My Dad thought that he had done all the right things as a father and husband. He regularly updated and increased his life insurance so that my mother would be cared for if he died, and so that there was some to share around with his kids and grandkids.
He never knew that as the Alzheimer's and Parkinson's became too much for family to handle at home and when he was put in a nursing home - for a short time before he died of pneumonia - that the government required that all of his "assets" be used before they would offer any assistance with his care. The government thinks that life insurance is an asset to the one who purchases it, the ones who think that they're going to be leaving it for loved ones. Cashing in life insurance means that a policy that could have been hundreds of thousands of dollars is actually only valued at a few thousand dollars.
Dad didn't last long after the family was forced to cash in his insurance policy. It would have made more sense for them to wait for the hundreds of thousands of dollars to be issued to my Mom after he died and asked for what money back that they contributed to his care at the end. But the government is never wise or caring (no matter what defenders of the health care takeover would have you believe).
So, what little money was left paid for Dad's funeral and a short while of Mom's care in an assisted living center. The insurance money would have cared for mom for a long time in such a place, but the government didn't give us that option. So, when the money ran out, my sisters paid much of Mom's care costs until a bed could be found in a nursing home that takes government assistance as part of its payment and close enough to my sister that she could visit regularly.
Finally, she moved into a nursing home. Mom has dementia and requires constant care. She was happy in the small assisted living center. We weren't sure how she would fare in a large nursing home.
My other sister visited Mom two weeks ago for about 3 hours and was quite impressed. It appeared that being in a larger place, although sometimes confusing, offered more opportunities for Mom to socialize. She was talking - even in complete sentences. She knew my other sister's name - something she hadn't known for 2 years. Things were looking up.
My sister had been there on a Saturday. The following Thursday Mom was hospitalized with pneumonia.
She's still in the hospital, and I just received an email from my sister - sent from her Blackberry as she left the hospital - telling me that I might want to start making flight arrangements.
I haven't spoken to my other sister who visited her last weekend to see what her thoughts were. She was called off to Colorado to be with her daughter with the birth of her first grandbaby.
My baby sister has already had to be the one who was there when our Dad died and when her Father-in-Law died.
Perhaps just for her sake, I should hop on a plane to be with her.
Pneumonia is dangerous for the elderly. My Dad died from it. My ex's Mother died from it. My sister's Father-in-Law, I think died from it as well.
And so tonight I will be talking with family about my Mom's health, about whether and how soon she might be drawing her last breath. And with pneumonia, those last breaths can be very labored.
Pray for our family as we deal with this. Other than the dementia, my Mom has been so healthy that we quipped that she would be with us another 20 years.
Perhaps now that she's more alert, she's missing our Dad. Perhaps she's tired of being alone.