“Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m 64?”
“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. Oprah Winfrey.”
Many spouses are dealing with broken down bodies , caring for aging loved ones. The Children of Aging Parents in the U.S. estimates that 73% of caregivers for aging parents are women. “Eighty percent of long-term care is done by spouses” says gerontologist Rhonda Montgomery.
So, “will you still need me will you still feed me when I’m 64?” is a serious love question.
When you truly love someone, you are patient, kind, and hopeful. You bear a lot of things together in good times and in bad, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.
Perhaps the most loving thing you can do for your parents, your spouse, and your kids is to set up a plan for the caregivers and aging folks.
- Plan for the future. Only a few of us may need some special care and nursing service. Do you know how to access these services in your town, and from the farm? Our health care system is under lots of pressure, and it pays to know the process you have to go through before you actually need to use it. The elderly who live at home may need home care or specialized services like a foot care specialist. It’s a myth to think that we all end up in nursing homes, but it’s the reality that we all benefit from a plan for our care.
- Think long term. As a life coach, I encourage people to plan to live to be 100. So at age 64, you’ve still got 3 decades of life and love in you! “As housing is often an issue, plans need to include a transition when independent living is no longer possible. The time to leave the family home is when you can still walk out of it,” says Montgomery. I know some farm kids who are nervous about their parent’s stubbornness in staying in the family home when the oven gets left on, and things get overlooked. Have an intentional conversation about housing options, and let the folks test out new living arrangements before finalizing plans. With the “pig going through the python” i.e. the baby boomers aging, there are more demands on limited housing options.
- Ask for help. Love does not read minds. You need to ask for what you need. If you are a caregiver, a spouse, a parent, and a full-time employee, you need to be intentional about making a “shopping list.” Things you are going to stop doing in order to stay sane and healthy. Love yourself enough to start a list of things that need to be delegated to others.
- Consider extended health benefits insurance. I called my insurance broker on this one, and he says the main thing is to know about the 6 month waiting periods when you make your extended health benefits insurance application for ambulance, hospital allowance, drug coverage, dental assistance, etc. Many people don’t plan far enough in advance, and then don’t qualify because of the waiting period. If I was 64, the monthly premium for extended health coverage would be a reasonable $8.95/month, and of course, the premiums go up as my age goes up.
- Make contacts. Get to know the support groups that deal with the aging concerns you have. You can do a search on the internet at www.google.ca or visit your local library. Many resources are available to help families support their loved ones who are dealing with aging, disease, and long-term care issues. Read Jimmy Carter’s book called The Virtues of Aging.
- Who, being loved, is poor? (Oscar Wilde) Special occasions like Valentines are the perfect opportunity to deepen our relationships by telling others what they mean to us. I’m a big fan of handwritten love letters and phone calls. You don’t need to spend much money to show heaps of love to your parents, your spouse, or your family.
Whether you’re riding in a limo, a bus, or a pick-up truck this month, I hope your family will know how much you need them and how much you care! Happy Valentine’s Day!
Elaine Froese helps families plan for change. She is a certified family business coach and writes from her farm near Boissevain, Manitoba.