The year was 1981. And my life was definitely destined to change. I was a senior in high school and with that coveted title, I had the privilege to alter my schedule to create free time. I was preparing for the usual senior year items including college applications.
The carefree days of senior year had arrived and I was able to have early dismissal every day (something that would be difficult, if not impossible, to do today). But as it turns out, things don’t always work out the way you anticipate.
My Nana had a number of strokes and the last few had taken a significant toll on her body. She was unable to continue to live with us and was admitted into the hospital. As the days lingered and her condition did not improve, the physician had recommended a nursing home.
The quality nursing homes in our area had a very long waiting list for anyone on Medicare and the private care costs were staggering for my family.
The physician was very kind and compassionate to my Nana and, as she waited for a bed in the preferred nursing home, he kept her in the hospital with around-the-clock care. He was aware that we were unable to give her the care at home that she desperately needed. This hospital stay ended up lasting nine months with her last months spent in the hospital.
This would never happen today as the costs of a hospital stay have skyrocketed and the rules for admittance to and retention at a hospital have become quite strict. The fear of not having proper care and the thought that my Nana would have had to either go into a facility with sub-par care or having our family make huge sacrifices to have her properly cared for in her last days was evident.
My last year of high school was certainly different than I would have expected. I did take my early dismissal from high school to its fullest advantage as I left school and headed to the hospital to visit with Nana. I always made a stop at Baskin Robbins for some of her favorite ice cream (coconut). I would not change one thing about those last months with my Nana.
I was able to learn from her about dignity and grace and how to endure the unexpected aspects of life and death. And I have a caring and compassionate physician to thank for that lesson.
However, I want to stress the need to prepare for potential long-term health care needs for you or your loved one. Life always takes us by surprise, but you can take steps to be prepared for the worst.
Long-term care (LTC) insurance can help provide income for the person needing care and, just as importantly, preserve the retirement savings to provide for the other person’s needs. LTC insurance can also allow for money that has been saved to be passed on as a legacy and not spent down during the last months of your life.
And hopefully, if this unwelcome stage occurs in my life, I will be able to have the same dignity and grace as my Nana. And, God willing, someone will feed me my favorite ice cream…chocolate chip! What is your favorite flavor?
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