Have you ever watched a television show starring Mike Rowe (either Discovery Channel’s, “Dirty Jobs” or CNN’s, “Somebody’s Gotta’ Do It”)? This TV personality is shown performing difficult, strange, disgusting or messy occupational duties alongside the typical employees. We all know that caring for a loved one is not strange or disgusting, but it is VERY difficult and can certainly be messy (emotionally). As we experience this demographic shift, more and more of us will be called on to help our parents while juggling our childcare responsibilities.
Let’s use me as an example – this past weekend my 75 year-old Mom was supposed to babysit on Saturday night so my wife and I could have a date night. I called her to confirm the time and I noticed her breathing was labored and she sounded like she was in tremendous pain. After she assured me repeatedly that she was okay, I ran over to her house and took her to the ER. It turned out that she had an inflamed gallbladder and subsequent surgery. That meant cancelling plans for my daughter that day, asking a friend to pick her up from soccer practice and trying to find a home healthcare aide later this week. This doesn’t take into consideration any work conflicts or appointments to re-schedule.
Hey, this is part of life. I’m not telling a “sob story” here. I’m just trying to illustrate the fact that this is going to happen to most of us and we need to be better prepared. We need to have discussions in advance of our parents needing care. We need to plan for long-term care ourselves. Planning is the only thing that will keep us from being eaten alive by an extended healthcare event. People like me (in the sandwich generation) will plan for LTC and buy insurance – we “get it” and do not want to be a burden on our children (caregiving and financial).