June 24, 2014

THAT AWFUL DECISION...

For two years, I agonized over whether to ask my mother to live in assisted living.  After all, how could I ask this frail and then 80-something to leave her home of over 50 years?!  I kept coming back to, "It's either her or me," after caring for her in her home for 15 years.  I literally had reached the last day, the last ounce of what I had to give.  My well was bone dry.  I knew if I literally went one more DAY, I'd have to check myself into the psychiatric ward.  


You cannot know of such ripping anguish unless you're faced with a moment where you can't live with or without the decision.


Yet here I was.  There she was.  I'd grown to become resentful of any little request she made upon me.  I felt suffocated.  Day after day, season after season, year upon year, each little request heaped itself onto a pile that was now above my eyeballs.  I had no vision left--only raw, blinding emotions...anger, fear and pain.  How could I make such a decision?  It's like asking someone to chose between their kids.  The impossibility of this prolonged moment tore me...like sitting on a fence with sharp spikes.  I felt impaled.  


I knew the next day would come.  What would I do?  I had not one more day in me.  I'd truly, absolutely and completely reached the last ounce of whatever brine was by now left in my well.  


All those two years, I talked to trusted friends and advisors, spiritual leaders and whatever inner wisdom I could must in the morass in repeated prayer and meditation.  Each time, I came back to dead center...the spiky fence.  Finally, and I cannot tell you where or how I came to this, a spark of insight caught my all but dimmed attention. 


 "It's NOT either her or me, it's HER AND ME...What matters most to her is her daughter.  I'm no longer a daughter.  I'm just a worn out and resentful caregiver, and I'm now even beyond that...I'm a collapsing caregiver.  She wants her daughter back.  I want me back.  Having the mother-daughter relationship is far more important to her than where she lives!"  


From there, and through tons of tears and guilt, I approached her as she sat in her wheelchair in that same corner, day after day, as she endlessly watched her TV.  I kneeled down beside her, heavy in tears, took her hand, and told her I had nothing left.  "I'm asking if you are willing to move to assisted living.  I can't do it this way, anymore, Mom.  I've become a worn out and resentful caregiver."  


"I know!," she adds.


"It's gotten to where any little thing you ask I get resentful.  I don't want to be that way.  I don't have anymore to give.  I need you to go to assisted living.  Are you willing to try?"


Very reluctantly, and with great resignation, she agreed.  More on the story on my next blog.

SUE E. FABIAN, J.D., M.Ed.

ElderWISE Advisor/Advocate

Elder Law Attorney

​Certified in Gerontology

June 9, 2014

LIFE CARE PLANNING

I'm pushing 60 this year.  I walk my talk.  I've done my Will, Trust, financial POA and medical POA.  I've even done substantial business dissolution planning (not intending giving up the ship for many years!) as I'm not going to live forever.  Yet, there remain nagging issues to contemplate much less plan for so I'll be better prepared when/if the time comes...


I suspect many fellow Baby Boomers trying to help their aging parents may begin to think of these "nagging issues" themselves.  What am I talking about?  


Life Care Planning is something I haven't given much thought to, despite addressing most all other aspects of my estate planning.  It's an issue most give none to little thought about until the crisis arises.  I so know that if I wait until that time, my options become much more limited, if only due to not having the gift of time to come up with answers.  


What is Life Care Planning (LCP)?  It's thinking about how to deal with transportation when we can no longer drive.     How about putting in some home adaptations while we have some disposable income to make life easier in and around the home when we're on fixed incomes?  It's thinking about how to get to the laundry room if stairs become risky for us.  It's considering whether we can afford a long-term care policy so we have the POWER OF CHOICE when and if long-term care becomes needed.  It's thinking about what to do with our house if the time comes to release it.  


Time is on our side when we are of able body and mind.  It is better to contemplate these issues, even if at a leisurely pace, now, rather than trying to figure it all out in crisis, when our minds and hearts are sapped and time affords no luxury of thinking it through.


SUE E. FABIAN, J.D., M.Ed.

ElderWISE Advisor/Advocate

Elder Law Attorney

​Certified in Gerontology