As I face the reality of the high costs of my Mom’s care, I’m working on creating my ideal aging story line. What I realized as I have watched my parents was that while most of us bought into the traditional concept of “retirement” with open schedules and the pursuit of hobbies, that model undermines healthy aging. We all want to live a life with purpose and that doesn’t stop in retirement. The idea of free days conflicts with staying engaged, accountable and productive. I decided I needed to change my life so that my pursuit of purpose didn’t feel like work. I found it when I launched MemoryBanc.
To help me plan better for the rest of my life, I’ve been reading up on as well as attended an event recently hosted by AARP on what to consider if you want to “age in place.” The real number is much more complex than just adding up the changes you may need to make your home more livable. As I recently mentioned, my Mom is living in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) that involved a very large sum of money that was used as a down payment and considered “pre-payment” toward needed services. Even with that she’s paying a base fee of around $7,500 a month to be in Assisted Living. As I recently shared, some months have been closer to $12,500 as we have had to hire extra assistance since typically Assisted Living is not designed for individuals with cognitive loss.
If you want to stay in your home, you should consider how it might suit you should you develop mobility issues. However, my parents only temporarily faced that issue when my Dad broke his hip and needed a place to rehabilitate. Thankfully, one of the benefits of the CCRC agreement was that my Dad could move into their skilled nursing until he was able to manage on his own. My Dad was able to recuperate and as soon as he could manage stairs, they were back in their 3-level town home.
I believe there are other factors more important to consider than the cost of adapting your home for your aging lifestyle. In our case, both my parents developed memory issues (Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer’s). They were unable to recognize their inability to manage. Had they not been in a CCRC, my siblings and I would have had to petition the court for conservator and guardianship of my parents. If you know someone with dementia, you know that while they might not remember if they just ate dinner, they will know that their child has taken them to a public court proceeding and is charging that they are unable to manage their own affairs. None of us could have foreseen this scenario, but we were days from filing the petition when their CCRC acted and helped us manage a move into Assisted Living. Even with estate plans in place, we were faced with this difficult choice.
I haven’t gotten very far but do know that now, there are no perfect answers. What I hold true is that having your family members involved and having these discussions early are the key to making the most of the rest of your life.Studied.