Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Aging Parents, Retirement, and The Sandwich
My mom and her husband are both in their mid-eighties. Their health is failing. They can't stay in their house much longer; it is falling apart around them. They can no longer do the maintenance, and they can't afford to pay someone to do it. They have finally admitted that they should move to a place more suited to their needs. But where? They have friends who moved to a condo in an assisted living community. Their friends love it there, and my parents would be happy to move there. But it's expensive and they don't know if they can afford it. There is a large up-front payment, then monthly payments after that. They have to sell their house in order to make the up-front payment. But their house is in no condition to be sold at full price. Should they spend money to fix it up, or sell it "as is"?
My sister and I live about 90 minutes from our parents. When we have family get-togethers here, we take turns driving up to get our parents and taking them back home. It would be easier if they would move closer to us, but my mom loves her friends, her church, and her art classes and hates to leave them behind.
My husband and I are approaching retirement of our own. We have about twenty years until we are my mom's age, and want to make the most of them while we can. We are staring Social Security and Medicare in the face ourselves. We are part of what has been called the "sandwich generation": still helping children and wanting to help parents.
It's funny how the years catch up with you. Not too long ago, we were middle-aged and relatively carefree. We are following the path of other Baby Boomers. I have heard about us in the news. Suddenly stories about Social Security and Medicare apply to us. It's scary.
So... what am I going to do? Here is my action plan:
a) Stop taking my health for granted. Quit being a couch potato. Get up and exercise; practice yoga regularly instead of just once in a while; watch what I eat and try to get my blood pressure and LDL cholesterol down. I would love to get off those medications. Also, avoid type two diabetes (which my mom has).
b) Stop spending money on things I don't really need. Twenty dollars will mean a lot more to me after retirement than it does now.
c) Go back to practicing meditation. I used to do it, and it gave me equanimity. I need that for the days to come.
d) I might think of others to add to the list. Trying to stay dynamic and imaginative!