I’m starting to learn about the issues of eldercare. I’m reluctant to even post this because the elders in question both read this blog.
- My dad is about 63 and is in reasonably good health
- My mom is about 57 and has a chronic condition that requires regular treatment.
- They live in California
- All of my dad’s family lives either in India or in my house
- Most of my mother’s family lives in Minnesota (the ones she cares most about also live in my house)
My dad is concerned about how they’re going to afford healthcare. He feels like he can’t retire until my mom is eligible for Medicare. Even then, he’s not convinced that Medicare will pay for my mother’s needs. If my mother outlives my dad, she’ll have to go to assisted living (or live with us). More to the point — and where I come into the story is where they will live in their retirement years. My dad is a Hindu and is actively involved in the Vedanta Society (think Jesuits for Hindus). He wants to retire to a locale that has an active chapter. My mother wants only to retire to Minnesota where she can live near her grandchildren.
Kansas City and Chicago are the nearest places where Vedanta has an active chapter. Although the Twin Cities has a brand-spanking new Hindu temple, it’s not the same.
Both my parents have dug into entrenched positions and little movement seems possible most of the time. They don’t seem to communicate with each other very well, especially on this issue. As time goes by, my dad seems even more committed to his position. My mom only wants to live near family and has become more committed to her position as well. Grape and I are concerned about this as we try not to overtly choose sides. We want the best for them, but it hurts to see the anguish this is causing for them. We are considering suggesting a neutral third-party whom they both trust who might be willing to help mediate or facilitate a discussion about this issue.
I can understand the pull of faith and the desire to be a part of a faith community. For most of the 40 years my dad has lived in North America, he has gone without a “regular” faith community with a permanent address. For the 16 years we lived in Chicago, he and his friends gathered in each others’ homes to hold religious and cultural celebrations while my dad led the prayers.
Still, I see how much Raisin loves all her grandparents, even though she only sees my parents a couple times per year. But I see her playing with Grape’s parents all the time and I get wistful, wishing my parents could play with their grandchildren without someone having to get on a plane first or sit in a car for more than 30 minutes.
I don’t want to put my dad in the place of choosing between us and his faith community, but if I were in his shoes, I want to think I’d pick family and figure out how to make the faith community thing work instead of the other way around.
I don’t envy the decision. I just know how I want them to decide.