We found my mother-in-law sitting in front of the computer with tears running down her face. Had there been any updates on Dad? He was in a nearby hospital while doctors ran tests to see why he was so sick – flu, Lyme, they weren’t sure, but he’d been there for over a week. It wasn’t an update on Dad that had her so upset; it was her inability and frustration of not being able to pay bills. She had no idea where he kept his passwords, she had no idea who he was paying and when, she had no idea how to do online banking.
Quite frankly, she was terrified that she knew absolutely nothing about what my father-in-law did while he sat in the back office of their cape home each month managing their finances and well, just about everything else. This summer they would be married 50 years – 50 years of medication lists, insurance policies, doctors’ names, financial portfolios, mortgage payments, cable bills, and if something happened to him in this moment, she knew where none of that was.
It got me thinking, if something happened to my parents I don’t know where anything is located – in fact, who is their primary care doctor these days?
I could see her frustration so we addressed it right away by walking her through how to do online billing. We then helped her sort her questions into a running list to get them off her mind – when do you pay the home maintenance crew and how much, where to find our insurance policy, and the list went on. Luckily, we could bring this to my father-in-law when we visited with him later that afternoon so he could direct us, but what if that wasn’t possible?
They want to age in place like so many retired adults do – this is their home, they know every nook and cranny and it feels safe to them. They know their neighbors, they love their walking route, their grandchildren (and great grandchildren) swing in the same rickety swing set their parents did, and their asparagus have never looked better. But how can we (their adult children) help them age in place and remain independent if something happens unexpectedly?
We were lucky that Dad pulled through his hospital stay and was back on track a few weeks later but the experience was a learning curve for us, maybe more an awakening of sorts. If we want to help our aging parents truly age in place, where do we start?
Homespire helps adult children and their aging loved ones in the Salt Lake City area. An Intermountain Healthcare company, Homespire supports people’s goals to age in place wherever home may be. Using a whole person approach, Life Care Managers (registered nurses) serve as central advocates providing the ultimate in care and guidance to keep seniors out of the hospital and ER, reduce their need for care, but most importantly keep them doing whatever inspires them. And helping us, the adult children, learn how to proactively make sure they age in place exactly how they want by offering tips and solutions to keeping important documents all in one place (download their essential family planning guide below), helping us ask the right questions when we meet with their health care providers, and understanding the signs that signal more support may be needed.
The whole experience was certainly an eye-opener for my in-laws. We’re ready now if another health crisis occurs. The more we talk about what happened the more we see the shift in their thinking from it’s all about ‘care’ and losing independence to what it’s really about: getting the support they need to age in place and live the life they want. They can definitely get on board with that.
Reach out to Homespire to help your loved ones age in place and live an inspired life.