What you think you know, but you didn’t until you needed it…
by Kathy Patty
For the past few years, I have been taking care of my mom. In July of 2017, she fell and broke her hip and was in rehabilitation for two months. Then about six months later, our family noticed her memory was slipping. In December of 2018, she was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 88, and instead of running back and forth between two houses, I just moved in with her. She did five intense treatments of radiation; they would not do chemo or surgery at her age. In December of 2019, she wasn’t feeling well and was coughing, so I took her to the ER, and the doctors said the lung cancer had metastasized and was now stage 4. Mom died in April of 2020. I say all of this because even though she had a long life, her time, in the end, was short, and I was thankful that we had prepared for it. Or at least I thought we had.
About three years before all this started happening, Mom and I had a long talk about what she wanted and what I needed to take care of her. It wasn’t a smooth talk, but it needed to be done, and I am thankful we did.
One of the first things we did was go to the bank and make sure I was on all her accounts and the safety deposit box. So when the time came to help her pay her bills, we were all set – even though one of the banks froze her account anyway!
Then I had her show me where she kept everything; important paperwork, wills, trust, keys, etc. Then I sat with her while she did her taxes so that I could get a grasp of it all.
She gave me a copy of her living will, her medical power of attorney, and her financial power of attorney.
When I started taking her to doctor appointments, I found out how important it was to have a current list of all her medications, allergies, and past medical history. It did get to a point where she couldn’t remember.
The other thing that took some research was Mom’s family medical history. This was important for her when we found out she had lung cancer. It will be great now that we have it for future generations.
We were very grateful that mom had a long-term care insurance policy, and I am fortunate to work for a financial planner that could explain it to me! He also gave some excellent advice – call the insurance company and get an explanation of the benefits she had now. The biggest thing I learned was that $100 a day will not cover home care day and night, even with a 5% inflation rider.
I look back now, and the one thing I can say is, ‘Don’t wait!’ Have that conversation before it is too late. We never know where life will take us and when. It is not an easy conversation to have but well worth it for the ones that are left behind.
To help organize family medical and financial records, check out APC’s Live a Life That Matters e-book!
Do you have questions about financial planning, investing, or retirement planning? Send your questions to our Knoxville certified financial planners!