Baby boomers our actions will affect our loved ones

April 28, 2008 by  
Filed under Archives, News

My 80 year old father had a heart attack last Saturday. He had angioplasty and then acted as though nothing happened. It was like he had some illness and it got cured. He is overweight, fairly immobile from lack of exercise, overeating, and he does not seem to get it. It is not so much that he does not get that he could have died. What bothers me is that what he does from now on will determine my fate as a caregiver as he and my mother age. They have not exercised for years and years. They are both close to or over 200lbs. They both have bad backs and attitudes. They are in denial about their age and so they have not had those discussions with my brother and I that are necessary to carry out their wishes. We have no idea who has the medical power of attorney. We have no idea what their dying wishes are about a funeral or cremation. I know they want to be as independent as possible. I know they do not want to be a burden as they age. But, unless things change, they will leave us in a position where we will have to guess and maybe argue over what we think they would want.

Those of us in our 50’s and 60’s owe it to the ones we love to try and take care of ourselves so that they do not have to be caregivers for us because we have not taken care of ourselves. We owe it to them to make a will or trust and make sure that those executing such documents know our wishes so they do not have to guess. My parents will need care because they have not taken care of themselves. They will be of sound mind but not be able to move around, clean, or take care of one another because they are both in bad physical health. I will take care of them when they need it. I will not resent it but I will make sure that my sons or other loved ones do not have to take care of me because I did not consider that my actions now and in the future will have a major effect on those I love in the years to come.

Knowledge of hospice

April 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Archives, News

My neighbor’s father died last week. He never came home from his last trip to the hopital. He went to a home and then was taken back to the hospital to be put on morphine for his last few days. Mike had kept him at home for as long as he could. His father told him to keep him at home until his death. But it was too hard not to call the ambulance one last time. He told me that 5 years before they called and it saved his life for 5 more years, so I am guessing that he was “hoping” He was in his mid-eighties. As he spoke to me teary eyed II wondered, but did not ask, because his father had just died that day, “why didn’t they use hospice?” They could have provided that last week of care and his father and Mike would have had their wish come true. He regretted that his father, like his mother, years ago had to be in the hospital and not at home. After seeing the wonderful people who came to enroll my aunt into hospice, I would have nothing different for myself or those I love if possible. Mike is a hard working, blue collar, lower middle class guy who may not have understood about hospice or never really got all the nformation about how to go about getting into hospice. Everyone should check into all of their options when approaching death. From all the services I learned about for my aunt and the kindness of the people I met, I would rather have then guiding my caregiver than makiing my family endure the trip to the hospital if at all possible.

Joys of caregiving

April 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Archives, News

I knew I was losing my professor position when my aunt told me that she was diagnosed with cancer again. She had just lost her husband after he did not recover from a surgery a few weeks before she found out. There was no thought about how I was going to get back and forth between CA and WA. My life had revolved around teaching and my dogs. I never thought about how I was going to deal with the dogs. My aunt did not have a yard. I just knew that I wanted to make sure that my aunt had someone to talk to, someone to do her yard that loved that task as much as she did, someone who knew her likes, dislikes, and demons.

We were always exchanging tips about gardening. We both loved our riding lawnmowers. That was one of the things she lamented about. She got a brand new riding lawnmower just a month before she began feeling bad. She would point out that I had more hours on it than she. One of my joys was to make sure that her yard was always kept up. She could look out the window and see could still see the results of her 4 years of labor on a 4 acre piece of land. With my cousins, we even did some work she wanted to do in the future so we could discuss the future. Even though, I knew; she knew. But we never discussed her dying directly. We just talked about how others in the family were not getting how serious it was.

It made me happy that she did not have to feel guilty because I had to take off work. I did not have any. One of the biggest joys for me was that I could pay her back for her love, respect, and friendship that she had shown me all my life. She also knew that I could take her negativity, her hours of silence, and her frustrations because I knew her so well. I knew it wasn’t her. It was the disease. And as hard as it was and it has been, my biggest joy is that she died at home with family on her terms, not with strangers or in the hospital.

Tax time for caregivers

April 7, 2008 by  
Filed under Archives, News

I was working on my taxes last week. As I was going over all of my expenses, I realized I spent thousands of dollars on gas, food, and necessities while caring for my aunt. It made me think about family members who care for someone for longer than 8 months. I asked my tax person if people can deduct those costs. I know my cousin also spent a good deal of her own money. I mean really what do you say to the person you are caring for, “could you give me $50 for groceries?” Did I expect to be reimbursed, No!! But it seems to me that the statistics show that family caregivers provide an economic service to society that can and usually does lead to more medical costs for the caregiver and a loss of wages or retirement because of work time missed or leaving a position. As this USA Today article demonstrates Congress and Bush are not very interested in helping the caregiver maintain their health and financial status unless you provide in-home care. It is about time that our representatives acknowledged that without the help of family caregivers, many of those being cared for would be under the care of the taxpayer.