There are several sets of ideal readers for Suddenly Single. They include widows and widowers, new fathers whose wives die during childbirth, divorcees, long-term caregivers, the terminally ill, and relatives of widows and widowers. With the exception of new fathers, the bulk of these readers are Baby Boomers in their 60s and 70s.
Many of them are retired, having planned on spending the rest of their lives with their spouses. They are unexpectedly alone and may be feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work that they will now be required to do. If they are a long-term caregiver, statistics show that they did not chose to take over this role, but felt obligated to do so.
Widows and widowers may have had a brief period of time during their spouse’s illness where they became aware that they might end up alone, but the illness may have been brief and left them little or no time to prepare. If they planned their finances carefully, they may be financially secure, or they may be like a divorcee who suddenly realizes that her husband wants to jettison her for a younger model.
The new father who suddenly loses his wife will most likely not be prepared for this situation at all, thinking that he would have many years with his young wife before they had to consider death and dying.
Likewise, divorcees may find themselves suddenly ousted from their seemingly-secure marriages, finding themselves in need of information on how to maintain their homes.
The serious illness of a parent or loved one can add stress as individuals try to juggle the demands of managing more than one household and family. Terminally ill individuals may wish to plan ahead by practically preparing their families for their eventual demise. The relatives of widows and widowers may wish to provide their loved ones with the guidelines for effective household management.
According to the American Community Survey Report, their statistics state that “the majority of widowed males and females were 65 years and over (70 percent and 66 percent, respectively)” (7). Widow’s Hope states that “800,000 people are widowed each year in the United States. Nearly 700,000 women lose their husbands every year and will be widows for an average of 14 years” (para. 1). Widow’s Hope further states that “there are 13.6 million widows in the United States” (para. 2); over half of the women in America who are over 65 years old are widowed (Widow’s Hope, para. 19).
The problem will only increase over time, since the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there will be 88.5 million people over the age of 65 in 2050 (Profile America Facts for Features, para. 3).
Now you know!
Do you have long-term care insurance? It is extremely expensive to get long-term care; yet you really can’t afford to be without it. Long-term care insurance (LTC), an insurance policy, helps provide for the cost of long-term care beyond a predetermined period. LTC covers care not generally covered by health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.
To get into one quality long-term skilled care facility in my area, you are expected to give a one-time “facility gift” of $50,000. The care then runs between $10,000 and $11,000 per month, depending on the level of need. That is a substantial chunk of change, so I hope you can see the need here. Where would you get the money to pay this kind of bill?
The pool of insurance for long-term care usually plans on the costs running about $125,000 per year. However, keep in mind that a joint plan provides this for you and your spouse; if one of you has used it up, there is nothing left for the other spouse to draw on. Folks usually last about four years in one of these facilities. If they stay home and get care, the lifespan is usually 15 years.
Do you qualify for long-term care? If you have pre-existing medical problems, the answer may be “nope.” You have to plan on using long-term care insurance or you could end up in a Medicaid facility. The interesting thing about these places is that, if the treatment you need is not available locally, they can ship you off to the nearest place where it is available.
I heard a horror story lately where an elderly woman who was not insured needed specialized care. One day when her daughters came to visit her, the daughters found out that their mother had been shipped some other place three weeks before their visit that day (they really needed to visit their mother more often!). It took a while before they could even learn where their mother was, since folks had forgotten by then and they had to look it up. As it happened, the mother was shipped from Maryland to Pennsylvania. The daughters, who apparently had not seen fit to visit their mom very often when she was local, now had to drive a distance to check on their mom.
I hope you find this information helpful. It is not meant to provide legal information, but simply to provide a guide towards preparing you for long term need ahead of time.
I met up with a former high school teacher a few years ago, running into him at the mall. After asking what he was doing now, he told me that he was back at the same high school after a five-year break.
He immediately (and voluntarily) launched into an explanation, telling me that he had met a wealthy, older widow a few years before and that she had taken him into her home (and her pocketbook).
Over a period of a couple of months, she began giving him lavish gifts; her financial advisor cautioned her repeatedly that she was running through her estate very quickly, but she told him to mind his own business. One day, she asked her counselor if she should marry her much-younger boyfriend and she was told, “You might as well. You’re spending all of your money on him.”
They got married a short time later and their spending increased. He told me that they thought nothing of taking friends to Paris for the weekend or going to New York City for lunch.
He said that they had spent money like drunken sailors on shore leave, until one day when they found out they were broke. They were forced to sell her gorgeous house and their numerous expensive cars.
When I ran into him, they were living in a very modest home with economical cars. He said, “I spent all of her money and now we are back to where I was before I met her.”
To his credit, he did not divorce her and move on, he was actually taking care of her, albeit at a considerably lesser lifestyle than they had become accustomed to. His hard-earned advice: Be careful with your money and spend carefully!
Have you ever noticed that sometimes you flush the toilet and the toilet just keeps running and running and running? It’s not supposed to do that.
If you do what I usually do, you juggle the handle to get it to stop. This is a temporary fix. You need a long-term solution or the water will keep running with future flushes.
What should you do? The first thing to do is to take the lid of the water closet off (this is your water tank). There is a chain on the contraption in the tank. Is it slack? If so, you need to unhook the chain and then re-hook it so that the chain is not pulled so tightly. If the toilet still continues to run, that is not the problem.
You should then look at the round piece of rubber that covers the drain in the bottom of the tank. Push on it a few times, to see if it is sealing well. It may be shot and may need to be replaced.
You will probably want to empty out the tank before you remove the round rubber cover, so turn off the water next to your wall and flush the toilet. This will make the toilet empty and it won’t be able to re-fill itself.
The rubber piece comes off pretty easily, so take it off and then take it to the hardware store to get a replacement. Bringing the piece with you will ensure that you get a new one that will fit your toilet. When you get back home, replace the rubber piece by reattaching it to the toilet. Turn the water back on at the wall and the toilet will refill. Flush it again, to make sure that it will stop.
If neither of these issues is the problem, you may need to replace the entire flushing mechanism; you can either pay a plumber about $100 minimum to make a house call or you can take a picture of your toilet, bring it to the hardware store to get a new mechanism, and then (following the directions on the package) replace the mechanism yourself. This will take a couple of hours and will require a wrench, a screwdriver, and a bucket.
I hope that this helps solve your running toilet problem!
One of the hardest things on earth is watching a parent decline in health and/or mental capacity.
You know how it is: little things, such as going to the grocery or serving oneself at a family buffet become impossible. There isn’t enough strength for the former or enough agility for the latter.
A once-buff person becomes pathetically thin and bony. An active mind becomes clouded with fears and an inability to communicate. Hearing loss is common, as is the inability to form sentences.
Life can become centered around the need to use the bathroom. The shower can become a marathon-level challenge for someone who does not see the need to use soap or shampoo.
It can become necessary to supervise the individual constantly, telling and re-telling the same information to the elderly person. The ability to remember information quickly becomes a thing of the past. A once-mentally agile person becomes someone in need of constant reassurance.
It is quite sad. What can you do? Love the person, both as he or she is and as he or she was. Remember the happy times, and trust that you will make it through this day, this hour, this minute. Try to arrange for play dates for YOURSELF! You need a break and need to not feel guilty about it.
This is a part of the cycle of life. How do you cope with this?
We all know someone who seems to accomplish a whole lot in her 24 hours. Maybe she is your college professor who teaches 6 different classes at three different colleges, all of which have different starting dates. Perhaps she also writes two blogs twice a week while writing a novel and making presentations on the topic of her dissertation. Perchance she is also keeping her family fed, clothed, and the house clean while also running 8 miles a day, biking 3 miles a day, and walking 4 miles a day.
What in the world? Is this woman nuts? Does she ever sleep? Is she Superwoman? Nope. None of the above (I hope). She is simply organized.
So how is this done while not losing one’s sanity? For starters, she keeps a “to-do” list and crosses things off as they are accomplished. She makes a daily list of what must be done and also has a list on the same page of what it would be nice to do that day. If something is vitally important, it needs to be done FIRST so that the rest of the day will not be spent fretting about having not gotten it completed.
Let’s follow her through a typical day. She keeps her exercise clothes in the bathroom and puts them on before she is totally awake. By the time the fog clears, she is already dressed to exercise, so she might as well do it. Three miles on the bike, eight miles on the treadmill and that is done. BTW, if she was taking a class right then, she would have a study guide for one of her classes blown up into 16 point font and displayed on her bulletin board in front of the treadmill so she could study while running. If she was not taking a class, she would pray for her students and the folks on her church prayer list (again, posted on her bulletin board, filling otherwise non-productive time). Ninety minutes later, she is done and it is only 7 am.
Next, she gets ready for her day, studying while blow drying her hair or reading a current magazine in the 7 minutes it takes to get her hair dry. That way, she is keeping up with the world in general while using otherwise non-productive time. She does her makeup without distraction because telemarketers haven’t figured out that she is up and at ’em by 7 am. She dresses in an outfit suitable for the entire day (when possible) so that she only has to dress once.
Breakfast means Bible study time and/or catch up with the family. She is out the door by 8:30, to walk 4 miles, grocery shop, or run errands. Home by lunchtime means no fast food (that adds pounds very quickly) and on to her online classes.
She can check in on 6 classes within a couple of hours, if there are not many assignments due. She grades on a daily basis, so that there are very few marathon grading sessions and so that her students can get immediate feedback on every assignment. They appreciate knowing how to improve their grades for the next assignment by following her in-depth feedback on this one. She keeps a month-at-a-glance calendar next to her computer so that she can track which week each of the three colleges is in, which students will have assignments due that week, and when her discussion boards open to students.
During the online class time, she makes a point of getting up and moving every 45 minutes by setting an oven timer. She also has a Varidesk, which allows her to fluff her pillow as need be. Classes are usually completely done by 2:30 or 3, so she can take a few minutes to fold the two loads of laundry she did while teaching (the 45 minutes between breaks is enough time to transfer washing into the dryer and then take it out when it is dry).
She can spend the rest of the time until dinner preparation time to blog or write her novel. To remain faithful to writing, she sets her oven timer for 45 minute increments. After visiting with the family during dinner, she can spend more time writing until Jeopardy is on. Following the game show, there is time to watch a little bit of Doc Martin before an early bedtime.
Do you think she is nuts or just well-organized? I hope you think the later, instead of the former!
P.S. Welcome to my life!
I got a church newsletter from my great aunt’s church of many years and I was struck by how a few people can make a huge difference in the lives of others.
The last time I visited her church, the normal attendance on a Sunday morning was 271 people over two services. Not a huge group, but faithful folks who regularly met together.
These folks have a ministry to their community all year round but they go out of their way to minister to others at Christmastime. They take homemade cookies to people who have to work on Christmas day, such as firemen and women, hospital workers, and police.
Their newsletter that arrived at my home today has numerous thank you notes from folks who they have helped in the last month: for some, the church paid their gas or electric bill; to others, food was brought in during a time of someone’s difficulty; for those unable to get out and about, small Christmas trees (apparently full-decorated) were given to cheer the stay-at-home invalids.
What a wonderful way to go out of their way to help those unable to help themselves! What experiences have you had with being blessed by the actions of a few?
The holidays can be very difficult as we navigate seldom-seen relatives amidst a flurry of activity. We can find tempers frayed as we become sleep-deprived as a result of increasing responsibilities. Too much to do in too little time can add to our holiday stress, and a limited income in addition to holiday bills can add to those challenges.
Put in a liberal dose of illness or infirmity, too much togetherness in too tight a space, and you have a disaster waiting to happen.
So what can we do? Ask for help. Don’t take all of the jobs on yourself. Pray. Take time to read your Bible. Try to stay on as normal a schedule as possible. Respect others’ need for privacy and ask that they acknowledge your need. Reach out the to person who seems determined to give you the hardest time, if you can. Take a walk when things seem overwhelming.
Depend on God to help you make it through. And, yes, it can be helpful to have a personal countdown of how many days you have left in this season. Give yourself something to look forward to, such as lunch out with a friend, and do not let anyone talk you out of this personal time that you need.
I pray that you will make it through successfully, and that you will have a blessed holiday!
P.S. Now excuse me while I go make the family dinner, set up for it, and do the laundry while everyone else is at the beach. Oh, well….. I love my family and this is the way that I serve God.
When Do You Need to Buy More?
When the bottle of ketchup or the container of strawberries gets low, you probably know it. Would you rather run completely out of something, need it desperately, and then have to make an emergency run to the store to buy it? Nope, I didn’t think so.
When you see that the bottle that you have is less than half full, start looking for specials for that product. If something is on sale, don’t buy ten bottles if you live alone, but do stock up.
[Note: Things rot and products have expiration dates. Be sure to check the dates on the side of the container. If you think you won’t use it up by then, only buy one, not fifteen. Even if it is a really good deal, if you aren’t going to use it before it expires, then it really is not wise to buy too many of whatever it is.]
What is your favorite story of when you bought too many and the expiration date arrived too soon?
When you are taking care of an elderly person, it is vital to know the limits to their energy. I have a dear friend who has cared for her mother for several years and she is wise enough to know how her mother’s abilities have faded. She has learned to make adjustments for them. Her mother’s world is getting smaller and smaller as time goes on.
I have had to learn the same lesson, as I visit with my father on a monthly basis. We no longer make 5 or 4 or 3 or 2 or even one walking lap of the mall anymore. Walking across the parking lot to get to the mall in the first place has not been a reality for several years (even if it hadn’t been 106 degrees, effectively, yesterday!). His walker has sometimes turned into a wheelchair when we have underestimated his stamina (turn the walker around, have the person sit down, tell him or her to lift his or her feet, and push the walker from behind. Your back will get sore but you will make it back to the car).
How do you know when the limit has been reached? Careful observation is key. Does your loved one seem to struggle at even the most simple of tasks? Maybe you need to get help for that person. Does the individual tire more easily than he or she did in the past? Pay attention to the nonverbal signs.
How have you handled the changes in your loved one’s life? I would love to hear your ideas for how you have adjusted to this new time of life.