Yes, NINETY-NINE. She is only sixteen short months away from being 100 years old. And minus a rapidly failing mind – Alzheimer’s now has her firmly in its wicked grip – she is unbelievably healthy.
She lives in an assisted living facility in Canada. And, on her own meager funds, she cannot afford it.
This is a woman who was separated from her husband when my father, her only child, was only nine years old. This is a woman who worked much of her life…who looked The Great Depression in the face and survived. This is a woman who wore the same dress to MY wedding that she wore to my parents – because a) she had only worn it once and it would be a ‘waste‘ to purchase a new dress 30 years later and b) it was back in style. This is a woman who would put the butter dish in the fridge just to avoid wasting even a knife tip’s worth of the precious delicacy.
This is a woman, who for years, survived on only a few hundred dollars a month – money that came in the form of her own pension and her deceased husband’s. And still – that isn’t close to being enough to care for her in her twilight years – especially considering her heart is proving stronger than her mind. My parents supplement what is needed to keep her cared for and comfortable.
This is scary to me. How do you work your whole life and still end up without the money you need to make sure you are cared for? I understand she operated as a single mom for years. But I also know she was as frugal as frugal can possibly be. Thank goodness my parents are able to make up the difference.
Unfortunately, Grammy’s story isn’t unique. I was amazed to read my friend Susan’s Nana experienced a similar fate. Her own funds weren’t enough, but government assistance made sure she wasn’t alone.
So, here’s the thing…. is my 30’s too early to be thinking about long term care? Well not when I have a family history of women living into their 90’s! While my parents would NEVER say caring for my sweet Grammy is a burden, it is, most definitely, a serious financial commitment – and not one that I want my children to make on my behalf.
I’m lucky. My husband is a planner. He believes in retirement funds, college funds, long term planning and all-things-financial that will keep us safe, secure and financially independent. But more than I value his knowledge, I value his ability to teach me and respect my desire to be a part of our planning. I won’t be left behind. I won’t be the wife who stares blankly, uncertain of her financial status.
Planning for our financial future is as much my responsibility as it is my husband’s….and I am happy to say this is an example my children will witness.