My husband’s grandmother “Jenny” is 94 and lives alone. Up until three years ago, her son was her main caregiver. When he passed away, her daughter offered to take her in, but she lives a few states away and Jenny wasn’t interested in moving. Her support system consists of a woman who comes once a month to clean, and weekly visits from either my mother-in-law or myself to drop off groceries and supplies.
She has friends from her church take her to doctor appointments. She doesn’t want family to go, probably because her front of being able to live alone would be blown. She uses a walker and cannot drive. Mentally, she is still fairly alert, but her living situation isn’t pleasant because of her limited mobility and incontinence issues.
Good caregivers have been arranged with her consent to help for a few hours a week, but she’ll cancel because she feels she cannot afford them, although she can. Her daughter calls weekly to check in, but she can’t do much beyond that, because Jenny won’t agree to have help. If someone wandered in off the street, they’d most likely be horrified by the smell of her house, the condition of her clothing and her general hygiene.
I am not entirely sure why I saved this Dear Abby column perhaps I was thinking of this article (Who’s going to pay for eldercare?). Perhaps I found myself thinking of retirement, which is something we think about as young adults. What we don’t think about sometimes is the details. We’re too busy living in the moment and hoping what we invest in our 401K, IRA, Roth IRA will be enough . However, this is a real issue and these numbers are eye openers. I admit I don’t have any solid answers- I have more questions than answers. For example, how will you take care of the elderly individuals in your life? (let this story Duty Towards Elders inspire us all).
I also agree with Abby “The daughter who calls her 94-year-old mother once a week(!) should visit in person. If she can’t afford the trip, family members should assist. During this visit, the family should gather as a group, along with a social worker, to discuss local programs and services available to her, such as Meals on Wheels” I also agree a”A family member should accompany her to doctor’s visits. If she doesn’t want you in the exam room, sit in the waiting room and ask to speak with the doctor. You simply have to be brave enough to have her be mad at you in order to assume some responsibility for her well-being.” How are you helping the elderly in your life?How are you preparing for retirement?