A Fate Worse Than Death?
You know the story of the grasshopper and the ant. Two good friends, spending the summer very differently. The grasshopper played and played. The ant prepared for winter. When the seasons finally changed, the ant was comfortable and could relax and enjoy. The grasshopper perished slowly and painfully over the winter months.
That fable is so old, yet it’s as true in 2021 as it ever has been. Here we are looking at the Baby Boomer generation- one of the biggest in history- crossing the line to 70 plus. They are doing it at a time when medical advances can keep us alive longer than ever. And with those great gifts, come great costs.
People, for the most part, don’t work until they drop dead anymore. There is a stage of decline that is often slow. At first, people can do almost everything they could before with small adaptations or changes in speed. But what happens when they can no longer completely care for themselves? What happens when they don’t know that they can’t or don’t want to admit it? Who steps in and how?
How do you plan for a possible incapacitation, especially if you don’t have that magic crystal ball that tells them exactly how everything will go down? The secret is acceptance and balance- and it is hard to get to without some work.
First, accept that statistically speaking you will most likely have some period of time when you will be incapacitated and need to be dependent on others. Second, be realistic about who those “others” should be- a spouse, friend or a sibling of a similar age may not be much help when you need them the most, as they may be in the same boat you are. Third, you need to balance what you want with what others can give.
You may want to believe that you and your spouse can “muddle through” just fine. And you might be right, but when things get rough- bills are not getting paid, doctor visits are getting missed, and you may be putting other’s lives in danger being behind the wheel, then what?
You may want to believe your friends and kids will come visit and make sure you have what you need, but what if they can’t make it as often as you need (not just want) them to? Is that fair to them?
Our best advice is this: plan for the worst, hope for the best, and COMMUNICATE. Plans with contingencies that are communicated effectively with your support people will save much heartache and suffering for you and those you love. How do you plan? Start with hoping for the best.
Plan A: Live life to the fullest, at home, with my car, and die peacefully in my sleep one night before any issues begin.
Plan B: Once my support people start noticing a change they are concerned with- one that could cause harm to myself or others, I will accept their help and suggestions to move on to the next stage of MY plan. My Plan B will include transportation, housing, and medical care that I developed, accepted and made sure I could afford long before now. I will have communicated it with my support people, and they will have bought into MY Plan or opted out of being my support people. I will trust my younger self to have made these decisions, and I will trust my support people to bring it to my attention that now is the time to implement. I will review my Plan B every year with my support people until I need to implement it.
Plan C: Also developed long before needed. It includes the doomsday scenario where I am completely physically or mentally incapable of supporting myself. My support people will know I trust them to make decisions that I may not have anticipated, however, I will try to spell out in advance as much as I can for items like end-of-life care. I will review this each year with my support people, too.
None of this sounds fun to plan, we know. On the other hand, what is worse is living through it with no plan. It’s like watching a tornado rip through a person’s life in slow motion. We’ve seen it, we’ve cried about it, and we want you to avoid it. On the other hand, planning will bring a deep sigh of relief for those who love you and a sense of empowerment to you. We’ve seen it, we’ve let out a huge sigh of relief, and we want to help you with it. Let us know how we can help.