My father’s 83 years old, and he’s been in a care facility with Alzheimer’s since early 2011. (At the time my daughter was a college freshman.) He’s near my brother (who’s been designated as Dad’s guardian) and I’m Dad’s conservator. I’m 56 years old and I’ve been retired for 15 years.
I spend an hour or two a week taking care of his finances, unless an issue comes up. (Then it’s anybody’s guess on what I’ll have to do, including getting on a plane to visit him.) Every month or so I’m on the phone to politely argue with someone in the facility or in a Medicare billing business. This time of year is busy with the annual conservator’s report and Dad’s tax returns.
Having to clean out Dad’s apartment darn near turned me into a minimalist. Having to do the forensic financial file research & reconstruction has motivated me to clean up our own finances and their files. It’s also inspired my spouse and I to do a lot of estate planning and for me to finally get serious about my health & longevity. These days our 24-year-old daughter looks on nervously and nods her head when we talk about inheritances and revocable living trusts. She and her spouse are thinking about starting their family in a few more years.
Ironically in 1988, my Dad’s father pretty much did the same thing to him: entered a care facility after quietly losing the ability to live independently. In that case it took my Dad several months to clean out the apartment (including four years of unopened mail) and several years to straighten out the finances and the delinquent tax returns. Grandpa lived in a care facility with “senile dementia” (probably Alzheimer’s) for 14 years and died just short of age 98 in 2002. And then less than a decade later my father and I repeated our roles in this sad play.
The best Alzheimer’s website on caregiving is Bob DeMarco’s “Alzheimer’s Reading Room”. The two best books I’ve read on the subject-- by far-- are “The 36-Hour Day” and “When The Time Comes”. Both authors have way more experience than they cared to acquire.