The iPhone image came in shaky until the caregiver held the phone steady. I saw my Aunt and Uncle looking back at me looking startled. This was their first experience with Facetime. He’s 94 with memory loss. She’s 88 in at-home hospice care. I was shocked at how much they aged since I last saw them 7 months ago.
It seemed, in a flash, they are old and challenged with health issues. They have no real aging plan. My sister and I begged them, years ago, to move close to us in Florida. My Uncle was adamantly against that! “It’s too hot there! We love changing of the season here!” he barked. They live in rural New York.
We asked if they had a will, power of attorney, DNR’s, health care proxies, and a way of us knowing what they wanted at the end of their lives. “I guess you two will have to go on a treasure hunt to find that” my Uncle quipped. We still don’t see the humor.
Now, as I type this, my Uncle lies in a hospital, sedated. He fell and seriously broke his ankle. He had a stroke. He’s not doing well. He has no DNR, no long-term health insurance, no excess major medical, no plan for his death other than buying two cemeteries lots. However, there’s no provision with a funeral home or any directives as to what he wants.
My Aunt is at home in Hospice care. She’s now 73 pounds. Most of the time, she’s bedridden with an oxygen tank nearby. Hospice caretakers visit a few times but not 24 hours a day! My Aunt did take long-term health insurance. (That took my sister two months to get into action!) However, she’s only able to get paid care 6 hours a day!
My sister and I have been working daily to try and get more help, more info, more care for both of them. It’s been a nightmare that doesn’t seem to end.
They are childfree. They have no extended family living nearby. All their friends died. All their known neighbors moved away.
That’s why I’m writing this for you. No matter what your age is, now is the time to think rationally and start planning for your own aging. Find a good financial planner. Get those legal forms done with an attorney. Shop around for pricing. We found one, through references of people we trust, whose pricing was way below other attorneys. She did a fabulous job! Then, be sure to give those plans to someone who will be helping later or when you need it.
Ask those you have heart connections with if they made plans and if they will share them with you. It never should be a “treasure hunt”. It’s called caring and respect for you if you’re the designated person who will be responsible.
As childfree people, we need to find people we love and respect. It may not necessarily be with our birth family members! I made many intense heart connections with younger people. One is a young woman I met in her 20’s at a woman’s’ meet up. She’s now 33 and a part of our life. She’s what we consider to be a “daughter-friend”. When Covid first hit, she came and food shopped for us! She lives in the next town. She’s from another country without any family members here. We are her family and she’s in ours. We never want her to be burdened with our end- of- life wishes. However, it’s important there’s someone who has those wishes known!
Where can you find these younger people? Now that Covid may be over, in your life experiences. There are so many darling younger people in need of your love. Try seeking out and having a strong heart connection with younger nieces or nephews if you are not estranged as I am. Co-workers may be young and love having their friendships outside of work. Religious and political organizations have many younger people in need. Of course, it takes authentic caring to get authentic caring back.
Get a reputable financial planner as we have. We meet him twice a year. We have terrific insurance, a trust fund, and a DNR. Health care proxies and cremations are paid in full. It was paid down over decades.
Now that our Uncle is in the hospital, it’s his wife, our Aunt, that needs so much care. She’s old school. “I don’t want anyone living here! They may steal things!” Her other refrain is about the money she has sitting in the bank. “What? How much is 24-hour care? I don’t have that money! I live on social security!” My aunt has thousands of dollars in a bank account. Their house is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars! When I tried to tell her that, she barked, “That money is for old age!” SIGH. Hospice staff keeps trying to get her to see she’s dying. She’s stuck in anger and far from acceptance!
If my Aunt and Uncle had given us their title to their house and paid down their money so they really did have to live on their social security, here, in America, they would be entitled to Medicaid where awful expenses would be taken care of. Now, it’s too late!
The goal of this article was to make sure our childfree family started thinking right now, about what they want and how they need to get it. Sadly, we lost two young women in the prime of their lives in their 30’s. Nobody knows what the future may hold but please, CF dear hearts, be responsible now before it’s too late.