Baby boomers: Unburden your children
This is the letter to myself that I've been saying I would write for years. The reaction to the column I wrote about caring for my aging parents was so strong that it seems appropriate to take it a step further. Here goes.
Do not impose upon Libby that which your parents - certainly unintentionally - imposed on you.
Plan now for the time when you can no longer drive yourself to Corpus Christi to medical care not available in Port Aransas.
Plan now for the time when you can no longer drive - period. Know that a driver who should not be behind the wheel of a vehicle because of poor eyesight or response time is a danger not only to him or herself, but to others.
Plan now for the time when you are unable to prepare meals for yourself and Murray.
Plan now for the time when you are unable to maintain your home (laundry, the yard, grocery shopping, repairs, hurricane evacuation, etc.).
Plan now for what you will do - where you will live - when you are no longer able to live alone.
Plan now for the time when you are unable to manage your financial responsibilities.
Consider the options for all of these eventualities, and their attendant costs, and select the one most comfortable for you.
Realize that there will come a time - and you may not recognize when that time comes - that you should not live alone (whether it's you and Murray or just you alone).
Understand when Libby, or a doctor, tells you that living alone is not in your best interests.
Remember the toll it took on you, your family and your work to make the "South Texas circuit" from Port Aransas to Rockport to Corpus Christi back to Rockport and then to Port Aransas for the better part of 20 years. Your parents were fortunate that you were close by and in a position to offer that service. Understand that Libby may not own her own business and be willing to compensate for the time away from it, as you were able to do.
Libby won't live as close to you as you did to your parents. She will not be available to provide that service. You need to figure out how you will get to and from those medical appointments and, in a perfect world, who will accompany you to help make sense of all that medical information that doctors unload on you (most of which a person half your age can't retain - so don't feel feeble because you don't remember it all!).
You need to plan now for how your health care (things as simple as taking medications regularly and eating properly) will be managed. (Hands stricken by arthritis have a difficult time opening and closing those daily med boxes!)
I hope you are among the fortunate who will enjoy a full, healthy life, then just not wake up one day, rather than endure the discomforts and complications that age and ill health visit upon so many.
If that's not the case, please consider Libby. She's an only child, and likely will be living at least 150 miles away when your time of need arrives. She has a job, and by then she'll probably have a family and all kinds of outside obligations. Certainly she'll be concerned about you and want to make sure you're properly cared for, but it is not her daily responsibility to do that. Make it easier on her than it was on you.
Remember that you didn't have a child to insure that you would have a caretaker in your old age. You had a child because you wanted to experience the joy of being a parent and the pride of raising a capable person. You've done that. Let her fly, and enjoy the view; let her enjoy her life without unnecessarily worrying about her parents.
Make those golden years golden, not just for yourself, but for Libby as well.
Give Libby a copy of this letter, and keep one for yourself. When a decision has to be made, read this again.
With heartfelt wishes for a healthy, active and long life, I am sincerely yours,