*Written prior to hurricane Gustav.
This weekend I took some time out of my schedule to visit my dad. My family and I drove down to the coast of Texas and overall we had a great visit. This was the first time my dad got to meet the newest addition to our family.
My trip ended with me having a heavy heart. As I drove back home I was praying that hurricane Gustav would not wipe my dad out, since he refused to come home with me. And this got me thinking about a subject that has plagued me for years. How am I going to care for my elderly parents in their time of need?
My dad is retired, disabled and not in the best of health. He lives alone and at one time had a home health nurse coming to assist him. For one reason or another that nurse was not a good fit and has not been replaced. This weekend I also found out my dad is fed by Meals on Wheels. This broke my heart. In that moment I felt as if someone hit me over my head. The gravity of his situation came crashing down upon me. Where have I been? How could I be so tuned out and clueless? Thank God for these types of charities but I should be the one making sure dad has what he needs not a case worker. Needless to say I feel overwhelmed and haven't a clue on where to begin.
Thinking through the issues and calculating the amounts of money required to help support him is daunting. The best option would be for him to move in with us but of course he will not. Because he says he does not want to be a burden. He is not at the point where he needs round the clock care and so I want to respect his wishes. However, I can't even put into words how frustrating it is asking your parents how you can help and always get a resounding everything is fine. And I know everything is not fine as I watch from the sideline powerless to change what's happening. I should clarify I am not powerless but this issue can be all consuming when I am pinching pennies to sustain myself.
My chief concern now that my mom is getting close to retirement is how I can tackle both situations. My parents are divorced, live six hours apart and I am an only child. I don't have siblings that can help me pick up the slack. Nope, there's just me and I am sitting here scratching my head. For some reason I always assumed caring for my elderly parents would be long after I was established and my children were out on there own. It has become very apparent that my assumptions were incorrect. The time to help is now and I am behind the eight ball.
I have to say, I wish there was some sort of resource for people like me and there is not. There is no dialogue happening for people in their twenties/early thirties dealing with this. There are no magazines, television or radio programming for this target audience. Everything I have come across that deals with this subject matter is for people who are older and have established their careers. Not one bit of information is out there for people like me who are just beginning their families and careers. I need to know how much I should be setting aside not only for my retirement and kids’ college fund but also how much I need to set aside to help cover the expenses my parents have. This is extremely scary when you look at the realities of corporate misdealings and no one's investment is secure.
If you are in a similar situation I would love to hear from you.