I’m sitting in my mom’s hospital room, and the place smells of sweet clover and alfalfa. I hadn’t seen Mom smile for some time like she did when I brought her the bouquet. A true farm woman, Mom loves the smell of a meadow in bloom.
At home Dad is looking through Mom’s purse for the cheque book and debit cards. Mom’s always done all the banking and handling of the money. Dad knew more or less what was going on, but she did the actual stuff. From one moment to the other she’s out of the picture – the stroke left her without the ability to speak or communicate other than nodding or shaking her head. It’s a reminder to me, and to many of you, to make sure our partners are aware of banking procedures, important passwords, important payments. It can make life easier for the other in an emergency – and that can happen at any age.
The doctor asked the family, mainly Dad, to fill out a form concerning desired action taken if Mom’s heart stops, and also the level of care (especially whether life support should be included). Dad could fill the form out with good conscience. He and Mom had discussed this eventuality with each other. Would you know what to do? Even better would be a personal directive completed while healthy, for the event that you are suddenly unable to speak for yourself.
A friend of ours lost his wife some time ago in an accident. They had never talked about death, and what they would want the other to do. The friend was at a loss – there was no preparation for him. It’s not about worrying about the other dying or falling seriously ill. It’s just about being smart, and taking some simple steps to make things easier if something does happen.
Is there an updated will? Do you need life insurance or disability insurance? How would you manage if one of you is seriously ill and needs care in a hospital or home? That can run into a lot of money.
These are things we’ve been faced with in the last months with the heart attack and stroke of my father-in-law a few months ago (he survived both but is in the care home now along with my mother-in-law), and now again with my mother’s serious stroke. It’s hard enough being left alone at home, like Dad is now. It helps if the biggest problem is finding the cheque book.
One more thing: are you developing relationships that will carry you through a tough time? It’s been really special, in both my father-in-law’s case and mom’s, to see how the families rallied together in the crisis. It’s also heart warming to sit at their bedsides and receive the many visitors that want to greet them. Both have built up extensive caring networks over the course of their lives. It’s paying off big time. This isn’t a time to be left alone. Make sure you won’t be either.