“Don’t wait for a crisis,” I told another friend, his mother recently widowed, lonely and overwhelmed, rattling around in a family house that was now her solo responsibility.
“Don’t wait for a crisis,” I told a third friend, whose widowed father-in-law dropped his daily insulin regimen after his live-in girlfriend left him.
“Don’t wait for a crisis,” I’ve told readers of “The New Old Age,” no doubt ad nauseam.
As just about everyone who has cared for an aging parent knows, getting old is both an inexorable and maddeningly unpredictable forward march. Everything is OK. Then it’s not. Then it is again. What felt early on like a roller coaster becomes the new normal. In between swerves and plummets, it is almost possible to doze off.
And planning for all possible eventualities is useless — after the essential documents are in place, the family has talked openly and often about end-of-life wishes, they understand the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, they know how much money is available and that it is probably not going to be enough.
Caregivers and their elderly charges both know, in a spoken or unspoken way, that on the horizon is The Crisis. That’s the one that demarcates “before” and “after.” Your parents...