It Takes a Village to Care for Grandma

I love talking to Grandma about the ‘good ole days’ when Grandpa was alive, and my dad and aunts were young. She can talk for hours about building the house, their family vacations, or even their dog. It’s not until I ask her about today, or who she’s seen lately, that things get fuzzy. When she politely asks me what I’ve been up to for the third time, I ask her, “Do you remember what I just said, Grandma?” And then she will recall, “Oh yeah, that’s right, you’re going to the beach. I knew that.” I focus on encouraging her to tell me the old stories, so she doesn’t have to apologize for her aging brain. I like to record her talking about the 1950s and 60s, and I figure one day my aunts will cherish the videos.

Growing up, my grandmother was someone I looked up to and respected. She baked apple pies, managed a huge garden, and sewed beautiful quilts. She also invested in the stock market, followed world news and politics, and attended church. Plus, she took care of my great grandmother until she passed at age 99 in 2005. Grandma was an ageless wonder woman who I strived to be like.

Now my Grandma is 93 and living alone in the house her husband built for her in 1955. She is hard of hearing, slowly losing her sight, and chews with a few less teeth. Grandma moves slower, repeats herself, and has age-related dementia according to her doctors. Her oldest daughter lives a mile away, her youngest daughter lives 20 minutes away, and her son passed five years ago. The woman who was once the family rock, is now dependent on loved ones to maintain her independence.

Unfortunately, my grandmother did not have the foresight to purchase a long term care policy. Fortunately, however, for now family and friends pitch in to help with Grandma’s care. Since I live farther away, I try to visit after work occasionally and take her out to dinner. She pays a neighbor to help her with eye drops at night and some light house cleaning, and she pays another woman to do other household chores and run errands. Even with all the help, I know she is lonely most of the day.

As you can see, it takes a village. For the time being, there is still some money. One daughter is retired and able to help more. A lot of families are not so lucky. Older relatives don’t have the financial means, family members live further away, neighbors aren’t so generous. Often health issues require more assistance, or dementia progresses and loved ones can’t live on their own any longer – as is the fear with my family. My aunts are preparing for Grandma’s time when she needs to move, and Grandma was extremely specific in her long term care plan as to what happens with her assets, and her care. Thank goodness! One aunt has even purchased a long term care policy of her own, so my cousin won’t have to worry about her care.

Grandma lived through the Great Depression. She was frugal, invested, and had a retirement plan from the day she started working – and there is still the fear from her children that her assets could run out. When I started working in the long term care industry, I got a long term care insurance policy, and I won’t ever let it lapse. I also encouraged everyone I know to take a look at their finances and their support system to determine their own long term care plan. It’s often something people prefer not to think about – and I get that. However, if you don’t make some hard decisions now, then someone else may make them for you in a time of crisis – and it may not be your choice.

Long term care is an important topic, and we’re here to help. Request a quote and speak with an LTCI Specialist today.