• If someone had asked me this question ten years ago I definitely wouldn’t have thought about it. I wouldn’t have wanted to.

    Ten years ago my parents were in their late 50’s, and in the midst of a divorce. My mom was living on her own for the first time in her life, and having more and more difficulty taking care of herself.

    I was just starting my career, and every few weeks I’d have to rush out of work and across the river from Washington, DC to Arlington, VA to coax her down from some crisis. I was drained and exhausted, frustrated and resentful.

    As her physical and mental health deteriorated we’d offered her second bedroom free in exchange for part time caregiving. It was clear this was not a sustainable solution, so I’d started researching assisted living facilities. Meanwhile, my sister was trying to get her head around my mom’s finances – another full time job.

    In the midst of all this, we were navigating new relationships with our parents as individual beings, and with ourselves and each other as adults and caregivers (though we were not yet familiar with that term).

    We also had two living grandparents: my paternal grandmother, deeply entrenched in dementia at a nursing home in DC, and my maternal grandfather, suffering from late stage cancer in Boston.

    Fast forward ten years. All grandparents are long gone. My mom is settled in a nursing home in Rockville, MD, where she has been for close to five years. In the five years before that she was catapulted through five different assisted and group living facilities, none of which could handle her particular combination of physical and mental illness.

    Throughout that process my sister and I had a crash course in elder law, senior housing, financial and care management, and the complicated interplay between these fields and industries – not to mention the emotional turmoil of what I’ve come to call ‘early onset caregiving.’

    Much of the turmoil we experienced could have been avoided if we’d had any idea what was coming around the corner. In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine that we didn’t stop and ask ourselves the obvious questions: Mom can’t take care of herself. What is this going to mean? Where is she going to live? How will she be cared for, and how are we going to pay for it? Who is going to be responsible for what? What can we do now to preserve resources and maximize options?

    But we were just trying to get through the day, the week, the month.

    We’re asking you to start thinking about these questions now so you can avoid the avoidable, and make the best of the resources available to you. Start by picking a topic and answering the questions here. And let us know what you think here.

    Thank you!

    This entry was posted on Sunday, June 9th, 2013 at 5:22 pm and is filed under Communication & Planning. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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