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Proactive Childless Couple Preparing for Aging

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preparing for aging

Preparing for aging means planning ahead. Judy Morton writes about her neighbors and their proactive approach to aging.

The neighbors across the street and down one house are both 83 now, both with multiple health issues. They are elderly and frail — but they still try to look out for their neighbors. Yesterday, we had a new freezer delivered; she called us when she saw the truck, because she thought we were still out of town, to make sure we weren’t being robbed. So sweet!

He used to love to garden, and always has nice flower beds. We still see him outside almost every day, puttering around in the yard, picking up twigs and weeds. (Amazingly, though, for someone who likes to do yard work as much as he does, he has a really weedy lawn; he waters too often and at the wrong time of day, so the weeds grow faster than the St. Augustine.) She has confessed to me that she hates cooking any more, and worries about him falling in the yard.

While we were on the phone yesterday, she told me that they have put a deposit down on an apartment in the assisted living facility just a couple of miles away. It will be a while before the apartment will be available, but in the meantime, they have the time to plan for it, decide what to take with them and what to do with the stuff they are not taking, and get used to the idea.

She sounded a bit excited about the prospect of moving into the apartment. They will have others their age around them, staff to cook and clean for them, they already know several residents there and she’ll be able to stay in the local Women’s club; she said they have already eaten there several times and the food is uniformly excellent!

I wanted to kiss her! They have no children, so if anything happens to them, it will be up to nieces and nephews to clear out and take care of them. I’ve been there, done that, with my uncles, and it is NOT fun! I’m still doing that to a certain extent, with my aunt who lives so far away – and again, it’s quite a tricky path to follow.

My sweet neighbors are being proactive for themselves, and making plans for their own care, for their own futures. They have always been very independent – and by planning ahead like this, are taking steps to remain independent as long as possible. They are also considering their family members, and trying to make things easier on everyone – including themselves. I could not be happier for them – or for the rest of us. Everyone else living around our cul-de-sac is always on the watch for them, worried about their welfare, trying to help out any way we can. Now we can be assured that they have everything they need – including security and safety. Wish more seniors would be this proactive!

 

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Judy became a family caregiver when her father was diagnosed with cancer some 30 years ago. Since that time, she has helped care for most of her family as they dealt with various medical issues, surgeries, and the exigencies of aging, as well as the legal and practical issues that need to be addressed. It became a family joke that she "inherited her nursing skills from her grandmother" -- who was, incidentally, one of the first 100 registered nurses in the state of Texas! Caregiving has been one of the most difficult, yet rewarding, things Judy has ever done. After learning the hard way about Durable Powers of Attorney, Medical Proxies, Advanced Directives, DNR forms, Wills, Estates, Judy now shares her caregiving experiences in the hope of assisting others who are now on that same journey. Judy spent some time in a couple of on-line support groups for caregivers, eventually becoming one of the moderators for one group. She then founded the Facebook group "Senior Caregivers" as a way of reaching out to the many other caregivers out there who need encouragement, support and advice.