Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me. . ."

by Maggie Sefton

(This photo is my mom in her mid-40's.  The photo below was taken last year.)

Most of you will recognize the title of my post today is taken from that old Beatles song where the rest of the lyric  goes  “. . . . When I’m sixty-four.”

Well, my mother is a good deal past sixty-four.   (So are the two remaining Beatles, to tell the truth).  Mom celebrated her 94th birthday this last May.  Amazing, isn’t it?  I wonder how many of us will make it to 94.  My mom is in really good shape for her age.  She has no major diseases, especially the Big Three:  Heart disease, Diabetes, and Emphysema from smoking.  She’s in a wheelchair now only because in the Spring and Summer of 2011, the arthritis in her knees finally got too painful for her to use the walker---and she always refused knee surgery. 

So----my mom went from Independent Living into what’s referred to as a Skilled Care facility.  The term “nursing home” isn’t used anymore.  Here in Fort Collins, Colorado, we’re fortunate to have excellent facilities for all levels of care, including that 2nd level usually referred to as Assisted Living.  Often patients are admitted to those facilities to heal and rehab from  injuries like broken arms/legs and various surgeries.

Columbine West Healthcare is the Skilled Care facility where my mom is, and the level of care is WONDERFUL.  I cannot praise it enough.  Of course, it’s 24/7, around the clock, real honest-to-God nurses on duty.  J  Plus, scores of Nurses Aides, female and male, all over the place----wheeling residents from their rooms to the various activities and/or entertainments that are scheduled each day.  

Doggies on leashes with owners attached stroll down the hall to visit residents.  Cats visit as well, but not every cat likes to be paraded around rooms.  So, they have special ones who are super tolerant.  Jake is the kitty who visits monthly.  My mom says he “looks bored.”  J   He probably
is, but he’s a good sport.  I brought my black shorthair breed Border Collie/Black Lab  Katy to visit last week.  She’s very friendly and sociable and loves to make “new friends.”  And my mom just laughs out loud---belly laughs---when Katy puts her little black front paws in Mom’s lap and reaches over to lick under Mom’s chin.  Katy does that several times.  I tell my mom that’s a “pack kiss.”  Since dogs evolved from wolves who are pack animals, the licking beneath chins is their version of kissing and affection. J

I’m grateful beyond belief that my mom is in such a wonderful facility.  I never worry whenever I’m traveling.  They literally hover over their residents.  They all have the little oxygen things in their noses when they sleep at night.  None of them will slip away from sleep apnea, that’s for sure.  My mom is very fortunate that her pension and my step-father’s pension cover almost all of the expenses, and her savings cover the rest.  These healthcare facilities are far from cheap, folks.  Oh, no.  And I figure very few of my generation---Baby Boomers—will be able to afford it.   I tell my mom that she deserves it.  She worked over 30 years in the Civil Service in Washington, DC, when the salaries were nothing to write home about.  She was also frugal and saved.  She was a product of the Great Depression, and that left a lasting impression on the Greatest Generation.  They learned well.   Our generation---not so much.  I fear we will see far too many elderly sleeping under bridges and wrapped in blankets in city doorways.   I’m an optimist by nature, but this subject is a serious one.  And, worrisome.

I would be interested in your thoughts.   Are you fortunate enough to have a pension?  Or a financial plan?   Or, just hoping to win the lottery?