Yesterday I had breakfast with a good friend. She is 85 years old and her company is delightful. We play scrabble when I am in San Diego. She has been concerned about her mental health for some time now. She is fearful regarding her memory. She worries about Alzheimers, which runs in her family.
In the past when she would mention that she felt like she was forgetting more, I was one who said, don’t worry about it, it is just age. When she told me yesterday that she is being tested and she may be in early stages of Alzheimers, I stopped and thought about what I have said to her on occasion over the past year. Don’t worry. It is just age. Your doing fine.
Yesterday I made commitment to stop using these phrases. Although not a definitive diagnosis, this is a real and valid concern for her. It does not help to support her or anyone by brushing it off. So yesterday I truly listened to her and made a vow to support her in an honest and up front way. I will no longer say such things. My question really needs to be, I am sorry you are dealing with this and what can I do to support you. That is a much more helpful response than brushing it off or speaking lightly of it.
We spoke yesterday about the importance of having our houses in order. As single women we don’t have the privilege of relying on someone else to do anything and we really need to take care of our personal life. I have considered this a lot since Jim’s death. I think as humans we always think there will be someone there to help us. The truth is, we are all in this alone. Even in a good relationship, someone has to die first. I know that sounds morbid and I don’t mean it that way. It is a honest fact.
What do I need to do to get my house in order?
- Finances-I go through a yearly review with my financial institution to be sure I am on track with my money?
- If you have a trust, is it up to date. What about a living will? What about a power of attorney? Is that up to date? What do I want done with my body if I should die?
- My friend, is going to investigate extended care facilities so that she knows what her options are. Did you know that most retirement facilities offer a staycation. You can stay 2-4 weeks and test it out. I really like this idea.
What about pets? My friend, Nancy has offered to take Miss Elsie if something should happen to me. Once a year I check in with her to make sure she is still good with this plan. I have also provided money for my kitty’s care. Did you know there are cat retirement centers at places such as The National Cat Protection Society. They will take care of your cat until death.
- Does the family know of my plans? I have no children so it is important that at least one of my sisters is aware of my decisions.
- What happens if I have no family left. What if I really am alone? Well, I am not in that situation yet but I think it might behoove me to consider this and what my options would be at that point in time.
- I realized that I need to look for services that could help me maintain my independence: carpet cleaners, maid services, grocery stores that let you shop from home and have your groceries delivered, and handyman services.
- What about my home, when I have one again? Putting handheld shower heads in all the bathrooms might help if I ever need a chair to sit in while I take a shower. What would make my life easier?
- It is important to tap into your circle of friends. Some of those friends may be my life line if I need assistance. Asking for help and assistance is not a sign of weakness. Most people are more than willing to give of their time. I have to be the one to ask.
I know this list could go on, yet it a list I often ignore. I am in good health, I have new teeth 😁, and I still believe that I have that 20 and 30 something mentality, well I am going to live forever. The truth is, I am aging. I am alone and I need to be prepared.
Yes, I do carry a copy of my important records with me in my rig. Sorry they are hidden so I can’t tell you where they are. I try to remember to update my sister before I start traveling again. I am fortunate to have friends who I believe, though I don’t know, will gather around if I need help.
Today I am going to create a check list and get my own “house in order”. I believe I am pretty much set, yet I know I am not complete when it comes to this topic.
Today I make a commitment to my friends to really listen when important topics arise. Fear is fear and concerns are concerns and if I can help to lighten the load, even briefly, I will sit and listen and honestly try to understand and support the other person.
All we can do is walk each other home.
Janet I hope our paths cross out on the road, I just want to hug you and thank you for so eloquently speaking what so many of us feel. Safe travels with sunlight warming your face and star light warming your dreams.
Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I had a scare last year and took all the necessary steps to handle all that paperwork. I still do not know where I will end up if something happens but I have a sister and son that I trust to help me with that. Everyone no matter age needs to get their affairs in order. You just never know what tomorrow brings. Thanks again.
Thanks Janet, that note certainly made me think. Good suggestions for different situations.
Travel safe; see you when I see you.