A Tale of Two Couples

Hello everyone:

I used to teach with a couple, Larry and Sue, who had a profoundly mentally handicapped son. They had other grown children, but Joe (let’s call him that) still lived at home. He was in his 40s, able to perform very basic personal hygiene tasks, and perfectly healthy.

As I sat at lunch with this couple and some of our other colleagues, I asked what would happen to Joe if and when something happened to them. Larry told me, “Sue and I have that all worked out. We have been planning for years and have the money laid aside for Joe to be well-cared for. He goes to the home where he will eventually live several times a week now, so that he can get used to it. He does well with planned activities and we know he needs to have routines well-established.” ¬†Sue nodded and told me, “It’s not fair for us to burden our other children with Joe’s care. They have their own lives and families. Joe is our responsibility.”

A few years passed; Larry retired. Six weeks later, he died of a heart attack. Sue was bereft, but she carried on. A few more years passed and Sue retired. She died very suddenly shortly after retirement, as well. They had both been in their mid-sixties and had every appearance of being healthy. Joe’s life has fallen into place just as they planned.

Another couple I know has a mentally disabled son. He is in his teens and is very healthy. He cannot do more than very basic personal tasks and is unable to speak. His parents are in their 50s. They have no arrangements made for his future care, but I really wish they did.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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