Sunday, January 28, 2024

Get Ready to Get Older

 Yes, it's 2024.  I keep having to remind myself, which is funny, considering that I don't write checks these days.  Yes, I am still working on my doctorate, but the end zone is in sight.  Turns out that writing a doctoral thesis is more time consuming than previously thought.  

But enough about me.  

My parents are getting older.  They're still spry, but they're slower these days.  My mother-in-law, on the other hand, has not been so good. She spent about a month in the hospital with pneumonia, and long story short, she can no longer take care of herself.  Or her dog. Luckily, a friend was able to find a new home for the dog.  

This was unexpected, to say the least, and I have learned all sorts of new information. Mother-in-law wasn't always able to make decisions for herself, yet decisions had to be made.  It would have been nice if plans had been made for this type of situation, but they weren't.  That does not mean that someone my age cannot sit down and plan for them.  

First of all, who has power of attorney for you?  This is a very important document; it give permission for another person to make decisions for you when you are unconscious or otherwise incapacitated.  It can be a document that is notarized, or it can be something you scrawl on the back of a takeout menu.  The person with POA can be your spouse or another relative, and should ideally be aware of your wishes on a variety of topics, such as organ donation.  

Next, what happens if you can no longer live independently?  Some individuals choose to stay at home with a 24/7 caregiver, but let's be realistic, that will eat through the money pretty quickly.  If you need to live in a nursing home, and you expect Medicare to pay for it, then you may want to talk to a lawyer or accountant and get everything set up BEFORE you get to that point.  The latest trend here is group homes for seniors.  Four elderly folk living in an actual home with a caregiver who lives in the home and cooks, cleans, hands out medications, etc.  

Third, do you have a DNR?  This is a document that says that you do not want any efforts made to resuscitate you should your heart stop.  Do. Not. Resuscitate. Think about this one carefully, because sometimes the efforts to pull a person back from death can be worse.  Talk to a physician about it, if you need to.  Definitely make sure that you talk to your loved ones, so there's no brawls at the bedside.  

Then, do you have a will?  There are websites, books, etc., to help you with the language needed to write out your final wishes.  If you want to donate your coin collection to the Smithsonian, this is where you put that. My husband had all sorts of issues when his uncle passed because there was no will and all of these unknown relatives showed up when it came time to sell the house. Don't do that to your family.

Finally, funeral plans.   It is not morbid to think about this part of death.  It does not hurt to look online.  At least then you will have an idea about costs and other information to help you decide.  There are people out there who will take advantage of your family when they are grieving your passing; help them out by making a few decisions for them.  

Planning out these events while you are healthy will make sure that your wishes are clearly outlined and your family knows what you want in the event that you are no longer able to tell them.  Things happen when you get older.  Plan ahead.


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