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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Aging in place

My 89 year old Mother in Law died last night. In her own bed, at home in rural northern Alabama. My late Father in Law also passed away at home, in 2010.

I shot that photo with my iPhone back in December during our holiday visit. It has been a difficult couple of years. She was struggling to recover from spinal surgery in the wake of her latest fall mishap. Medical care (or anything else) is not conveniently nearby. "Aging in place" is mostly easier said than done, particularly in the boonies.

Marguerite had always been fiercely independent and active across the 41 years I knew her. She cultivated a half-acre garden every year during most of that time, putting up three chest freezers worth of vegetables and shelves filled with Mason jars. It's the family home place, formerly a bustling dairy farm started by my wife's late grandfather (they sold the herd after Uncle Hubert died, and Cheryl's cousin Scotty now does mostly large-scale commodities farming on the property). A great place, but really "rural."

When the day came to finally take the car keys away a few years ago, it did not go down well. When the time came to do P.O.A. and then bring in paid home care assistance, that did not go down well either. A couple of my wife's siblings who live nearby had to quietly bear the brunt of her considerable ire.

I am very sad today. My wife has had to cut short a trip to San Diego, and arrangements are in process. We've known this day loomed. Ya hate to lose 'em.

Both of my late parents spent their final years in long-term care, four years for my Mom, seven for my dementia-addled Pop. The cost was huge, both in financial terms (estate taxes were not an issue for me), and loss of their personal dignity.

No easy answers.

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