I spend a lot of time talking with people about death. Their deaths to be precise, and what will happen to their stuff when they die.
It is an uncomfortable topic for many – and I meet with people who have signed up to at least have that conversation with me. Many, many people never even get that far, passing, even from old age without a plan in place.
I have been fortunate to watch family members who aren’t afraid to create a plan. I write this around the 1 year anniversary of my grandfather’s passing – the only person whose side I have been at when they passed away from this life. The only time I have experienced ones’ last breath.
Decades prior, he researched retirement communities (okay, probably his wife and my grandmother did most of the research) and they chose one. They moved in at a young age, made friends and had some great years of communal retirement living. Later, he would move from his independent living apartment to an assisted living care wing. Eventually, he moved to the nursing facility level of care area where he spent his final years. Family didn’t live immediately close, but I believe deeply that he was well cared for. Not just cared for in the dressing him and cleaning him sense, but cared for as in people there cared about him as more than just the job they had caring for him.
Places like that are becoming less accessible rather than more so, and I hope that will change. Most people (nearly all) that I meet with want to stay at their homes as long as possible – and I’m not sure anything else is in their realm of possibility. Perhaps that is because of a negative perception of being ‘locked up’ in some place with poor care. I have seen poor care facilities too, but the earlier we can plan, the better place we might find.
Here is a post about a new type of retirement community. This gives me more hope for our future. The vision brings together elders with young families, and this may solve another problem I see. Sometimes older people only know older people. Thus, if they don’t have children to take care of things after they pass, they might not have anyone to turn to. Meeting younger families may fill a gap for younger and older!
What plans are you making? How might you move into and then work through the discomfort to plan for an awesome end of life experience instead of isolation in your own home?