Fabgrandpa and I have lived a great life–we have traveled the United States in our RV for going on twelve years, and lived in some of the most beautiful places in the country. Along the way, we have met many other couples just like us, and singles too, who have shrugged off the strings that bound us to one place in favor of the gypsy lifestyle. We always knew, though, that “someday” we would buy a small house and have a place to park our trailer. We have planned for this from the moment we signed the sales contract on our very first RV.
Another thing we have often talked about has been the question of what we would do if either one of us needed long term care. This has been more in the forefront of our minds lately because while we are relatively healthy, we each still have our parents to think about. His Mom and Dad are both still living. Last year, his mother fell and broke her hip, and wound up in a rehabilitation facility for about three months, after spending a couple of weeks in the hospital. She needed more intensive care than her elderly husband could provide, but less than what she would receive in a hospital. And all of their children live more than a hundred miles away. The facility she was in was very nice. It made it possible for her to get her daily physical therapy, and to get to the point where she could get herself around in a wheelchair before going home.But having the broken hip, combined with an arthritic knee that needs to be replaced, peripheral neuropathy and a pacemaker makes it very difficult for her to get around.
My own mother, who is 84, has been having trouble lately with her legs and feet. She also has peripheral neuropathy , which makes it difficult to walk or stand for very long. Her eyesight is getting worse–she needs to have corneal transplants. Her eye doctor won’t even write a prescription for new glasses because he says glasses won’t help until after she has surgery. And for the last three or four years, whenever she has exerted herself enough to prepare Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, she has wound up in the emergency room the next day. She has been living alone since the death of my father in 1992, and has always been a very independent woman. It is very hard to see her get to the point where she needs help with the most ordinary things, like cleaning her house or decorating her Christmas tree. She voluntarily gave up the keys to her car a few years ago, and depends on my sister to take her everywhere she needs to go.
While we as the “children” in this scenario are thinking about our own future needs for paying for long term care, it is so difficult to even think about when it will be time to have a talk with our parents about what to do about long term care for them. It is hard to have to make decisions that affect someone else’s life. When is the right time to discuss something like this? Do you wait for your parents to say they need help, or do you step in and make a decision for them? No matter who brings it up or when, how do you decide what is the best thing to do? Do you or your parents have long term care insurance? Would having long term care insurance make the decisions any easier to make?