Submitted by Kathy Nitz, GolderCare Solutions
November is National Family Caregivers Month. This is a very important time to recognize and honor the tens of millions of Americans, who selflessly give of themselves to care for those who are ill, disabled, or elderly.
When I was first married, we lived at the family farm and next door were my husband’s aunt and uncle—whom I immediately claimed as my own. Uncle had rheumatoid arthritis and had become bed ridden. Aunt cared for him 24/7 for years. At the time, they would have been in their 40’s and appeared to be closer to 70 because of the stress. Eventually living in the country became too much and they moved into town to be closer to services. I didn’t get to see them daily as I had before.
Some years later, Aunt came to our office for help. It was time to place Uncle because his care was more than she could continue to bear. She had held on to caregiving for years and it was wearing her down to the point of it affecting her health. I was concerned we would lose Aunt before Uncle.
Aunt felt guilty and scared of losing everything they had in order to place Uncle. I was able to discuss how we could get help paying for the nursing home and Aunt could remain in her own home and have money to continue to live her life. We visited nursing homes and settled on one where Uncle was placed shortly thereafter.
Because of the fear of the cost of long-term care, Aunt waited longer than she should have to place her husband. She was worn out and her health was suffering. But, because of proper planning and executing of a plan to pay for the nursing home, we were able to get past that fear and get the much needed care and help to pay for it.
They were able to spend the last years of his life being husband and wife again, instead of patient and caregiver. They were able to enjoy each other’s company socially rather than all interactions being the work of caring for Uncle. It truly was a gift to be able to let somebody else do the heavy lifting and she could again enjoy her husband. The caregivers at the nursing home became an extension to the family and were wonderful. After Uncle’s death, Aunt moved nearer to her son’s families. We recently celebrated her 95th birthday and she looks fantastic and was sharp as a tack! I don’t think we would have been able to have that party should we not been able to get the care for Uncle when we did.
At GolderCare, we speak with families in many stages of their aging journey. Some are comfortable in their caregiver role but want to be proactive and know their options looking ahead. Some may be nearing exhaustion and decisions about a higher level of care are more of an immediate need. No matter where you are in that journey, we invite you to contact GolderCare for more education and peace of mind for you and your loved one.
Kathy Nitz is a Benefits Advocate for GolderCare Solutions. She uses her wealth of knowledge and experience in benefits planning to help seniors and those who are disabled. For more information call (309) 764-2273 or visit goldercare.com.