Our Guest Author this month will help many who are facing aging alone once their family caregiving role comes to an end. Carol Marak is the founder of CarolMarak.com, the Elder Orphan Facebook group, and @Carebuzz Facebook Live events. She is an expert about everything aging. Herself a former family caregiver, Carol is personally equipped with aging alone expertise.
No matter what stage of caregiving you’re in, if you’re past it, in the middle of it, or it’s a paying job, the lessons learned will equip you for your own older life.
That’s what happened to me. After caring for both parents, I realized, “There’s no one here for me to do all that I’ve done for them.” A thought like this will quickly jolt anyone into scrambling for a plan. I’ve always been the independent sort, and now I face growing older without a spouse, partner, or adult children.
Like me, there are many women, and men, who find themselves in the similar circumstances. Growing older alone. And most of you, I bet, are caring or have cared for a relative as well.
The lessons learned give insights into what’s ahead. At first it’s scary, but soon you’re grateful because you know so much and feel prepared, sort of. You know how to respond in an emergency, what’s needed when making serious medical decisions and legal matters, how to prepare for a medical treatment, the out-of-pocket costs of medical and other necessities, what to expect when you ring a doctor at 2:00 AM, and how to arrange for extra help.
Above all, you know that one day you will need help! That’s wisdom you cannot buy.
But what people like me, aging alone, don’t learn from helping parents is, who do we count on for assistance, to help us respond to an emergency, make medical decisions, bring us a cup of soup, take us to the doctor, run errands, and more.
We learn what’s to come. But we don’t know where to start when planning for it or even thinking about it.
Growing older for my parents was totally different than what it is for me. They didn’t feel the need or urgency to prepare. Growing older was part of life and they had no doubts about knowing who would step up for them.
Caring for an older person is hard. Period. No ifs buts or maybes. And making a plan for that is even more difficult. Period. It’s takes time, effort, and patience. But making a plan when aging alone, well, that’s titanic. We question:
- Will my money outlast me?
- Who do I call in case of an emergency?
- Who will be my health care proxy?
- What if I’m all alone and lonely, who will come over?
- What if I’m sick, who will look in on me?
That’s the short list.
These are the tough questions and they’re the reason I started working on my future plan soon after my dad passed away. I’ve created a FREE starter kit for people who have the urgency to prepare. It’s yours for free to download here.
The thing about planning, it’s not meant to be a once and done deal. Instead, it expands our understanding of the kind of world we want and shows us a path we’d need to take to get to a better place–or, at minimum, the paths we need to avoid.
I believe we all need to have a sense of what’s next, and a vision of the kind of world we want. Planning for the future should deal with tomorrow’s problems–which if not addressed will inevitably leave us weakened, vulnerable, and blind to challenges to come.