DINK #290 Having Those Hard Conversations…..

Posted on : 07-01-2011 | By : Lynn | In : Uncategorized

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Do you avoid having those hard conversations with loved ones that are about death and dying?  Well, I sure do. Yuck, I’d just about rather talk about anything else. Well, actually, it’s funny because I love waxing philosophical around theories having to do with what’s next after we die, but having to face the music and the physical reality of someone I love’s demise is not my most favorite thing to do!

Even so,  talking about death and dying with our loved ones is one of the most important conversations that we can have with each other.  I respect my aunt and uncle who while in their early 70’s (their in their spry 80’s now), had these kind of conversations with themselves and their children and made the decision to move half way across the country to a retirement community that blended in with assisted living and then final nursing care.  They sold the home they’d lived in for at least 40 years (that I know of) as well as many of their possessions. Their thinking was that it made sense for them to handle this kind of move and these kind of decisions while they were able to physically, mentally and emotionally.  They are blessed to have been joined by some of their oldest and dearest friends and they invested their money wisely over the years so that they could afford their accommodations.  This is the infamous aunt and uncle who two years ago hiked to the top of enchanted rock with my husband and me.  My aunt’s mom lived to be 105 and could hold her own in theoretical debates almost to the end of her days so I have a feeling that they will be around to enjoy many more years with us.   I so admire their desire to handle things when they did so as to not burden their family with difficult to figure out decisions later on down the road.

If you’ve been reading my recent blogs, you know that I’m helping a good friend of mine find her final home.  She is only 63, but has a lot of health issues.  During our visit today we had quite a chuckle because it seems that not only has one of her care givers grown a crush on her but it appears that a pharmacist who she has come to know and who delivers her prescriptions has taken a cotton to her as well.  She just got out of the hospital on Wed and when he dropped off her medications on Thursday after a friendly chat he said, “V, why don’t we go out for a meal when you get through this chemotherapy”.   She chuckled and said to me, “and this is happening at a time that I am so weak, with a bald head and full dentures!” I told her it must be her pheromones but secretly I know it is because of her mind. This friend of mine and I have had to have those hard conversations about not only her physical capabilities now what her prognosis will be after the last chemo treatment.  So far, most of the facilities I’ve looked into with a private room/apartment run about $3200 (room/board, meals, care) plus incidentals (extra care, transportation) which could run up to an additional $650 a month which  could put you at $4,000/month and up (so $48,000 a year or more!) so the length of time that you may be on this planet with us, as good as you can guess, is important when figuring out budgets.  Depending on my friend’s prognosis she could live in a really nice facility with all the amenities till the end of her days or she might have to live somewhere that is not quite as nice, but can see her through the long haul (for years instead of months).

I so hope that I live a good happy, healthy, life with all my faculties and good strength because after visiting the assisted living place today I realize that I would be a renegade old lady compared to many of the people I ran across.  Back at my friend’s retirement community, I ran into one of her neighbors after she came in from her walk using her walker. She is in her 80’s and full of piss and vinegar. We had a nice chat about the feral cat that she’d spotted on the other side of the window. Evidently she feeds the cat even though the community discourages it and told me that she much preferred her fur friends to the two legged kind. Now there is a like-minded person.  I wish I had gotten her name and number for my friend because I have a feeling they would get along like two peas in a pod (even though they are both of the two-legged variety).

What I didn’t like about the assisted living place that I visited today was that although the young director was a nice as she could be, her voice was about two octaves higher when talking with me then I suspect it normally is in everyday conversations and she was just way too chirpy.  I don’t trust someone that chirpy and so I’ve immediately got to find the Navajo thread!  There was also some of the seniors singing various hymns in the lobby which just felt too contrived to me.   Okay, I admit that I probably had just a wee bit of my defenses up because I was, after all, looking at my friend’s final home but I hope in the next 15-20 years some big improvements are made in the kinds of assisted living places we get to choose from.  My husband tells me that the wave of elder care for the future is with robots. He says that is what the Japanese are doing.   I thought he was pretty gauche to consider such a thing but then later on while enjoying our hot tub I thought hmmm, if we could get an artificial intelligence being like the one Jude Law played in A.I. Artificial intelligence, well then perhaps I could make do.  I’d  even consider a robot like  Rosie from The Jetson’s (David did remind me that she got around using only one wheel). If these kind of robots would allow us to live in our own home and helped us to take care of our animals and plants along with whatever care we needed–then maybe it’d be worth considering.

Oh well, my brain hurts from thinking about this so hard for the past five hours.  I’m going to go dive into the mystery novel that I just started and forget about these hard conversations for the time being!

Have you had these kind of hard conversations yet and if so, what is your experience, strength and hope in this regard?