By Deb DeArmond

A dear friend recently got the call. It wasn’t that call, but nonetheless, when you care for elderly parents, the call that informs you that Mom or Dad has been taken to the hospital is not a good moment. My friend rushed to her car and made the 12-hour drive to be at her father’s side. The next few days and weeks will be challenging as she contemplates the need to move him to a care facility near her home. She will need prayers, information, guidance, patience and more.

It reminded me of the times my husband and I were wakened from a sound sleep with news of an ambulance on the way. Those were long nights and difficult days.
All of us who are blessed to have parents who live a long life, have faced or will face theses experiences. And trust me, we are poorly prepared for them, if at all.

When my father had a massive heart attack while recovering from pneumonia, the hospital staff worked on him to restart his heart with limited success; each time they stopped compressions, his heart failed. A quick check of his records indicated that he had no instructions as to whether or not he wanted resuscitation if such an event was to occur. So he was placed on life support.

By the time we arrived in the emergency room and spoke with the doctors, that decision was a done deal. We were shocked, because Dad had always been clear with us: “I’m 84. I’ve lived a wonderful life. When it’s my time, no heroics, no life support.” Our assumption that he had made his wishes clear was wrong. He had never even discussed it with his physician.

The next several days were challenging as we worked to have the machines turned off, but the hospital refused to hear us. Dad died four days later.

One of the first things my mother said to us after the funeral was, “Let’s talk.” She wanted to discuss with us what had happened to Dad, and she wanted to take the necessary steps to make sure we never faced it again.

To be honest, it was a tough conversation; my dad had only been gone a few days. But looking back, I could see the value of that discussion and the benefits of a candid, even if painful, interaction. I’m grateful she was strong enough to initiate it.

For years, I had known where my folks’ wills were stored. Dad routinely got out the metal box with their documents and reminded me of their contents when I visited. I signed on their bank accounts. I knew they had some life insurance, but was not as familiar with it as would have been helpful. I felt comfortable with the situation however, and was not anxious about my ability to handle things when the time came.

But the world of living wills and medical power of attorney were topics we had never discussed. I didn’t know where the deed to their home was kept or the title to their cars. I had not been added to their safe deposit box where many important papers were kept. And although I knew they had pre-paid funeral plans, I had no idea what was covered or how to go about using it when the time came.

Hindsight is always 20/20. I would have done a lot of things more efficiently, as experience can be a harsh teacher. I’m fortunate that my parents were willing to share information and were open to allowing me to be involved. We just didn’t have real clarity of what ALL was needful to do, explore, decide, and secure until we experienced it with Dad. What we learned helped us be more in control and at peace for my mom, and I think it may help you too.

Look for Part 2 of this article on October 2, where I will share tips and ideas about how to be prepared. It’s not just for Boy Scouts.

Deb DeArmond: Deb is wife to her high school sweetheart, Ron, who showed her the path to become a Christ follower 38 years ago. Mom to three incredible sons. Gigi to two perfect grandboys. But Jesus is her favorite, and the guys have learned to live with it. Speaker. Author. Entrepreneur. She is a transplanted Californian who has been a proud Texan for almost 8 years and she Ioves the Lone Star state!

She is optimistically mid-life and excited about the next stage of life and what God has for her now. She longs to see experienced women find their passion and place in the body of Christ, show up and finish strong. One of Deb’s favorite quotes comes from author Agatha Christie, who said, “I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming… suddenly you find – at the age of 50, say – that a whole new life has opened before you.”

One Comment

  1. 9-18-2012

    Great thoughts to consider. Thank you!

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