Aging Creeps Up On You

We are all so very busy. We go to school. We get a job. We may purchase a house, start having a family and go about our business of “living”. During the course of living we deal with all the ups and downs and support our loved ones along the way. Aging happens and it creeps up on you. Aging is often accompanied by some changes in how we go about our daily routine and living. Then for some, one day everything changes and we find ourselves with huge “needs”. We are paralyzed in how we go about getting things done.

What people don’t often realize, there are resources to help “age in place” and remain where you are for as long as it is safe and that you can afford what you need. Long ago is the day when you need to go to a nursing home just because you are not able to keep your medication straight, manage your housework or make your meals. Gone is the day when going to a nursing home means you are elderly and it’s permanent.

Within the past six months I have had four very close family members deal with all phases of acute and post hospital needs. We lost my father-in-law to complications of congestive heart failure and dementia earlier this fall. Over the course of the past two years, my mother-in-law did an outstanding job of providing for his care. Despite many “Plan B” strategies being put in place, we were was able to keep him at home by accessing outside help at the right time. We were convinced there were times just “knowing” there was a “plan B” kept everyone going. All “plans” came with a price, both emotional and financial. All care was on the table to consider: palliative care, hospice, free standing hospice unit, nursing home, skilled care, assisted living, Veteran’s Home and private duty care. Like so many, despite our family’s collective understanding of resources, we were in a “fog” when it came to making decisions related to the right path for his journey.

On another note, my two eldest siblings, ages (62 and 63) living 3 hours away, have both had an orthopedic surgery requiring skilled nursing homecare visits post operatively and eventual out-patient rehabilitation. Fortunately, both had the support of a spouse and live in a one level home making direct discharge home realistic. In the midst of all this, another family member (age 60) living six hours from us, fell sustaining a very bad tibia fracture. Kathy Nitz and I were presenting at a Caregiver Conference in Cedar Rapids on Getting Your Ducks in Order…of all things, when she was making arrangements for discharge from the hospital. One of our considerations was whether she could go directly home. Her pain was severe and she has a huge two level home with no main floor bedroom or full bath. We were not sure her husband could wrap up his season’s work to be the caregiver.

As with everything else, being the youngest, my siblings are showing me the way by example. Two of them have taken the step towards downsizing. It has really paid off with these surgeries as a one level easy-access home makes recuperating at home much more feasible. My husband finds in irritating that I wish to do the same.

After a life time of working in the field of aging and coming up with creative solutions for folks as they navigate their aging journey, I find myself somewhat caught off guard that “aging” has crept up on me as well. It seems surreal that homecare and skilled nursing have become topics of discussion around our kitchen table, no longer just for our parents, but for the next generation…mine.

Please consider joining us at our 2018 Empowerment Series:

January 10, 2018 Aging in Place. Learn ways you can avoid nursing care by getting the right help at the right time. February 10, 2018 It’s Not Zero to 100 – Different Levels of Living and Different Ways to Pay. Explore options of care, the continuum of care, from home care and independent living to full scale nursing home. Learn the differences, what you can expect and different ways to pay.

Both will be from 10 to 11:30 A.M. - 1900 State Street, Bettendorf in the Quad City Realtor Building.