by francy Dickinson www.seniorcarewithspirit.com
Dear Francy; My dad passed five years ago and I gave mother my word I would be there to care for her and she would be OK. But in the last couple of years I have had arthritis come into my life. I am really getting crippled up and I know I will not be able to care for mother as I had promised. My heart feels heavy, but I think I have to tell her to make other plans.
When I read your email I just see the love you have and the honorable person you are and I am so sorry you’re facing such a nasty condition with your arthritis. But you know that’s why we have Plans B and C and D and E – because life changes. We may know about and appreciate those that can read crystal balls and see the future, but rarely are we lucky enough to have that knowledge when we make our own plans and promises.
You are not alone. All too many couples will retire and hit the road in an RV. They sell their home, their things and they take off for the sunshine states. They are so happy that no one will dare try to talk them down. Once there they enjoy the life of leisure with new friends and all seems fun until they hit a bump. One of them has health challenges, both of them miss their family and friends, the driving is to hard for them, the RV setup and break out is to much for them. Something happens and then what? Then they have a trailer or RV that has depreciated in value, no home to go back to and no things to set up a household. What do they do- life changes, money and income have lowered since they retired and they are really in a pickle.
My mother sold her large family home and went together with my sister to remodel and build a second story for her to live in over my sisters home. The full amount of money that mother had from her house sale went into the remodel. The deal was my sister would have mother there for the rest of her life, living without charge and that my sister would provide care for mother so she would not have to move into a nursing home unless she was really unwell. For ten years mom and my sister had a ball together. They did hobbies, gardened and shopped together. They had dinners and parties together. They went on small trips together. Good times for both of them until, my sister became unwell and passed very quickly of cancer. Then life hit the windshield when mother found out their agreement of a life-long place for her to live and have care had…turned into my sister’s will of leaving the full house to both of her sons, no provisions for my mother. It was a mistake that cost my mother her peace of mind for the rest of her life. She did stay in the home without further payments because her grandson moved in, but the care part was out the window. It became a daily need of myself or other family to care for her. Until she was unable to live alone and then I had her move in with me. This was no ones fault, just a mistake in the legal agreement and who is ever thinking that they would outlive their daughter?
One of my mother’s best friends had a son just my age. We grew up together really and when his mother started to age she bought him a home right next door to hers so he could be close to care for her. But, he began to drink and do drugs heavily and soon he just wanted money from her. More and more money. He would tell her to write him a check or he would not do the shopping or the whatever it was she needed. She was in lots of trouble with him – welding his power over her. As her only child, he had her power of attorney and her life soon became a prison. We were all heart broken over the situation, yet no one could do anything about it and she soon died of a stroke. Had she known, she would have had a dear cousin take care of her legal side of life, but she loved her son and never thought he would treat her that way. She did not have that crystal ball and it made for a sad ending to a lovely lady.
I have watched these and other sad stories so much that I preach Plan A, B and C all the time. If you can not care for your mom, be honest. It’s certainly not because you do not care for her, you simply are not able to do it. So, make plans. Have her sell her home and move into a retirement apartment that has care provided for it’s residents. Have her hire a young person to come over for two hours a day to do things for her. Be creative with different choices and you will see that its not that bad to change directions in the middle of the path. But if you let it slip and she becomes unwell and all of the changes have to happen when she is not able to deal with them, that is not fair. You may have to make plans for your own personal future as well. Maybe you two will find a place that has assisted living help together! Just know that your decisions and your life path may make changes and as long as you can discuss them, ask others for input and help and know when to call for help instead of ignoring the situation….that is the way loving families handle bumps in life…talking, sharing and taking actions that are well thought out. Plan A has to change to Plan B and later it may move on into Plan C. But without that crystal ball, those plans have to be in place, so the future is as good as it get. Not a sad note to a dear life.
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and please do go and visit my website and get more tips on senior issues and care giving at www.seniorcarewithspirit.com