My grandmother is a saint. For over 20 years, she has taken care of my uncle who has some severe limitations to living on his own and caring for himself. For a little while, she had some help from my grandfather, but, at some point, he developed some pretty big limitations himself. That left her taking care of two adult men, often to her own detriment. She is a classic caregiver.
I recently read the article, Women are Caregivers, but Who Care for Them? The article really hit home. Like so many caregivers, my grandmother put the well-being of those under her care above her own. The stress took a huge toll on her health and led to bad habits which took an even further toll. I’ve even watched her struggle to take over and repair their financial situation from missed payments and bad investments made as my grandfather’s health started to fade.
My grandmother is in her mid-70’s and her health has gotten pretty bad. Her mind is not as sharp as it used to be and her body fails her on a regular basis. Though, my grandfather passed away about 10 years ago, she still acts as caregiver for my uncle. It bothers me that no one is really around to care for her as her health fades. With three kids of my own, the best that I can do is to call regularly and lend support and to drive the four hours each way for a visit from time to time.
What bothers me more than anything, though, is to think that there is a chance that Beth will have to wind up taking care of me as I get older. I never want to see her have to struggle physically, emotionally, or financially because my health goes south. The key is to make sure that we are prepared. You should always hope for the best, but you should also prepare for the worst. Do you know what three documents every caregiver should have? Do you have them yet?
How about preparing financially in case something happens? Maybe you have ample retirement set aside. Maybe Beth would have enough funds available to take care of me. But what if something happened to her after I was gone? Would she have drained everything to handle my care? Thankfully, companies offer long term care insurance options. That’s definitely something that we’ll have to look at down the road here.
Are you a caregiver? Do you know one? Have you noticed your health of the health of other caregivers decline as they put others before themselves? How can you help?