What’s your Plan B?
Beth is a single woman living alone. Entering her home one night she tripped over her cat, leaving her with a torn hamstring that was both painful and limited her mobility. She was told by her doctor that this injury would fully heal, however she could expect that her mobility would be limited for several weeks. Her physician indicated she would not be able to drive during this time and would need to go to physical therapy appointments twice a week plus scheduled a follow up appointment to check her progress.
What would it be like if you experienced a medical situation that could not be handled by you and/or your spouse? How would you cope if you could not carry out normal activities for a short period of time?
The statistics are sobering: one-third of adults in the 45-63 age range are single. Most single baby boomers are divorced or never married. In fact, according to Dr. Susan Brown of Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research (NCFMR), one in three single baby boomers never married. This is an increase of 50% since 1980, so we know it is a much larger concern for the baby boom population than it was for previous generations. As we age, the probability that every one of us will face some physical condition that will require us to shift our routines or need help carrying out our “normal” activities is nearly 100%. We just don’t know when it will happen.
- Who would bring in groceries or prepare your daily meals?
- Who would take you to medical appointments and be your second set of ears during critical medical consultations?
- Who would walk your dog and take care of plants, your garden and the cadre of activities that you do without a second thought?
We all need to find answer to these questions that meet our emotional needs and our pocketbooks
One eldercare law firm in Los Gatos, CA has just launched a program called EASE. It stands for Emergency Advocacy Support & Education. Their program is built around the idea that if you are part of their program and you end up in the emergency room, they will dispatch an advocate to be with you in that hospital. He or she will be a trained advocate, have all your information (medications, advance directive, DNR, etc.) on file, and be capable of making informed decisions about your care.
The EASE program isn’t cheap, but It’s a darn good way to ensure that your needs will be taken care of in that circumstance. And it’s a good model. You may want to start your own home-grown version of it among your friends and/or neighbors.
Who in your community could you call on? Here are a few ideas to start your thinking: members of your book group/walking group/exercise class, parishioners of your church or synagogue, neighbors, friends, coworkers, cleaning person, gardener, other service providers that you trust.
How to get started
- Go through your daily and weekly routine and create a list of necessary tasks that would require attention by someone if you were unable to carry it out.
- Think through your current community and identify neighbors, friends or services providers who could assist you with critical, specific tasks.
- Firm up your list and set priorities.
- Look at what might get in the way of you asking for help. Do you need to let go of the belief that “this won’t happen to me” or “I can take care of myself no matter what”? Would you feel better about asking if you offered to provide the same for that person?
- Set a time to contact these people and ask whether they would be willing to be on your support team if the need arises.
- Consider how you might provide similar support to these same people or others in your circle as the need arises.
- Check out these solid resources for thinking ahead:
- Live Smart After 50! The Experts Guide to Life Planning for Uncertain Times, Chapter “Without Delay”, Anticipating Caregiving Challenges
- TTN Caring Collaborative Tool Kit
Peace of mind = Knowing who will be there when you need it
We can all expect that there will be unpredictable times down the road when we’ll each need some help to carry out the necessities of life. With a small bit of planning today you can greatly alleviate your concerns and limit the impact of situations that will require adapting your lifestyle. You’ll be practicing asking for what you need as your circumstances change plus it just might open the door to a stronger personal network and deepen your relationships.
If this has raised some bigger questions about how to leverage your current circumstances to create the best future possible, contact Mary for a brief chat. She’ll help you develop long-term strategies as well as practical solutions to keep you in the driver’s seat!