Sex and Money. The two topics that generate curiosity but can be pretty uncomfortable to discuss in general, and in regard to Alzheimer’s especially. I admit I am not ready to talk about sex, but money? I’m not sure, but because I’m in the middle of doing taxes, money is on my mind.
How much do we have? Enough. We are lucky. (Around the time Ralph was diagnosed he decided to “retire” from his business managing rental property, much of which we owned. We—meaning I–sold most but not all of the property to create a nest egg while we live day to day off the reduced income from the rental property we still own.)
How much do we need?Frankly our needs are much less on a daily basis. We seldom eat out and we are not buying “stuff” any more. Our medical costs, including Ralph’s medicines for most of the year, are pretty much taken care of by Medicare and our supplemental insurance. Lately I have shelled out for some costly business expenses, emergency building repairs, that have eaten into our income and that’s been a little scary—a hint of how things could change on a dime.
What are the money issues to come? Housing and medical care. I have written before about the value of long term care insurance. We fortunately purchased it before Ralph’s diagnosis. I am hoping that if/when Ralph’s condition requires outside care, the insurance will kick in. But I worry that the glut of baby-boomer like us may bankrupt the long-care insurance companies before I need help so I am storing away funds just in case. And then there is housing. Despite Ralph’s current conviction that he will never leave, at some point the farm is not going to be viable, and I will have to decide when, not to mention where we go from here. Will we be able to sell or rent out the farm for enough to afford our next living situation(s)? I don’t know but frankly I am not ready to think about myself yet.
How well am I making financial decisions, alone, concerning our future? The truth is that I tend to go for easy decisions. And there are decisions—about whether to spend money on a given repair, how to keep our savings safe without losing ground, how to plan for our future needs. Ralph used to discuss these topics endlessly and we still discuss them, but he doesn’t remember from conversation to conversation what we last decided. I try to think what Ralph would do, but then I also remember that I did not always agree with what Ralph did when he was in charge. (I resent the money we are still shelling out to support bad decisions Ralph made about ten years ago—around when his cognitive loss probably began.) The real answer here is that at my accountant’s suggestion, I turned to a fee-based financial planner who advises me holistically and is available whenever I call with a question on the smallest issue. In some ways that financial relationship is more intimate than any other.
Before I posted this I had to run an errand. On the way home I stopped at Starbucks where man in line behind me was acting a bit confused in a way I recognized; when his wife explained that he had Alzheimer’s, I said so did mine. We began talking like long-lost friends (we use the same doctor and support system at Emory and are at similar points in the progression). One of the things she discussed the unmanageable cost of sending her husband to a day program while she was at her job. When I got home I found a response to my earlier post about driving and Alzheimer’s: A woman, who doesn’t drive herself, has realized her husband can no longer driver due to Alzheimer’s. How is she going to solve that situation? Public transportation? Taxis? Uber? I am suddenly struck anew by the financial realities that Alzheimer’s poses for so many and by the need for our support systems to come to grips with the needs presented. I realize I need to contact our local Alzheimer’s Association to see what services are offered and to volunteer to solve the problem of gaps between needs and financial cost—not where I expected writing about money to take me but it has…..