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fairfarmhand

Preparing for your elder years

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The post by another boardie about going through her dad's things and selling his house and all got me thinking. Of course, nobody knows the future. None of us know when we'll deal with a death, illness, or some sort of impairment. But, if you could plan a little for your senior years, what would you do to make things easier on your kids? 

Me, I love our home and our huge chunk of land. But mentally, I'm telling myself that one day, I will probably have to give it up and move to a place that's more manageable for an aging person. I already don't love the amount of yard work and maintenance that must be done. So I'm nurturing a mentality of "I can be happy anywhere. This is nice. There are other equally nice places." 

Second, I'm mentally taking notes about what is hard from this end of life. Like what makes it easy for kids to take care of parents and what makes it hard for the kids to do so. Personally, I'm hoping to nurture kind, cheerful, and positive relationships with my adult kids so that they WANT to spend time with me and will want to take care of me.

Third, I plan on, when the kids move out, to empty closets and have just blank spaces in some parts of the house. Just because I have a closet of a particular size, doesn't mean that I need to have it packed with stuff. I hope to be able to slowly clear out unneeded items so that when it is time to downsize, cleaning the house out won't be so onerous and overwhelming. I don't want to wait till I'm in poor health, because then it will feel even more impossible to do on my own terms.

Fourth, we have money set aside in savings and a pension that should be enough to take care of us. I'm also nurturing the mindset that I am not owed services from my adult kids, especially if some of those helps are needed because of my choices (for example: If I won't move to a house with a smaller yard, I am not owed help with lawn maintenance or other helps from my kids) We should be willing to pay for helps if needed and if possible. 

Fifth, I am passing on stories about family items to my kids. Not so that they will necessarily value them the way I do, but so that if they are interested, they will know the history behind the object. And I should also be able to let stuff go if my family members don't want it. Nurturing a mindset of "it's just stuff."

 

What else am I not thinking about? 

 

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Keeping as healthy as possible. Losing muscle mass is a big danger, leading to falls and dependency.

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24 minutes ago, Laura Corin said:

Keeping as healthy as possible. Losing muscle mass is a big danger, leading to falls and dependency.

What she said😊 We belong to a gym and do strength training 3 days a week. We both do cardiovascular training 5 days a week. DH also does yoga 2 days a week with our daughter. 

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My husband’s grandma has dementia for more than a decade and is wheelchair bound for years. What helped was she lives very minimalistic all along with her elderly single daughter at an elderly friendly two bedroom apartment (elevators and her house doors are already wheelchair friendly). The live in help sleeps in the master bedroom with the grandma. Also the house is a very short drive (about two blocks) to the hospital and specialist clinics so medical services are a short drive away. My husband’s aunts that are not babysitting grandkids and not working help whenever they can. His younger aunts are working until at least 65 years old as they don’t have pension. 

My in-laws are hoarders and they would likely have to move if they need a lot of help as their daughter and son are both living far from them and nearer to their in-laws (who were babysitting for them). We are in a different country so can only help financially. 

My kids are teens and while employment in my area is generally decent for tech, my husband and I are mentally prepared that our kids might have to relocate like we did to find employment. So we are looking for a home that is near medical facilities for our next home. I am currently 15 miles from my chemotherapy treatment center and travel time is already taking a physical toll even though my husband and Uber have been doing the driving. My husband takes family leave for every chemo session while I take Uber for the three consecutive days of booster shots after each chemo session. There were a few locations that we liked for new homes but jobs and healthcare facilities are few so those places are out. My husband wants to work as long as he can for employee healthcare benefits so a location with jobs for seniors (even minimum wage) would be attractive as long as it comes with health benefits.

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My parents died at fifty, so I"m following their example being financially responsible, eating well,  and sharing the genetic health info.  Having good record keeping, a will,  and knowing the wishes for the remains was very helpful to the dc in closing the estate quickly.  As a military family, we never accumulated 'stuff'. I am doing same. In my extended family, the single elder typically moves in with a relative who has a room and a gc or ggc, whoever is able, takes care of them until they pass.  

What you need to watch for is the NIMBYism.  The plan of elders here is age in place on SS/Medicare/pension without changing the zoning to allow younger people who would be the aides/lawn care/grocery delivery drivers/roofers to have affordable housing,as they believe their children will move in to their old bedrooms and do all the work.  Its been interesting...I have neighbors that are 90+ who have finally realized that the choice of help is the volunteer FD or the volunteer ambulance and amazon...the 'kids' are too old to help the elders up from a fall and their night vision for driving while they age in to medicare doing their cataracts is an issue.  The specialist health care is 2 hours away, and they certainly can't take the light rail and subway to get there, nor can the 'kids' handle major rush hour traffic and parking.  If they would move 2 hours the other way, or follow the families to NC/FL/upstate NY/PA, there is plenty of mixed zoning where they can age in place with affordable pricing where they could keep up a home and have transportation.  Here, the doctors are now paying for taxis to get elders in to appointments so they won't end up showing up at the ER.

Edited by HeighHo
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39 minutes ago, Arcadia said:

. My husband takes family leave for every chemo session while I take Uber for the three consecutive days of booster shots after each chemo session. 

 

Your insurance may let you do the injections, mine just require the doctor to sign off that I have been trained.   I have the pre-filled syringes shipped to the nearby pharm, which has a fridge for them, and pick them up there rather than ship to my front door.  They give me a tracking number so its easy.  Insurance gives me the supplies too (glove, wipe, sharps container)..much easier than going back to the provider.

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4 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

Your insurance may let you do the injections, mine just require the doctor to sign off that I have been trained.

 

My insurance won’t cover for the self injections unless I react very badly to granix (tbo-filgrastim).

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1 hour ago, Laura Corin said:

Keeping as healthy as possible. Losing muscle mass is a big danger, leading to falls and dependency.

 

I need to get after this.  Thank you for the reminder.

 

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29 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

 

Your insurance may let you do the injections, mine just require the doctor to sign off that I have been trained.   I have the pre-filled syringes shipped to the nearby pharm, which has a fridge for them, and pick them up there rather than ship to my front door.  They give me a tracking number so its easy.  Insurance gives me the supplies too (glove, wipe, sharps container)..much easier than going back to the provider.

 

This isn't directed at your specific comment but it triggered an idea for me.  Dh is on Medicare now.  He has a debilitating condition (please God let it be lonnnnng-term and sloooooow-moving) and it looks like he needs to step up to a designer drug.  It can be administered IV in a hospital, infusion (or something) in a clinic or shots at home.  

The amount of coverage he gets for the drug depends on which medicare plan he chooses AND on which method of drug administration he chooses.  So if he got Plan Q (making this up), he gets 80% coverage if he administers at home, but 20% if it is hospital.  If he got Plan P, he gets NO coverage unless he goes to the hospital and then it is 100%.  Stuff like that.  You need a DATABASE to figure out your options

How the heck are you supposed to know what dreadful condition is going to attack you after you have chosen plan P or Q?  Even sitting with his specialist, they can barely figure out what the Sam Hill is a workable option?  

And sorry, but we didn't plan for $100,000 a year for one med.  Like, I never got that much salary in a year EVER.  And this isn't anything he could have done anything to prevent, either...so I guess what I am saying besides the big whine is plan to be surprised.  Whatever that means.

 

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Sort of an addendum to the post I just made, but enough of a different topic that I think it is worth mentioning in a separate post:

Start early to understand your medical options.  My dh has to figure all of this out for himself now, and it's good that he is pretty sharp--but he is also having to figure it out for his 94yo mom, who never picked up so much as a pamphlet to help herself understand her options.  MY 96yo mom did, and she is really low-maintenance about managing health-care issues (yeah, she has to have a ride to the doctor, but she manages her paperwork and understands her options).

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It was probably my post from Sunday that prompted this one :-) !!!  My DH is still over at the house replacing the garbage disposal that started leaking last night 😞 !!!  Almost there though!!!

I will be back in a day or 2 to really respond to this.  I have had a lot of time to think about all of this while driving, waiting in doctor's waiting rooms, while not sleeping at night over the last 8 months.  For me, medical is a big part of it, but another big part deal with the things you were listing in your original post - moving, going through stuff, responsibility of our children for us, making decisions and changes while it is still our choice and not forced on us.  This experience has been life changing for me and my DH.  We are different people now.  I am almost 52 and he is 57 (with almost 14 year old twins) so this has been an important lesson for both of us.

More later :-) ...

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One thing I see with older people is when they get to where they need more help/possibly a nursing home, the children want the parents to move closer to them so they can help more. Whereas that sounds great, the old person is leaving their community of friends, their established doctors, their regular stores/restaurants/bookstores/hanging out places/volunteer activities/whatever. And if the older person is not in condition to go out and about and make new friends, familiarize themselves with the new area/stores/restaurants/doctors/etc - it makes it really hard on them.  If they relocate, they don't have the visitors and support system they used to - they only have their kids - which, in turn, I think, puts more of a burden on the kids to help their elderly parents - and often when the kids already have a full and busy life. 

So, if you think this may be a possibility in your life, and your child is in a place where they probably will stay, move closer earlier - when you are still fully functional so you can get out and make friends, establish your support system, establish your doctors/dentists/eye doctors. 

Edited by Bambam
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5 minutes ago, Bambam said:

One thing is see with older people is when they get to where they need more help/possibly a nursing home, the children want the parents to move closer to them so they can help more. Whereas that sounds great, the old person is leaving their community of friends, their established doctors, their regular stores/restaurants/bookstores/hanging out places/volunteer activities/whatever. And if the older person is not in condition to go out and about and make new friends, familiarize themselves with the new area/stores/restaurants/doctors/etc - it makes it really hard on them.  If they relocate, they don't have the visitors and support system they used to - they only have their kids - which, in turn, I think, puts more of a burden on the kids to help their elderly parents - and often when the kids already have a full and busy life. 

So, if you think this may be a possibility in your life, and your child is in a place where they probably will stay, move closer earlier - when you are still fully functional so you can get out and make friends, establish your support system, establish your doctors/dentists/eye doctors. 

That really is brilliant!

 

maybe I should add to my original list to be adventurous as an older person. Always be willing to try things and meet people!

 

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47 minutes ago, Patty Joanna said:

 

This isn't directed at your specific comment but it triggered an idea for me.  Dh is on Medicare now.  He has a debilitating condition (please God let it be lonnnnng-term and sloooooow-moving) and it looks like he needs to step up to a designer drug.  It can be administered IV in a hospital, infusion (or something) in a clinic or shots at home.  

The amount of coverage he gets for the drug depends on which medicare plan he chooses AND on which method of drug administration he chooses.  So if he got Plan Q (making this up), he gets 80% coverage if he administers at home, but 20% if it is hospital.  If he got Plan P, he gets NO coverage unless he goes to the hospital and then it is 100%.  Stuff like that.  You need a DATABASE to figure out your options

How the heck are you supposed to know what dreadful condition is going to attack you after you have chosen plan P or Q?  Even sitting with his specialist, they can barely figure out what the Sam Hill is a workable option?  

And sorry, but we didn't plan for $100,000 a year for one med.  Like, I never got that much salary in a year EVER.  And this isn't anything he could have done anything to prevent, either...so I guess what I am saying besides the big whine is plan to be surprised.  Whatever that means.

 

 

You just don't know in advance.   We have the situation where the elder doesn't understand dual coverage and won't sign up for Medicare.( in NY part time govt job can have full time private health care).......that is one thing the govt needs to get on, because the chronic health situation just gets worse when the elder won't treat whatever they have because they don't want to spend down yet.  And you are going to have to protect your own health...I can't see elder now, because elder won't treat the pneumonia/any infection that may resolve with time, and I have low immunity due to my own issues. Add in the cognitive issues from untreated whatevers and its difficult.  Really all I can do is call ambulance since elder has no one they trust for health care proxy.

I wouldn't even worry about the elder support net; my elderly friends are finding their doctors retire and move as do many of the friends.  They only come back after they can't live independently in Florida half the year or move in with a dc who has moved for the job.

Edited by HeighHo
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If you are more than a little overweight, you should start losing weight and as the above pp mentioned, try not to lose muscle mass.  When I worked in a nursing home briefly, the people who were in the most need of care at a younger elderly age were usually obese.  They tended to have more trouble moving putting them at risk for pressure sores and needing specialized equipment to get them up out of bed or to the toilet.  It’s not a popular opinion, but when I saw how much trouble the larger weight elderly population had, I determined at that point to continue to watch my weight as I got older. It’s not a guarantee that you won’t wind up with other reasons you’ll need full time care, but it will be easier to care for you if you’re a healthy weight.

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One thing my mom did (that we plan to but have not yet!) is to put my brothers' and my names on everything, POD (payable upon death). State laws vary on this but, in my mom's state, it worked out so that we (and grandkids) became account or property owners when she passed away. This made everything very easy as far as estate distribution, and we didn't have to work through probate. It also helped so much to be able to write checks from her account (that my brother and I then owned jointly) instead of paying from our individual accounts and then reimbursing later from inherited money.

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My situation is a bit unique in that all 3 of my kids have special needs and will need life long help themselves.

What I am doing now though is:

Saving for retirement, as much as I can on my limited income

Making this the year of taking care of myself.....cardiology, etc.  I need to be as healthy as I can be

I bought a house that is a simple ranch with main floor laundry, and 3 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths on the main floor.  The yard is simple upkeep.

I am putting in an "in law" suite in the basement that for now my kids can use as an "apartment" --2 bedrooms with egress windows, bath, family room and wet bar.  In the future this could be for them to live downstairs while a caregiver lived upstairs or flip flop and there would be an "apartment" in the basement for a caregiver.

I have done financial planning, guardianship, trusts, etc. so that my kids will be taken care of.

My new house is in an area with door to door bus service that is wheelchair friendly if it ever came to that.

 

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30 minutes ago, Bambam said:

One thing I see with older people is when they get to where they need more help/possibly a nursing home, the children want the parents to move closer to them so they can help more. Whereas that sounds great, the old person is leaving their community of friends, their established doctors, their regular stores/restaurants/bookstores/hanging out places/volunteer activities/whatever. And if the older person is not in condition to go out and about and make new friends, familiarize themselves with the new area/stores/restaurants/doctors/etc - it makes it really hard on them.  If they relocate, they don't have the visitors and support system they used to - they only have their kids - which, in turn, I think, puts more of a burden on the kids to help their elderly parents - and often when the kids already have a full and busy life. 

So, if you think this may be a possibility in your life, and your child is in a place where they probably will stay, move closer earlier - when you are still fully functional so you can get out and make friends, establish your support system, establish your doctors/dentists/eye doctors. 

We are in a situation with my in-laws where they are starting to be in positions where they really could use a different living situation.  We are starting to get a little concerned about some things we’re starting to see (mostly forgetful type things and some issues with driving).  Three years ago, my fil, had replacement knee surgery and they had to pay someone just to get him into the house because it’s a multilevel house. LOTS of stairs.  They had no help other than the initial get fil into the house.  Dh couldn’t drop everything and fly out there and neither could bil.  They needed help and soldiered on somehow.  They live 1000 miles away from us and 90-100 miles away from my brother in law.  They want to move to a different state where they have more friends their age  but then they are no where close to either of their children.  Neither of their sons has a lot of flexibility in their jobs.  I get their desire.  But how are we supposed to help take care of their needs when they live a plane trip away?  We keep asking them to get a longer range plan in place.  They just want to live where they want.  I get it.  I would too.  But, it puts their sons in a really awkward position.

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20 minutes ago, bethben said:

If you are more than a little overweight, you should start losing weight and as the above pp mentioned, try not to lose muscle mass.  When I worked in a nursing home briefly, the people who were in the most need of care at a younger elderly age were usually obese.  They tended to have more trouble moving putting them at risk for pressure sores and needing specialized equipment to get them up out of bed or to the toilet.  It’s not a popular opinion, but when I saw how much trouble the larger weight elderly population had, I determined at that point to continue to watch my weight as I got older. It’s not a guarantee that you won’t wind up with other reasons you’ll need full time care, but it will be easier to care for you if you’re a healthy weight.

 

My elder friends have noted that if you are losing weight, do it carefully. You don't want to bring on osteopenia via your diet choices. also keep up the weight bearing exercise, you want healthy bones.

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30 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

....snip...

I wouldn't even worry about the elder support net; my elderly friends are finding their doctors retire and move as do many of the friends.  They only come back after they can't live independently in Florida half the year or move in with a dc who has moved for the job.

 

It's really tricky because a lot of the doctors won't take new medicare patients, but the doctors that we have had forever are also retiring.  We are part of a clinic, so we are OK if our doctor retires (although I will miss him!) because another doctor will pick us up, but if we move...oy.  And we are likely going to move.  We have way too much of our net worth in this house.  

When I was younger I was adamant that I wanted a priest, a doctor and a lawyer to be older than I.  Now, I am thankful that all are younger or have younger replacements in the wings.  

 

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1 hour ago, Bambam said:

One thing I see with older people is when they get to where they need more help/possibly a nursing home, the children want the parents to move closer to them so they can help more. Whereas that sounds great, the old person is leaving their community of friends, their established doctors, their regular stores/restaurants/bookstores/hanging out places/volunteer activities/whatever. And if the older person is not in condition to go out and about and make new friends, familiarize themselves with the new area/stores/restaurants/doctors/etc - it makes it really hard on them.  If they relocate, they don't have the visitors and support system they used to - they only have their kids - which, in turn, I think, puts more of a burden on the kids to help their elderly parents - and often when the kids already have a full and busy life. 

So, if you think this may be a possibility in your life, and your child is in a place where they probably will stay, move closer earlier - when you are still fully functional so you can get out and make friends, establish your support system, establish your doctors/dentists/eye doctors. 

A thousand times this. 

Or, what I wish MY parents had done--stayed in their community with their friends of 50 years and move into the same assisted living place with them.  It was a mistake for my parents to move away from their home-land of 50 years, and all those beloved friends.  They are down to very few now, but that's to be expected in the late 90s.  In the early 90s (age), there were still enough of them to make up two bridge tables, and mostly brains enough to play good rubbers.  :0)

The place they moved to, everyone they had time enough to make friends with is dead now.  All 4 of them.

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Here’s a question—what if you’re married to someone who believes he’ll be immortal? I really think my dh believes he’ll never get old and will always be able to care for everything on his own. 

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Alzheimer's runs rampant in my family, so we've given this a lot of thought. I've seen first hand what has worked and not worked for my parents and my grandparents -- Mom has Alzheimer's and is in a nursing home now, but lived with me for awhile before that. My grandmother had Alzheimer's and was cared for in our home, by Mom and my sister and me (as teens).

1) We are willing to move to be near our children, if they settle elsewhere as adults. This is a big deal, because, as already mentioned, so many elders are not willing. We hope that our children will stay in our greater urban area, which is the state capital and has a wide variety of job opportunities, but we know it may not happen. DH will likely need to work as long as possible (see point 3), so while I understand the benefits of moving while we are still relatively young, we are likely to be older when he retires and will need to stay near his work place for a long time into the future. That's why we hope our children remain in the area. We are already 50, and our kids have a decade or more before they are launched, so early retirement and moving while we are young are not likely to be options.

2) We will downsize, almost assuredly, once our children are grown, because this home does not have a first floor master. When we do so, we will choose very carefully, so that we have the possibility of aging in place. I've sorted through my parents' things and don't want my children to have to do much of that for me, so we will try to keep culling our possessions.

3) We are going to have to carefully consider DH's retirement age. On the one hand, due to the possibility of Alzheimer's, we'd like to be able to spend a lot of time together, to enjoy each other before things are stolen away. But there will be a great financial benefit for him continuing to work, and memory care is very expensive. He will likely keep working as long as possible, and after we pay off the house and pay for college, etc., sock a large amount of his salary away in savings (we save now but will do even more later, when our family expenses are less). But we will try to balance the work with opportunities to enjoy life and be together while we can.

4) Our Plan A is to have a home in retirement that has an in-law suite, so that we can live together but still separately if Alzheimer's comes into play. It is exceedingly difficult to live with someone with dementia 24/7, and I want DH to be able to both share living space with me and also be able to retreat to another part of the house, while hired aides stay with me. Another option is for us to buy two townhouse style condos side by side, so that DH has space away from me. This may seem odd to many of you, but those who have lived with dementia will understand the need for separate living quarters, in order to preserve the health of the caretaker. The current goal is to not use nursing home care but to use in-home hired help; hence the need for us to up our savings as the years progress. If a nursing home becomes inevitable for one or the other of us, we want to be prepared financially. I've seen what paying for a nursing home has done to my dad's finances.

If DH becomes ill before me, I would not be able to care for him physically (he is a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier than I am), so the same measures that we are considering to plan for possible dementia for me also apply to caring for him, in case of illness or disability. Since he is the breadwinner, we optimize the disability insurance on him whenever we review his benefits annually.

5) We have work to do on financial management, estate planning, and improving our weight and overall health during these middle aged years.

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Yes, we've had many discussions around this recently at my house.

Not really sure how to rank them, but some thoughts:

  • I must keep in good health and not die (per Jane Eyre) - no guarantees obviously, but trying to be better about exercise, eating, sleeping, and stress management.
  • Prepare my kids to live without me if and when that happens.  Not exactly sure what that means, but I hope that they have good self-esteem, horse sense, friends, and whatever else it takes.  I hope they know they were always loved and worth loving.
  • Just this month I finalized my "estate planning documents."
  • Simplify.  Before I die, I want things to be as easy as possible.  After I die, I want people to come into my room and say "wow, she was organized" and not be burdened by the mess I left behind.
  • More minor details, but I want to fix the little things that interfere with my ease and comfort.  Like my crooked teeth and my tailbone issues.  As I get older, it will get harder to deal with these.

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1 minute ago, SKL said:
  • Simplify.  Before I die, I want things to be as easy as possible.  After I die, I want people to come into my room and say "wow, she was organized" and not be burdened by the mess I left behind.

My mom got her papers in order about 25 years ago.  She showed me the file:  Start Here is the label on the first folder.  There is a sheet in there that says:  File 1: Do this.  File 2:  Do this.  Right down the line.  She's awesome!  That doesn't mean there won't be work to do but the work won't be figuring out what to do!

By the way, my lawyer friend who specializes in Estate Planning says that waaaaayyyyyy too much of his income comes from searching out PASSWORDS and finding the accounts people have open.  One guy had 28 bank accounts, and the family knew about...1.  My lawyer friend will make money no matter what kind of work he has to do...he just thinks this is a bit ridiculous when it all could have been written down.  My friend's dh died suddenly and unexpectedly and out of town at age 54.  That he carried with him the Book of Passwords and Information made the paperwork and banking and service providers and other sorts of information-handling so much easier to deal with than it could have been.  I came home and set up my own book. 

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nm

    

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3 hours ago, HeighHo said:

My parents died at fifty, so I"m following their example being financially responsible, eating well,  and sharing the genetic health info.  Having good record keeping, a will,  and knowing the wishes for the remains was very helpful to the dc in closing the estate quickly.    

What you need to watch for is the NIMBYism.  ...  If they would move 2 hours the other way, or follow the families to NC/FL/upstate NY/PA, there is plenty of mixed zoning where they can age in place with affordable pricing where they could keep up a home and have transportation.  Here, the doctors are now paying for taxis to get elders in to appointments so they won't end up showing up at the ER.

Yes, assessing access is a big thing with a lot of dimensions.

Taming paperwork on top of having the right stuff done--it doesn't have to be a perfect system or perfectly documented, but some rhyme or reason to what you keep and toss is helpful. If something is of more historic or sentimental use, be sure to label it and state why. My husband's family has a lot of old deeds that are not valid anymore. They are cool just to see who owned what, cost, etc., but trying to find those documents via records searches would be harder than just keeping a small file of really neat stuff. 

Fairfarmhand, I think you have great ideas. I would encourage you when you downsize, that you also don't have to get rid of everything. Sometimes just being organized is enough, but it depends on what your kids are like and how much stuff you have. Or if your kids are packrats, and you'd like to save them from themselves. 🙂 

Sentimental furniture or antiques might be something you want to record in a book--pictures of the item and a note with what you know about it. If the kids want to keep it, they know what it is. If they don't want it, but want to remember it, it's there. If they don't know what it is, it helps them decide. In our family, we have a lot of people to spread out the sentimental stuff. If I can't keep some of my parents' heirlooms, there are other people that might want them in the extended family. If your family is like this, you might want to suggest possible contingent recipients. My parents have stuff from some of the first people in my family to live in the US. Well, they had a ton of kids--the fact that so much of it ended up in our direct line is unusual. If no one close to us wants this stuff someday, I would ask farther afield rather than have something with a 5 or 6 generation history just disappear. It's not overly valuable outside our family (but is practical--furniture). Other stuff spread around in the family is of pretty interesting historical significance locally--stuff that the local historical society would potentially be really excited about.

Anything you know about names, dates, places, records is a gift. My great-aunt wrote down a lot of family history, and often she put in clues of things that don't seem significant health-wise, but turn out to be a puzzle piece for the big picture. It's been astounding what that's added to our knowledge of family health history, and it's not like she wrote down a ton of health-related data. Some of what she mentioned hints at health issues that were not understood at the time but are becoming clearer now. Just having names and dates has helped with searching Find a Grave--there are several death certificates attached to those records that were eye-opening! 

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3 hours ago, May said:

What she said😊 We belong to a gym and do strength training 3 days a week. We both do cardiovascular training 5 days a week. DH also does yoga 2 days a week with our daughter. 

Husband swims three days a week. I Nordic Walk two to three days a week and attend two or three serious yoga classes. I normally walk briskly for half an hour during my lunch break from work. We have a dog who gets walked too.  We often hike at weekends or work in the garden.  I'm 56, and this is the strongest and lightest I've ever been.

My mother never took deliberate exercise but she ran errands on foot, gardened, and rode a motorbike until she was 85. Once she stopped doing those things and spent some time in hospital, she immediately lost muscle and started to fall. It now tires her to hold a knife and fork.

 

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2 hours ago, Bambam said:

One thing I see with older people is when they get to where they need more help/possibly a nursing home, the children want the parents to move closer to them so they can help more. Whereas that sounds great, the old person is leaving their community of friends, their established doctors, their regular stores/restaurants/bookstores/hanging out places/volunteer activities/whatever. And if the older person is not in condition to go out and about and make new friends, familiarize themselves with the new area/stores/restaurants/doctors/etc - it makes it really hard on them.  If they relocate, they don't have the visitors and support system they used to - they only have their kids - which, in turn, I think, puts more of a burden on the kids to help their elderly parents - and often when the kids already have a full and busy life. 

So, if you think this may be a possibility in your life, and your child is in a place where they probably will stay, move closer earlier - when you are still fully functional so you can get out and make friends, establish your support system, establish your doctors/dentists/eye doctors. 

Yes!  Move early enough to set up supports in a new place.  Genius.

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get hearing aids if needed. My mom and dad are always shouting and I have to shout or repeat myself often. Sometimes it is just exhausting having a conversation. 

 

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1 hour ago, lmrich said:

get hearing aids if needed. My mom and dad are always shouting and I have to shout or repeat myself often. Sometimes it is just exhausting having a conversation. 

 

And lack of hearing is very isolating.  They say that deafness is much more of a social handicap than blindness, not that you want to have either...

I got hearing aids last summer.  They are NOT cheap.  And Medicare doesn't cover them (not that I am on Medicare yet, but you'd THINK...).  So work long enough so you can pay for hearing aids!  (I SAID:  WORK LONG ENOUGH...oh sorry.)

My mom thought they were cheap because she got cheap hearing aids and duh.  I CAN"T HEAR YOU!" was about 50% of our phone conversations (her 50%). She got some good ones last summer and we can talk on the phone again.  

Hearing loss has three dimensions, and yelling solves only one of them.  Talking slower helps another one--the hearing loss that is in your brain and not in your ear (slower processing).  Good hearing aids take care of the third problem:  they correct distortion  (sort of like astigmatism in your ears...).

Hearing aids are a bit of a PITB but they are also really kind of cool.  Spotify goes right into my head.  So do my phone calls.  I have a TV device that makes the TV go right into my head, and because the hearing aids correct for distortion, I can now understand even BBC recordings.  And when "that kid" on my right is making a bunch of racket in church, I turn off my right ear.  

I was missing a LOT of conversations before I got these; my BFF nagged me into it.  I'm glad she did.  Ironically, her vocal range is *exactly* where my hearing loss is the worst.  ;0)

 

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One other thing...I'm noticing that a LOT of what enables elders to take care of themselves at home, or to get access to care at home is *technology*--so I plan to embrace the use of new tools that can serve me (not be my masters!) and not depend on my kid to have to do all that for me.  I can order my own groceries, make doctor appointments, get a ride to the doctor, pay my bills, stay in touch with family and friends, even if I can't leave my house.  And I can likely find a neighborhood kid to come take out my trash and bring in the mail if I can't do that.  

I don't even know how someone can research and sign up for Medicare without online savvy anymore.  

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7 hours ago, Patty Joanna said:

 

I need to get after this.  Thank you for the reminder.

 

I am glad for the reminder, too.  I didn't realize that losing muscle mass contributed to falls.  Definitely going to look into gym options this week!  

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The thing that stresses me out the most regarding my dad is how far away I am from him and how little advanced prepwork he's done.  He says he wants to stay in his current home until it's "time for the nursing home", but I don't think he totally grasps that you don't just move into a nursing home on a whim. Things have to get to a bad point before you go to the nursing home.  I look at the flight of stairs and the long, icy sidewalks to the car and mailbox and wince.  It's a matter of time before he falls and then we'll be in Crisis Mode.  We could avoid or postpone Crisis Mode if he'd be willing to make some changes now, but he won't. 

So, my plan is to downsize to a smaller property *before* it's a need.  This house is all one level, which is great, but I can see a day when the maintenance and cleaning of it will become too much because of it's size.  I do want to be close to where my son lives when he's an adult, so he doesn't have to run himself ragged to check on me and DH.  Close enough where's it's convenient for my son to check in, but not so close that my future DIL wants to strangle me, lol!  I'd be happy to go to an apartment or even have a tiny house.  Something one level and small, where I can have a cat and not worry about major repairs or mowing the lawn.  Grab bars in the bathroom(s) and a walk-in shower are a must. 

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We're there now. Dh seems to be stable on this current clinical trial, but of course, he was on the other, until he wasn't. This is the last trial available. All this has bought 2 years so far. Some things we've done--finish (finally!) the conservation easement on the ranch. It's locked it up permanently, and given us cash flow. The wills are being re-written--they are out-of-date. I've lost the weight, and am walking, walking, walking. Dd has moved home, having made the commitment to the ranch. We're installing a handicapped bathroom. As to getting rid of stuff? Never going to happen. The shop is unusable, and it's not going to get any better under dd. Oh well, nothing I can do. We've gotten rid of the majority of the sheep flock, and put up new haysheds. Now to get dh off dead center and get fences fixed. I'm financially set. 

Edited by Margaret in CO
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10 hours ago, Patty Joanna said:

 

This isn't directed at your specific comment but it triggered an idea for me.  Dh is on Medicare now.  He has a debilitating condition (please God let it be lonnnnng-term and sloooooow-moving) and it looks like he needs to step up to a designer drug.  It can be administered IV in a hospital, infusion (or something) in a clinic or shots at home.  

The amount of coverage he gets for the drug depends on which medicare plan he chooses AND on which method of drug administration he chooses.  So if he got Plan Q (making this up), he gets 80% coverage if he administers at home, but 20% if it is hospital.  If he got Plan P, he gets NO coverage unless he goes to the hospital and then it is 100%.  Stuff like that.  You need a DATABASE to figure out your options

How the heck are you supposed to know what dreadful condition is going to attack you after you have chosen plan P or Q?  Even sitting with his specialist, they can barely figure out what the Sam Hill is a workable option?  

And sorry, but we didn't plan for $100,000 a year for one med.  Like, I never got that much salary in a year EVER.  And this isn't anything he could have done anything to prevent, either...so I guess what I am saying besides the big whine is plan to be surprised.  Whatever that means.

 

In my state, I can call the State Medicare office and they will help me sort through my options for supplemental plans.  I've helped several people wade through the medicare mess, and our state office has been invaluable.  I don't often say that about governmental offices!!!  :-)

 

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15 minutes ago, Anne said:

In my state, I can call the State Medicare office and they will help me sort through my options for supplemental plans.  I've helped several people wade through the medicare mess, and our state office has been invaluable.  I don't often say that about governmental offices!!!  🙂

 

We have had good help too. I’m very thankful. It’s still complex. 

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The sardonic side of me smirked at this post. 

 

Best set advice from me?

Nurture this mindset:

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.”

 

And, in retrospect, I wish I’d bought nursing home insurance at 37. 

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One thing I've done is prepare a file (both physical and digital) with every single bit of information I can think of to help my children out if they end up needing to take over everything.  This includes all passwords, credit card info, bank info, insurance info, names of our financial planner and CPA, where to find important documents, etc. etc.  I've told all of my kids about this file, and I update it whenever necessary. 

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11 hours ago, Bambam said:

One thing I see with older people is when they get to where they need more help/possibly a nursing home, the children want the parents to move closer to them so they can help more. Whereas that sounds great, the old person is leaving their community of friends, their established doctors, their regular stores/restaurants/bookstores/hanging out places/volunteer activities/whatever. And if the older person is not in condition to go out and about and make new friends, familiarize themselves with the new area/stores/restaurants/doctors/etc - it makes it really hard on them.  If they relocate, they don't have the visitors and support system they used to - they only have their kids - which, in turn, I think, puts more of a burden on the kids to help their elderly parents - and often when the kids already have a full and busy life. 

So, if you think this may be a possibility in your life, and your child is in a place where they probably will stay, move closer earlier - when you are still fully functional so you can get out and make friends, establish your support system, establish your doctors/dentists/eye doctors. 

This is a really good post. 

I am so glad I didn't have my parents move to us in VA, as we have since moved here. They would've been fine, I think, but they are better off staying where they are familiar with their surroundings and have other supports. 

I hope my kids choose a home close to each other, but the likelihood is poor as this is not our family model. I think we will probably be like my parents--choose a place and give our kids freedom to live wherever. but I sure wish they would choose to settle near us. 

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5 hours ago, MissLemon said:

I am glad for the reminder, too.  I didn't realize that losing muscle mass contributed to falls.  Definitely going to look into gym options this week!  

Something like yoga (body weight exercises) would work too - it doesn't have to be gym machines or weights.

Part of it is joint instability.  I see this with my mother: she talks about how she's become double-jointed - her joints will go in unusual directions.  There's no longer enough muscle to hold them in place.  She still has more muscle in her legs than a lot of elderly people (she can still stand up from a chair without using her hands) but the effect of wasting is quite marked.  She refuses to join the exercise classes in her care home.

We are walking/running/climbing animals, and even into old age - unless there are specific reasons not to - we need exercise (whether incidental or deliberate) to keep our bodies functional.

Here's the abstract of a scholarly article on the issue (muscle weakness is also called sarcopenia): https://www.nature.com/articles/ncpneuro0886

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5 hours ago, BlsdMama said:

The sardonic side of me smirked at this post. 

 

Best set advice from me?

Nurture this mindset:

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.”

 

And, in retrospect, I wish I’d bought nursing home insurance at 37. 

That's a great quote. Do you know who said it? Or did you?

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I’d like to say that I’d move to be near my kids. But an elder moved to be here for care because there was no one in the previous location, and my dh has had to pass on two opportunities to promote/relocate because now we feel anchored here - it would be very hard on the elder to make another move. So, that has me thinking that we will be planning very well for ourselves and researching communities that have a continuity of care plan (independent to assisted to skilled nursing). Not sure what we will find but that’s where we’ll start looking  and preparing financially for that . 

Financially, from experience, the most helpful things for the adult children will be information, authority, and cash flow. That means a well organized, accessible binder, including a POA, and a safety deposit box with a good working amount of cash. See the book Get It Together for binder ideas. 

If we have a continuing income stream, perhaps form an LLC and get those assets out of reach of a Medicaid lookback. Keep financial business clear and transparent for the same reason. Don’t want to count on Medicaid, but if needed, I don’t want the kids to have to hire three lawyers to figure things out. 

Swedish Death Cleaning. 

Good health and fitness habits. 

Good church community. 

Those are my basics. 

[I first put this reply on bethben’s thread, but it was meant for this one. Forgive the duplicate post.)

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1 hour ago, Jaybee said:

That's a great quote. Do you know who said it? Or did you?

 

That’s CS Lewis. 

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7 hours ago, BlsdMama said:

And, in retrospect, I wish I’d bought nursing home insurance at 37. 

Dh and I were just talking about this.  We bought long-term care insurance when we were about that age, and the premiums have remained very low.  It won't cover everything, but it will provide a lot of help if/when we need it.  

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6 minutes ago, klmama said:

Dh and I were just talking about this.  We bought long-term care insurance when we were about that age, and the premiums have remained very low.  It won't cover everything, but it will provide a lot of help if/when we need it.  

There are no longer any companies offering this in the UK.  The nearest product is an immediate need annuity, which you can buy when you enter a care home.  On average, it costs the equivalent of four years of care home fees (a bleak calculation, if you think about it) in order to cover costs for the rest of your life.

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I have been thinking about this. The past few months have been taken up with dmil moving and selling her home and I have thought about what worked and what could have been made better. She was an excellent role model even though it was hard and stressful for everyone. And I think that there are things to do and ways to be that you can start now. 

  • recognize that death, illness, and accident can and will happen to you
  • prioritize retirement savings
  • build strong bonds with friends and community
  • stay as healthy as you can
  • recognize that your adult children are separate from you and have worries of their own- do not presume that they will be able or want to take on your problems
  • streamline your finances so that it is simple for a surviving spouse or children
  • fix up your house or move to an age-in-place one- Think hard before spending thousands- it might be better to downsize before you "need to."
  • learn new things- phone, computer, Uber
  • travel alone- visit friends and children, get used to it. People are not always going to come to you. Sitting around waiting for people to come over is a dumb way to spend the time you have remaining
  • learn the limits of medicine- just because you can have surgery/treatment-doesn't mean it is a good idea

There is a big difference between 75 and 80. Plan for it. My dmil, though in good health, has really slowed down since turning 82.

But I think the biggest thing is to be a grown-up about the future. Your children do not owe you anything. Do not expect that they will up-end their life or not move to keep you company or keep you in your house. You will have to stop driving. You will need to go to rehab. You will need to move and sell the house.

Be an adult about it.

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1 hour ago, Seasider too said:

 

That’s CS Lewis. 


Indeed it is! Wise man.

1 hour ago, klmama said:

 

Dh and I were just talking about this.  We bought long-term care insurance when we were about that age, and the premiums have remained very low.  It won't cover everything, but it will provide a lot of help if/when we need it.  


Not just purchase but make sure that it has a clause that it appreciates.  I can't remember the verbiage, but essentially it needs to cover future usage.  Someone in the family had purchased it and it would cover X amount per month.  Well, 20 years later and it's practically useless.  My parents had to pay higher premiums but it essentially appreciates with the rise in costs.  Be careful of it. 

If I'd known what I know now.

The OTHER thing is to get term life insurance YOUNG and for as long as you can and NOT just through a workplace.

I am grateful to have a lot of life insurance.  I'd pay that before I'd pay the mortgage at this point. 😉
DH has a lot of life insurance - however, it's *all* through his work.  He has high blood pressure, a few extra pounds.  When we went to get it outside of his employment, it was pretty spendy and will probably only get moreso. 

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