Many of us work hard each day to save for a house, pay the mortgage, and hope to live in that house until our dying days. My mother and father owned three homes over the years, with them thinking that each one would be the home they would grow old in together. The most recent being purchased when he was 80 years old. My mother passed away less than 4 years ago and my father still lives in that home and has 18 more years left on his 30 year mortgage. Every hospital visit intensifies his fear that he will not be able to live alone in his home.
Sitting here today with my dad after he was recently released from the hospital along with some intense physical and occupational therapy. He’s 92 years old and all he wanted was to be able to go home. Our family has joined together to provide 24 hour care since he was released from the hospital, but even he is wondering how long that can be maintained. Up until this last time in the hospital, he has taken care of his own home, washed his own clothes, cooked his own meals, and cared for himself. In fact it wasn’t until 6 months ago that he finally made the decision to stop driving. He now must rely on others to get him to the grocery store and to his multitude of appointments with a variety of doctors. If it weren’t for the amazing neighbors that he has, living alone would not be a possibility for this long.
Later today we are going to visit an independent living community that has home health care and personal care available. We will have a tour of the property and then an early dinner with some of the residents. Complaining about food is one of dad’s favorite pastimes when he is in the hospital, so we will have an opportunity to head-off any culinary issues. My father has some very difficult decisions to make about his future. He has to decide his next steps. And I clearly believe he has to make that decision. Giving up the home that he and my mother built and have taken pride in all these years will be difficult.
I’m riding on this journey with him as are all the other family members in his life; we’re not drivers, merely the guides helping him make the best decisions that he can live with.
Every day we are alive, we have a journey ahead of us. Plan your journeys now, or they may be planned for you.