Dinner Conversations – Aging Parents, Assisted Living, Getting “That Call”
|August 1, 2013||Posted by Marcia Mantell under Boomers in Action|
Cate and I hadn’t had a chance to get together for 2 years, so we had much to catch up between jobs, families, travel and such. Just a few minutes into our catch up, Cate mentioned that she had spent the majority of last year helping her in-laws move into an assisted living facility. Her mother-in-law is in her mid-80’s, had fallen and was slow to recover. Her father-in-law, now in his late 80’s, needed more help with daily living activities. They had been living in Florida, but their children live in Maine. The collective family decided to relocate Mom and Dad back to Maine, into a lovely new place that had services both parents now need. Cate and her husband, lagging-edge Boomers in their late 40s, took the lead in logistics: selling the home in Florida and packing up their personal belongings. They spent countless hours and much of their vacation time getting Mom and Dad settled into their new home. It was a shock to jump into the role of a hands-on care-arranger for aging parents.
The next day, I had lunch with Sue, also a lagging-edge boomer, and the mother of a middle-schooler and high school freshman.. We talked for a while about our kids, but once again, the conversation quickly moved to aging parents. Her parents, both in their late 70s, are suffering from health issues. Sue has been attending meetings with her parents and their financial advisor, as they are trying to address the increasing financial needs that have come up quickly. As a result of these meetings, Sue found out that her dad was the only one managing the money and the investments…her mom is not interested. Sue asked her mom how she was planning to handle financial matters when her dad could no longer do so. Mom said that Sue would just take over that responsibility. That was quite a surprise! Sue is busy enough raising her own family, running her own business and managing her own money. It was a bit overwhelming to step in and take over another household. Just how are we Boomers supposed to “cross the line” into personal finances with our parents?
Later that evening I had dinner with a girlfriend in town. It’s just been a couple of months since we last got together. She and her husband were in California recently when they got “the call.” Robin’s 88-year old dad had fallen ill and was rushed to the hospital with a severe case of pneumonia. He was stable and she was assured that she did not have to rush right back. Once she returned home, she immediately jumped into action with her sister. Dad’s condition was improving, but he could not live unassisted. Her mom was not able to handle the care needs for herself or Robin’s dad. So, Robin had a crash course in the state-run Medicaid system and all of the requirements needed for her parents. Within 3 weeks, she dealt with medical staff at all levels, was an advocate for her parents, found an assisted living home where both parents could stay together and celebrate their 61st anniversary, and was granted durable power of attorney over her parent’s financial and health care decisions. A huge effort for this lagging-edge Boomer who one minute was planning her retirement with her husband, and the next minute responding to that call that she needed to plan the rest of her parent’s retirement.
Just a year ago, none of these topics would have been part of my conversations girlfriends. We would have been discussing our careers, how long we wanted to work, what our kids were doing, where we were going on vacation. Dealing with our aging parents and the realities of their retirements had not become part of the conversation. Until now. Once it starts, the reality is that it won’t end.