I am not a fan of chaos. I'm also not someone who leaves things to chance. It actually makes me uneasy to even think of doing it.
My 84 year-old father lives an hour's drive away from me. For the last couple of years I've watched his health and mobility worsen.
He lives by himself but could still get out to do errands and have coffee with friends at Tim Hortons. His medical needs were serviced by weekly nursing care for medications and bandaging leg wounds. I didn't see this as a long-term solution, but he was content with the arrangement.
Over the last year I would ask him once in a while if he'd thought of moving to an apartment or retirement/nursing home. To a place where he'd be around more people, social programs, nursing care would be available more readily and assisted living could be an option if his life needed to turn in that direction.
"I'm not interested in going to (insert the name of any local residence here)."
So my come-back would always be, "Dad, I don't want to deal with things when there's a crisis so please figure out your plan."
Guess what? Along came a crisis and there was no plan.
After a number of recent falls and skipped critical medications, he landed himself in an out-of-town hospital indefinitely.
Of course I don't want to say, "I told you so" but if steps were taken way back when to move to a home, this scenario could have been avoided - but here we are.
To make matters worse, his legal papers did not list my brother or me so organizing his medical affairs, bill payments and even forwarding his mail is impossible till our names are listed as such.
For all of the conversations that I've had with my father, I could tell you about the people he worked with at the CBC, his woodworking and favourite eating spots in town. Albeit talking with your adult children about moving out of your house when you're old is not fun, but it's a talk that needs to happen.
My dad's lawyer said the following, "The best is to do it in more controlled and relaxed way." I wish this was the case.
So I'm now dispelling this advice to everyone I know with older parents:
I realize it's a difficult subject to broach but if you don't do it while they're with it, having the conversation when things go sideways will be next to impossible. And getting the legal papers changed may be irreversible.
Doing these things now will prove to be a smart move for both of you. And something that will allow everyone to enjoy the years.
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