Published on:

Do You Have An Elder Care Plan If One Parent Outlives The Other?

I know the above question addresses a topic that is not too popular. When my Father passed away due to a stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, my Mother was in her seventies and independent. She will be ninety-two on Tuesday, and she is still pretty independent. However, I am in an enviable position because one of my brothers lives close enough to her so that he can stop and take care of her errands every day. The other brother commutes to Chicago for his job and lives with her at night. Therefore, her needs are pretty well covered. However, the situation can become much more serious when each parent needs a different level of care. Could one survive on his/her own if one passed away? Please read on and be advised what could happen if you do not give this topic some thought.

My client is a cherished friend from my childhood. I have known his parents since I was 6 years old, a fact that made my job a bit difficult from a personal standpoint. My friend (who lives out of state) contacted me because we had re-connected on Facebook. He was aware that I am a Certified Care Manager and asked me to assist with planning for his parents. His Father would be celebrating an 80th birthday in the near future. His Mother was in her late 70’s. When this story began, I was informed that his Father had suffered a fall at home. He was receiving treatment at a hospital that was located in an extremely busy area. My friend’s Mother was having some issues with her memory, and was driving to the hospital to visit her husband on a daily basis.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was very happy to see both of them after 40 years. My first step was to arrange for the Father to be transferred to a local nursing home for purposes of his short-term rehabilitation. It was less than five minutes from their home, and alleviated some of the concern of the Mother having to make a challenging drive every day.

Step two was not as easy to implement as step one. The son and I discussed what was going to happen after the Father’s discharge from the rehabilitation community. We both agreed that they shouldn’t go home on a permanent basis, as the Father was still going to be bound to a wheelchair after his release. We also foresaw that his Mother could not take care of his Father at home, and that her memory issues were escalating. Of course, they resisted our advice. I made the recommendation that they consider hiring a non-medical home care agency to assist his Mother. Like many seniors, they chose not to implement the option because they, “didn’t want someone else in the house.” His Mother did follow through on my recommendation to visit several Continuing Care Retirement Communities that were close to the only son who lived in town. A Continuing Care Retirement Community offers independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care all on one campus. Initially, they could stay together at the independent level and order ala carte services for his Father. If his Mother needed memory care in the future, the community could accommodate that level of care too. They would always remain together in one building.

I was pleased to find out that they had made a commitment to move near the end of October. The commitment was made only after my friend had a terribly uncomfortable discussion with his Dad about who would care for his Mother if his Father passed away. A short time later, I was informed that the Father was in the hospital again. Unfortunately, he passed away before the move occurred. I was very relieved to find out when I attended the wake that his Mother was still going through with the move. The Admissions Director had found her a smaller apartment.
Even after the death of a loved one, a good plan was in place that addressed future events. So, the question remains, “Do you have an elder care plan if one parent outlives the other?”

For all you senior living options, contact Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors.