Taking care of my grandma has taught me so much, and I wanted to share some information that may help you or someone you know. Taking care of someone with dementia, cancer, retirement living and nursing homes comes with many life changes and challenges.
I am blessed to grow up with grandparents and see them through the aging process. My grandfather lived till he was 89, and my grandmother is 92 to date. I love watching The Golden Girls to this day because they made aging look like fun and that everything will be ok. I am more afraid of aging than I am of dying. There is a positive about getting older. Knowledge is the most significant advantage of getting older. I think this is why it is hard to accept when the mind goes, or it's the body that goes; in some ways, both regardless. Our flesh is always aging from the moment we are born. My grandfather was mentally sound, but physically his body would not function, or should I say play golf. My grandmother's body is physically is healthy, she takes no medication, but mentally she can not take care of herself with Vascular Dementia.
Watching my mom care for them and transitioning them to NC from SC to prepare for their next season of life that will be their last was hard to watch. Cleaning out their home of twenty-five years and leaving their church home of twenty-five years, I think, was the most challenging time for my grandfather. My grandmother was ready to be back home. Their generation prepared to die. Their age bought their gravesites way in advance. My grandparents gave their money to their two daughters early, but the trade-off was for them to care for them. My saying now is, if you want my money, you will have to wipe my butt; if you do not need my money, then you will have to take my money and pay someone to wipe my butt; butt wiping is not free, lol.
When we talk about education and how a degree back in the '80s paid for itself, I am now unsure that all degrees apply the same now. My grandfather did not finish 11th grade, and my grandmother went as far as one year in college at Appalachian State for education but was a housewife, and she took that very seriously. Neither of them had cancer. My grandparents lived longer retired than they worked; they birthed two daughters and had five granddaughters. My grandparents even got to experience being great-grandparents. They had no debt and plenty for retirement living. My grandfather retired from Duke Power with a retirement package that included health insurance for life, a pension, stock, and owning their home at 56. I hear some adults say that they do not want to burden their children to care for them as they age, but I say yes, I will burden my children; you are supposed to take care of your parents. Parents brought you into this world, and your children should be the ones to help you out of this world.
The aging process got me thinking. How do other cultures take care of their families? How does their government help the elder, and how does their health care system help the citizens? Let me make this simple. I googled best health care globally, and The United States isn't close to being great! With our COVID crisis, this question made me think even more about our culture and how our government helps the elderly. The state of New York tells us all we need to know, right? The cost of nursing homes will make you rethink some things. I want to share my experience with you of the choices that you have. If you wish to receive "excellent care," then be prepared to spend an average of $10,000 a month for a nursing home. I am talking about 24-hour care, not assisted living. The care that matters because that is when you need someone the most. To have good care that will cost you around $6,000 a month per person.
There is no way to leave anything for loved ones with the amount it takes for health care and nursing homes. The biblical pattern is to live debt-free; Dave Ramsey says this is the way. I say it is "A way, not THE WAY." You can not take your money with you, give to Caesar what is Caesars and give to God what is God's, right? Of course, being in the bondage of debt is no way to live. If your time is worth more than money, what does your debt have to do with your faith to give someone your time? Sometimes life does not allow you a debt-free living. If our health care and aging cost as much as it does, do you think the average person can accomplish this task? The middle-class society is the hardest because you are always in the gray area of needing more or settle for less. There is the saying, have what you want and want what you have. The majority of our debt does come from our own doing, I will admit. I still believe we are set up to fail because of our government. If we are broken people living in a broken system, how can we live the perfect life when perfection is not attainable? I like to say progression, not perfection. I usually have a story that sets me apart. Being a "hairapist," I also hear a lot of stories. You can plan everything to the tee; you can do everything you are supposed to do according to the "media" and financial advisors, but no one intends to outlive their child. No one expects family drama and greed after a funeral. Guarantees in life, is there such a thing? Death and taxes they say you can count on; I add laundry to this lifetime guarantee.
Talking about aging is not a happy topic. It is a blessing to live a long life. There is no age that you can say is a good age to die. If I can live to be 104 and be functional, I would want to live that long, but being dependent on someone is not what anyone wants. My aunt passing at the age of 58 is a tragedy, but my aunt also lived a good life. I volunteer for Providence Health Care, a hospice home care organization where my grandma receives her care. When Providence found out that I am a hairdresser, they asked me if I would be interested in volunteering. There was no thinking about this; I knew this is something I wanted to do. It has been healing in so many ways. Empathy is missing in our government and our society today. I hope this blog inspired you and, in some ways, gave you peace that aging is not in our control. You can eat all the right foods, exercise, live debt-free, and sadly death will happen. Being a Christian gives me peace that my soul will never die, and I look forward to the day that I will see Jesus and live in eternity with Him and my loved ones.