As you know by now, my Mom died on September 3. And my Dad’s now in hospice. So I’m about to experience a double shot to the caregiver’s gut.
It’s been a learning experience, to say the least. I’ve learned what I’d do the same, if I had it to do all over again. And I’ve learned what I’d do differently.
First of all, I had no idea my parents would live so long…my Mom was 90, and my Dad’s 91!
But they had bought only three years’ worth of long-term care. Had I known then what I know now, I would have told them they needed more…a lot more!
For their generation, my parents lived a long time. And for the current generations of younger seniors and Baby Boomers, the lessons are right there in front of their noses. PEOPLE ARE LIVING LONGER THAN EVER. OFTEN, THEY’RE LIVING WITH INCAPACITATING CONDITIONS. SO YOU’D BETTER HAVE ENOUGH LONG-TERM CARE PROTECTION!
I’ve learned that, if you can afford the monthly payments for lifetime protection…get it! Because you can’t put a time limit on illness. And you can’t put a time limit on the aging process.
I’ve learned that I should have gotten my parents policies with inflation riders, because long-term care doesn’t cost the same in 2012 that it did in 2000. And it sure as heck won’t cost the same in 2020 as it does in 2012.
In addition, I’d tell my fellow Boomers that it’s better to be a little early than a little late; once you’ve been diagnosed with an illness, it’s too late to get a long-term care policy! ( I’d also tell boomers to get into my office asap so they don’t burden their children with their long term care isues. )
Another thing I might do differently – and this is very personal – I would stop feeling badly that my brother didn’t spend more time with my parents in their end-days. My brother lives in New York. But he’s retired, and able to travel. However, as I mentioned in my last blog, our father could be a difficult man…and my brother isn’t spending much time with him. Sadly, my father’s now reaping what he sowed.
However, I would share more of the details about what’s going on with my brother; I didn’t really share with him about our mother. I should have, because he should have been aware of what I was going through. And, if I had it to do over again, whenever he started giving me advice about what I should or shouldn’t do, I’d tell him that I’d welcome his advice – if he wanted to become more involved in their care.
In my career, I’ve seen too many out-of-town siblings telling the local (caregiving) siblings what they should be doing. It’s easy to give advice from a thousand miles away. But, since the out-of-town siblings don’t really see what’s happening on a day-to-day basis, I believe they should probably listen more than talk. And appreciate what the caregiver provides even if they are not living with the parents on day to day basis.
If I had it to do all over again, I’d magically move my parents closer than a 50-minute round-trip. With an active law practice and a demanding caregiver role, it would have made things much easier for me.
All of this, of course, is hindsight. And hindsight is always 20/20. None of us can predict the future. Who would have guessed, for example, that I couldn’t sell my house now even if I wanted to?
NEXT BLOG: WHAT I DID RIGHT
My Mom and Dad, Part 5: What I’d Do Differently