Friday, October 5, 2007

Long Term Care

Let's face it, in most households, women are the primary caregivers. I know this was definitely the truth in my home when I was a child. I used to be absolutely amazed at all the tasks that my grandma accomplished in a day.

She would wake before 5 a.m. and have a full breakfast prepared for the four of us, so my aunt and I could eat and head to school (I was a student, and my aunt was a teacher). She would have my school lunch ready for me and hand it to me as I ran out the door. The dishes were always immediately done after every meal. Her home was always spotless. She would have a full dinner prepared when I got home from school. She could also find the time to wash an entire sports team's uniforms (my aunt was a coach) and have them folded and sorted by size. More meaningful to me, I played three sports every year, and although she did more chores in one day than I can possibly imagine, she never-ever missed a single game. She never missed one of my games, and she never missed a game in which my aunt was coaching. Even when she started developing Alzheimer's Disease, she still came to every game.

When she developed Alzheimer's, we were, at first, in denial. She was too. It was very difficult to start to realize that the things she had been doing for us repeatedly, every day of our lives, she could no longer do. When we had to make her stop cooking, that was one of the hardest realizations for me. This woman cooked full sit-down meals two-three times a day, every day, and there were always fresh cookies, pies, and treats. Eventually, we had to take all of the 'normal' tasks away from her. My grandpa stood by her and insisted that she would stay at home. For awhile, he had someone come in to help clean the house and do things like bathe Grandma, but eventually, it got to be more than he could handle, and he was forced to find a nursing home.

Thankfully, my grandma and grandpa always had a good head on their shoulders and their family's best interests in mind. They thought ahead and planned for the future. I know that my husband and I will take some action to plan for our future and possible long-term care or assisted living. I will insist on it, because I have seen the unexpected that can happen, and I want us to be prepared.

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