Planning = Choices

by Jill Francis on July 20th, 2013

My father had friends in their late 70’s who never wanted to come to terms with the fact that she had Alzheimer’s Disease and he had Macular Degeneration.  It was easier to pretend it didn’t exist and to avoid confrontation.  After all, admitting there is a problem means a family needs to take steps to solve the problem and solving that problem may be frustrating, difficult and just plain inconvenient.  Unfortunately for that family, a George State Trooper confronted the problem for them when he stopped Mrs. Alzheimer’s for driving erratically…300 miles from home!  Her husband was with her, and had been for the 6 hours they were in the car, he just couldn’t see where they were going.

Stories like this are becoming more and more common, and with Alzheimer’s Disease becoming the “defining disease of the Boomers”( ), they will only become more prevalent.  Certainly we can’t predict everything that may happen in a loved one’s life, but we can make some basic preparations that will help, and a long-term illness like Alzheimer’s gives a family time to plan.

As I’ve said before, begin by talking.  While parents are in their 50’s, ask about their retirement plans, where they want to live when retirement arrives.  Does that area have good medical facilities?  Have they considered that?  What about a community that has “step-down” or “transitional” care?  Is that something they’d be open to?  Is there a community of active seniors available to them?

Ask the hard questions like “how do you want me to take the keys from you when you’re no longer safe to drive?”  Do you want to go to a nursing home or die at home with Hospice care?  Do you want to live with children and grandchildren in your last days/hours?

PLANNING = CHOICES.  My father’s friends, who unknowingly drove to Georgia, were given no choices about where they would live upon their return to Mississippi.  The family could no longer avoid the fact that Mom and Dad could no longer care for themselves and the children made the decision to place them in an assisted living facility.  And while Mom and Dad were at lunch with one child, the others moved their belongings to their new residence.  The parents had no say and were given no choices for where they would spend their last days.  Perhaps if the family had talked and planned, the outcome would have been different.

PLANNING = CHOICES.  Talk.  Confront.  Ask the hard questions.  Seek legal advice.  Ask for help.  Click on the button “A Place to Start” and follow the steps.  Give the gift of planning and choices.

Posted in Helpful Hints    Tagged with talking, Alzheimer's, end-of-life plainning, Baby boomers, Long-term illness


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