive , like my mother is now.
As a publisher of Born to Age, the Senior Care Directories for Napa, Solano, Contra Costa, Alameda and Marin/Sonoma Counties, I have put together a comprehensive source of information for planning and deciding care choices over time. It’s a place to start. The directories are free, available online at www.borntoage.com, or can be ordered by sending me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Growing old is not the same for everyone. And, we don’t always get what we wish for regarding time, health or opportunity. But we can make our plans and hope for the love and support of our families and friends until the very end. Because there is no doubt that one day we will no longer be here, and our legacy and memories are all we are leaving behind.