The morning rush is on, and as I run around the house like a crazy woman trying to get backpacks, diaper bag, purse, lunches, keys and the inevitable lost shoe, I’m kicking myself once again. Why don’t I do this stuff ahead of time? It seems to take just a few moments to do those preparations the night before, but in the morning, time always gets away from me, and those little quick things seem to drag on and on. Why do I do this to myself? Most nights I drop into bed exhausted, having lived one more jam-packed day. Often I’ll think about what needs to be done in the morning, but I’ll “indulge myself” by forgetting it all “just for tonight” and leaving it for tomorrow. Thinking back, I can’t recall one single time I’ve been glad I put things off for the morning that could have been done the night before.
I suppose my children and I will survive those crazy mornings relatively unscathed, but there are some things in life about which none of us should procrastinate. As I work each day with seniors and their families, I often see the difficulties produced when individuals put off thinking about and preparing for long term care needs as they age. Kind of like that yearly physical exam, or a termite inspection, long term care can easily be something we put off for a later time, thinking it isn’t an urgent need today. However, an event like a fall, stroke, or heart attack can often create a “rush” much like my morning frenzy as family members or caregivers try to piece together long term care solutions. Often the person in need of care is able to have little to no input or control over a last-minute decision about his or her well-being and lifestyle.
Thinking about long term care doesn’t have to be a tedious process. Exploring the various options now available for Americans as they age can actually be an interesting project. Just as we have the “American dream” of life with a family, picket fence, and successful career, Americans want to have options and preferences as they encounter the inevitable processes and challenges of aging. Taking time to check out the options available and think over which options best fit you and the lifestyle you want to live can save time, money and heartache when the time comes to actually implement a long term care plan. Since nearly all of us will have long term care needs at some point in our lives, putting off these thoughts until later isn’t something any of us can afford to do.
Tonight, I think I’ll lay out everyone’s clothes, make lunches, and place everything we need beside the front door. Then I’ll watch my little ones file out the door with happy smiles and a peaceful mama in the morning. As I walk into work, I’ll see some of my dear friends who live at St. Francis Villa Assisted Living, ladies who could tell me from experience how a little advance preparation makes for happier babies and happier mamas. They could also tell you how a little advance preparation makes for much happier families and individuals when long term care is needed. Don’t be tempted to “indulge yourself” by putting off this preparation for later. You can avoid the unnecessary “rush” and the loss of your independence by researching and expressing your preferences now. The peaceful process that your preparation will produce will be a priceless gift to yourself and your family when you are ready to begin using long term care services.