Thursday, June 26, 2008

Moving My Father

I found out yesterday that my family must move my father into a new nursing home. He has been in his current nursing home for approximately three months. He has exhausted his Medicare benefit and there is a one year wait for a "Medicaid bed". The nursing home he is in now cost $5,500 per month. If we leave him there, my mother will have to pay this money until Medicaid kicks in. That could cost potentially $66,000 over the next year. We will be moving him in the next day or so to a "cheaper" nursing home that is $3,500 dollars a month. It is a Medicaid bed but until the Medicaid is approved, this amount must be paid by my mother. My two sisters are taking care of all the paperwork. I recently watched a news special about the challenges of caring for aging parents. A doctor remarked that managing the life of an aging parent required the equivalent of a Master's degree level of knowledge and skill. My sister in law who manages my mother in law's affairs has an MBA and it's a lot of work for her. It's all very complicated so thank God there's enough talent and brains within our families to manage it. The good news here is that two of my nieces work for the nursing home where my Dad will be moving. Besides the hassle of paperwork and money concerns, this transition will likely create some confusion for Dad. He's been in a comfortable situation on a routine and has been getting good care. Now he will have to go through an adjustment period where he must adjust to a new environment. Challenges like these will be epidemic when my very large generation, the baby boomers, gets to this stage of life. My parents and my wife's mother have a combined total of nine children and many grandchildren who can look after them and work together to manage their lives. Most of my generation have far fewer children and grandchildren to care for them and look after them in their old age so the burden for the younger generation of today will be greater. Note to my children: Get ready.

From time to time, we need to remind ourselves to relax, to be peaceful, we may wish to set aside some time for retreat, a day of mindfulness, when we can walk slowly, drink tea with a friend and enjoy being together as if we were the happiest people on earth. This is not a retreat, it is a treat!
-Thich Nhat Hanh

The above quote is from Thich Nhat Hanh who is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. Even though I am not a Buddhist, I love the Buddhist approach to living. Lived properly it is gentle and serene. It makes me realize how so many of us, including me, get so easily upset about so many things, most of which are trivial occurrences or misunderstandings. There is not a day of my life where I don't encounter drama in one form or another. It would seem that some people take Shakespeare too seriously in his proclamation that "All the world's a stage"! Personally I prefer my drama at Actor's Theater and not in my living room or workplace. This is an unrealistic expectation on my part because where there are people, there is drama. We humans are such emotional beings and these feelings often get the best of us. Of course, it's our feelings and emotions that make us human. We are full of so much capacity for goodness and love. Unfortunately we also have great potential for pettiness and making mountains out of molehills. Although I am a quiet person on the surface, I am also a very emotional person with deep feelings about many things. Sometimes this aspect of my being has been a good thing and other times it has gotten me into trouble. I believe I have a great capacity for love and compassion but my passionate nature sometimes overreacts to events or things people say. Sometimes it is a struggle to find a balance between my often conflicting emotions. There are times I have wished to be like Mr. Spock on Star Trek who had no emotions at all. I always admired his calmness and lack of dramatic and emotional responses to what went on around him. However, I am not a Vulcan. I am a lowly earthling with sometimes difficult to control emotions. Sometime all the world is a stage and I am the star of my own drama. Drama is not always a bad thing but sometimes we need to throw in a little comedy or perhaps some satire. Most of life's so called drama is just the result of imperfect people living in an imperfect world. We should all take Thich Nhat Hanh's advice more often and drink tea or coffee...or even attend a rock concert with friends...and enjoy being being together as if we were the happiest people on earth.

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