Many individuals in their ’40s and ’50s think planning for long-term living options will be necessary only in the far, far future. In any case, just about everyone I talked with when I was younger assumed they would live in their own home with minimal care at whatever point the issue of independence became a problem. Many folks presumed living with their children would certainly be an option in the long run, although most indicated they would never want that option as a reality for them.
The first time I really gave any thought to not living in my own home when I began to age was when I finally realized my parents were getting older and less independent. My parents lived next door to my family from 1982 until 1999; they were a tremendous help to me in raising my children and supervising them. I frequently shared our meals with them for dinner since my mother had several minor strokes, but they seemed fine taking care of their financial and home-management needs.
One night when I came home in 1997 my mother called and said my dad had fallen off a ladder in the basement and had a significant head injury. He had refused care but when I came over to check on him, I realized he needed stitches. He had fifteen stitches and refused to go from the emergency care center to the hospital for additional care. At that time he was 86 years old. He never functioned very well after that point.
My parents and I sold both of our homes in 1999 and we moved into adjoining condominiums. At first this seemed like a manageable solution for everyone. My mother had some limitations with mobility, but the nature of condo living and the limited responsibilities for both of them worked well. Increasingly though my dad was unable to drive, began to forget many things, and suffered from increasing paranoia. My mother’s health deteriorated and I realized my dad needed more care than my mom could provide. I was working full-time, teaching graduate school in the evenings, and was raising three teenagers; I could not manage any more either.
We moved my dad to the next level of care—adult day care. Over the next several years both of my parents needed a variety of different types and levels of care prior to their deaths in 2014 and 2015.
None of my friends and family (mostly all in their ’60s to ’80s) have any long-term care options for themselves. It is amazing to me since most of their parents are deceased. In fact, many of them seem unable to adequately process their own aging or planning for eventual physical or cognitive limitations.
In the hopes of helping retirees to begin the conversation, I will cover over the next couple weeks the characteristics, planning needs, and financial issues of adult day care, assisted living (several types), home care, rehabilitative care and sub-acute after hospital care, long-term care, acute care, and hospice care.