The IDEA Series: A Window of Time

The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.

~Bertrand Russell

 

The IDEA Series

On occasion I receive a thoughtful post from a visitor to aginginplace.com; this is one of those…So heartfelt are these thoughts, I wanted to share them in The IDEAS Series. This is a compelling story of a caring son who’s experience is all too common in this time of life. His is a cautionary tale of perhaps waiting too long–but loving deeply enough to live with the consequences.

Message:

Aging in Place is a fine idea and I completely support it – until it isn’t a good idea, and when it isn’t, it may create real problems, especially for our children.  I know this from personal experience.  My mother was 73 when my dad died.  She was strong, healthy, engaged in church and community, and she continued to live – by herself – in the family home.  The years went by and she gradually declined physically, but we, her children, did all the things necessary for her to remain in her home – accessible bathroom,  grab bars and rails, ramps, help with transportation and shopping, etc. etc.  Now 97, she is still healthy, with some mild memory and balance issues, and still in her own home.  But now she needs constant, around the clock care to be dressed, showered, fed, safe and not feel alone at the end.  She is too old to move to assisted living – it would likely be the end for her, and it would be against her wishes, which we’re not about to do. And as you know, Social Security has in-home caregiver benefits only for skilled nursing, and most seniors simply can’t afford to pay for care out of pocket, so that means children take on that responsibility. So her children have taken on the responsibility for her care – I drive ten hours from my home every other month and stay a month, and my sisters leave their families to help out.

My experience has taught me that there is a window of time during which an Elder can – and should – leave her home for a situation that will provide her the services and support she needs all the way to the end.  If we don’t move during that window, well, I am living with the consequences.  And as much as I love my mother, I’m not about to pass this on to my children.  So, while you are providing us with all the tools for aging in place, I would hope you would use some of our Elder wisdom to address the question of  planning for and knowing when it is time to leave our homes, and what kinds of new arrangements we can create to nurture and support us in our final years.  I think Elder owned and staffed group homes  – Elders caring for Elders – is an exciting idea, one that leaves Elders in charge of our lives, provides us with companionship, and perhaps most importantly, brings real meaning to our final years, as we help each other in the grand experience of conscious dying.

Many blessings, and thank you for your work.

Charlie Landman

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To respectfully contact Mr Landman to share your own experience or comment on his post: ctlandman@gmail.com

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