Sunday, September 23, 2007

A big part of why I worry about finances

In some ways, my grandparents are an example of how to be sensible but still end up with financial problems. My grandfather is 88, and my grandmother is 82. They are part of the the last generation that will be taken care of by their former employers in retirement. My grandfather was in the Army Air Corps, became an officer in the Air Force, and spent 21 years in the military. After that he worked as a budget analyst in the aerospace industry and then became a realtor. My grandmother raised five children and then became a nurse. When they retired, they had a substantial nest egg, my grandfather's pensions, and Social Security. They bought a modest two bedroom house in an inexpensive area of the country.

In the early 1990's my grandfather had his first stroke. He made good progress, but a couple of years later he had another stroke. He developed a bad case of pneumonia in 1999, and he made it through but has been much frailer and on oxygen ever since.My grandmother was able to care for him with help from my mother, and later, a few hours a week of paid help. The stress on her was intense, but she managed. Then, last summer my grandfather needed surgery. Afterward, he became so weak he became immobile, and physical therapy was of limited use. My grandmother attempted to bring him home, but after less than a day it became apparent that he needed twenty-four-hour nursing care. It was tough on her (and on the rest of us), but there was simply no alternative.

These days, we're fretting about when my grandfather's Medicaid application will be approved. My grandparents have spent the vast majority of their savings, and their monthly income doesn't cover his care, let alone also provide for my grandmother. A year of paying for a nursing home has wiped them out.

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