We moved my grandmother (Mom’s Mom) into an assisted living facility yesterday. It is a beautiful place filled to the brim with Christmas trees, holiday signs, twinkle lights and ornaments, overflowing with warmth and Southern charm. There are always activities for people to enjoy and the delicious smell of the next meal wafts through the hallways.
My mother waited a long time to do this and decided to give it a trial run. After all, how do you know when it’s time? That’s always the question, isn’t it? When is it time to make that choice? Luckily for me, I’m not the child in this situation and it is not my choice to make. That doesn’t exclude me from responsibility, though. What is my role in all of this? How could I possibly contribute anything to a situation that can be scary, and oftentimes, very challenging for a family unit?
A Grandchild’s Role
This holiday season, I’ve decided to dedicate my Advent journey to kindness. I’m all in, baby. My prayer is action through kindness, and I decided that my role yesterday would be to find kindness and spark something there, if not for my Grandmother’s sake, for my own Mother- this woman who raised me and loved me (even when I was 14 which is unimaginable) and never did anything for herself who had to make a choice that led to yesterday’s events. It wasn’t an easy choice to make, because it was a choice for her mother-the mother who raised her and loved her (even when she was 14, which I can only imagine was unimaginable) and never did anything for herself.
What gift could I give to this situation? I’ve found that, when faced with awkward situations, I always overdo it. Whatever it is, I go a bit overboard, and my family is always gracious and pretends that whatever I’ve chosen to do is normal. On this occasion, however, it worked out. I brought lots of holiday decorations for her room and asked her advice as to where we should put things. We sat and visited for a while, and then came back to enjoy lunch with her. My son often enters me into an introvert’s worst nightmare, because he is a conversationalist. This 9-month-old Casanova was quick to flirt with her new home-mates in the dining room, and we had no choice but to be friendly and make some new acquaintances. After a nice visit, we made plans to have dinner and watch a Christmas movie a few days later, and we headed out.
Circumstances like these force parents to consider their own lives and take action to plan for their futures. What choices can I make right now that will prevent my child from having to make this choice for me? When is the right time? Could I afford to put myself into assisted living if I knew it was time? Facilities like these are crucial to elder-care in this country, but they do come at a large cost. The average price of a one-bedroom unit in an assisted-living facility is $3,500/month. Medicare is not designed to pay for long-term care, and until you sell everything you have and become impoverished, you won’t be eligible for Medicaid to help with costs. And let’s be honest here, taking out a loan to put yourself into assisted living just doesn’t make financial sense at that season of life.
There are limitless variables that contribute to our living situation in our winter years, but if I am able to grasp a few of them to lead them in the right direction, I will be doing myself and my children a great service.
Parents, we need to plan. We need to work that plan. We need to not be afraid to discuss how we will be able to afford to spend our later years of our lives. Talk to a financial planner. Obsess over it until you have it down to a ritual. Growing old is a privilege denied to many, and with that privilege comes responsibility.
Parents, we must continue to care for our children even in our old age by planning and taking financial and legal steps to make sure we will be taken care of. We mustmake that choice so that our children don’t have to do it for us.
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