Since January, both my husband and I have been on the front lines with eldercare for each of our dads. In between, Mark also was the financial and medical rep for friend who was dying, has died, from prostate cancer. Needless to say, we have had to stretch our emotional, spiritual and physical muscles. And we are finding it is more or a challenge to stretch those muscles now that we are in our sixties. I call us "young seniors" and, fortunately, technically and medically that is true...so far. But stress takes its toll and if it were not for the generosity of one of my friends we would probably be feeling worse than we do.
Once a month, we "escape" to Phoenix and stay 2-3 days at my friend's condo which she often does not use on the weekends. We usually eat out once or twice at a local restaurant, but primarily we cook in and have really slow days with no particular plans. In March, we attended the last spring training game of the Dbacks which was at Chase Field. We had the fun of the stadium without the intensity of the full season. We also revisited the Japanese Garden and felt the serenity of the green landscape amidst the urban desert. Last month, we rejoined the Phoenix Art Museum. We did it on our last vacation day and did not have time to take in the Hollywood Costume exhibit. That, we intend to take in when we next return. But we did have time to visit the Red Carpet exhibit and visually savor our favorite wing where the Impressionist paintings and sculptures are part of the permanent museum collection.
As we wrestle with the medical care system (I use the term loosely because, often, the reality is that the fragmentation and cost-cutting elements are disparate and frustrating), deal with phone calls, and emails--we often share the concern we have about our own eldercare future. Once both my parents made it to 90s, their quality of life took a dive. I see the same with my father-in-law. Yet our culture resists the reality of death and the medical world, on the one hand, seeks to prolong life at whatever cost and regardless of its quality and, on the other hand, the medical world sets up barriers for compassionate care.
We can do our best, as baby boomers, to pretend it will be different for us, but it may be worse. As drug costs go up for last stage of life care, will we be braver and refuse to buy into the possibility of 2-6 more months of life when a week of pills could cost "the system" $10,000 or more? What are we doing now to prepare for our oncoming eldercare?
I don't have answers today. I know Mark and I try to exercise, eat wisely (with the occasional slip into comfort food land), and, each on our own way, we practice other healthy habits. We hope we have a decade of "good years" left, but, as we are reminded by the health crisis situations of several peers, there are no guarantees we will have another good year. We only have today. So, today, we walked on Mountain Avenue, watched baby bunnies hop through a fence and heard baby birds squawking for food from their nest in a blooming saguaro. We are grateful for our late cool spring weather, for our home, friends and each other. And hope for another tomorrow.