Blog for SAS
Karen tried to balance caring for her parents with her full time job. First she went down to 4 days a week, then 3 and now she completely resigned her position. Another good friend of mine who had a fantastic career in Theater marketing left the field to care for an ailing relative and found herself out of the job market for almost ten years. Not only that but she stopped socializing with her friends. She became almost a shut in – really only having contact with her family. She was broke and when she attempted to get back into the industry; she realized she was no longer on top of her game. She ended up having to get work in a completely different industry. Less money and less satisfaction. I have watched and support dear friends in all types of health crisis both of their own and of family members. I have seen friends get into real trouble with their mates and their own children because of the pressure placed on them by the need to become caregivers.
Andrea and Doug ended up divorcing because the fighting and arguing about their ailing parents became bigger than their marriage. Neither of them had particularly close relationships with their parents and they were both expected to step up and to get much more involved on a day to day basis with them. Andrea was an only child and Doug had a brother who lived across the country – so the reality of care giving fell to them. It brought up a lot of unresolved emotional issues for both of them and it ended up driving them apart. Andrea ended up having a substance abuse problem and Doug just checked out of their marriage.
Lifecycles is a consulting practice I founded in 2013. We offer personal guidance to individuals, care givers and family members. We offer a holistic approach to managing and coordinating the details of the broad terrain surrounding difficult life transitions. These transitions are usually driven by a person’s health status changing. It can also include a lifestyle change – a divorce or a death for example. An accident, an illness or just growing older can precipitate a change in someone’s ability to maintain their current situation.
Starting Lifecycles after more than 28 years of owning a full scope insurance/risk management practice gives me a unique ability to approach a client’s needs from a very practical day to day perspective. Many years of working with people around their health, life and disability benefits also exposed me to a tremendous evolving body of knowledge that includes an in-depth expertise of the Medicare, Medicaid and Long Term Care programs that are available through our federal and state governments.
Having been in the insurance business for such a long time, my family came to look upon me as the “financial money person”. As such about nine years ago three of my mother’s first cousins approached me about being their Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy. None of them had children to help with this. So over the Passover brisket at my house this topic came up. At first I was flattered that they chose me. These three family members were highly educated – PhD in economics, an attorney and a college language professor. They were also all extremely private people. Although I saw them all for the major family holiday celebrations, what was going on in their day to day lives was not something I knew a great deal about. Anyway, I agreed, we signed the documents and that was that.
Several years later it was quite clear that their physical and mental status was deteriorating. They were all in their late 70’s and it was slowly becoming obvious to the rest of us that they needed help. Of course they refused to talk about it and wouldn’t entertain either myself or my mother access to their homes or their doctors to find out how and when we needed to help. Within two months time – all three needed to be removed from their homes and admitted to their local hospitals. I arranged all of that and then I went on to arrange to have all three released to the same Rehabilitative/Nursing Facility. No easy feat. I spoke with numerous health care providers, social workers and facility intake staff. With the help of the attorney who had drafted the initial documents; I activated both the Powers of Attorney as well as the Health care Proxies for all three. Within two years my cousins all passed away. I managed all their affaires. Getting them settled into their new living situations in both nursing homes and assisted living. I took care of all their bills, cleaned out their homes, sold those homes and distributed the money according to their wishes. I made burial arrangements, got rid of cars and accessed all their available work related and entitlement benefits. I filed tax returns and everything else one needs to do to manage a person’s last bit of time as well as the closing down of that life once the death occurred.
I was the person that with their doctors decided on how and if to treat their various ailments.
It was a very demanding and stressful time for me. I lost many work hours and time with my young daughter.
Afterwards I thought long and hard about my experience and realized that it gave me a gift that I wanted to share with other people. Part of the anxiety I felt was that I didn’t know what was coming next. As I would imagine most people feel the same was as I do; having more information about what is in front of you helps you make decisions and alleviates the fear of not knowing. I don’t like being forced to make decisions when I feel like I don’t have the information to evaluate the consequences of my choices.
Lifecycles allows me to share all the experience and information that I have with others facing change. Change is inevitable. Knowledge is Power. It gives me the ability to help give my clients a peace of mind. In addition to my personal expertise, I have partnered with other professionals to help clients go through their changes with the information and resources they need to consider the options available. We help people feel empowered to look at life changes with a positive outlook. There are decisions that need to be made, wishes to be respected. Giving families that support allows for life transitions to be made gracefully and respectfully with all parties having a voice and being heard.