Making realistic plans for the future

Jun 10, 2022
Some time ago I sorted my last will and testament, as we seniors must do. Source: Getty

Sooner or later, most of us wake up in our own space. Welcome to the world. I have been a single woman for years, I was a young widow with a disability. I’m a solo nester now, seeking to live independently in the community for as long as possible.

In this aspiration for my future ahead, I’m inspired by two dauntless friends of my past. Both ladies passed away, with different health issues, but they dwelt in their units, right until their last day on Earth.

Jenny (not her real name), went blind and had mobility issues. However, she maintained her independent living until cancer had its wicked way. She had online shopping, a home cleaner, Vision Australia, and a gardener. Jenny even had a friend with benefits she kept hold of too, right till her end.

That was a love story in its own way. For a variety of reasons, Jenny and her male friend never married. She would fraternise in the evenings, then send him home to view “his” football team. Jenny would watch “her” garden show, then “her” football team. It worked for them.

So, here I sit, listening to birdsong in a beautiful flower garden. I have not got a friend with benefits, but you never know your luck in this big city. I guess I never grow tired of being an optimist. Even thinking about such fun is light-hearted boomer bloomer humour.

Being realistic for a change, what would happen if I needed or was advised to enrol in a nursing home or hospice? This did happen to a single lady pen pal of mine. She developed stage four breast cancer. She quit chemotherapy and had to dispose of her goods and belongings. After she found a home for her fur pals, we emailed farewells, as she accepted her destiny in a hospice. That was the hand of cards fate had dealt her. She was very peaceful.

So far for me, nothing bad has happened. Some time ago I sorted my last will and testament, as we seniors must do. I arranged for my younger sister to be my executor and have my medical Powers of Attorney. If and when I can no longer manage living by myself, I shall have to make enquiries about suitable geriatric accommodation. There would need to be an assessment, with a means test, to determine my eligibility and the costs of my room in a nursing home, with its services provided.

Someone, if not me, would have to dispose of my stuff, which is all the things no one can take with them. I have some strapping nieces and a nephew. That chore would probably be theirs, to hire dumpsters, and take perfectly good clothes and books to be charity donations. They do love a rummage.

I have learnt that the cost of a nursing home can vary, within limits. Nursing homes can provide assistance with everyday tasks, personal care, and nursing care. No one can ever replace a primary nurse, so give them all a gold medal.

Of course, leaving a unit to live in a nursing home would never be an easy decision. One of my little old lady friends became really frail when she was well into her nineties. She is still plugging along in her nursing home, with her cherished books, her laptop, and a cheerful attitude.

In nursing homes, there are basic daily fees, with means assessment for accommodation and care fees, which can also be means-tested. The paperwork can be horrendous. Anyone’s financial situation can affect how expensive the fees for the nursing home are to be.

These are concerns for any boomer. We have seen our parents go through all this. Just for today, I shall put it at the back of my mind, and enjoy a sedate senior afternoon. I take nothing for granted with anyone’s health and mobility. This is all thinking about the worst-case scenario. Now I wake up in my own space, as normal. What are your realistic plans?


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