Middle-aged? Five Things You Should Do Now to Help Your Kids Later.

friday_fave_five_tamara-smallI fully intended to write this post first thing this morning but one crisis after another cropped up, most centered around the scheduled closing on my childhood home, which we finally have a contract on.   By mid-afternoon I was plopped on the couch, sobbing, fending off kisses from the dog, and scratching an ugly rash which had appeared under my armpit and down my arms, convinced I could now add “shingles” to the list of annoyances.    However, in true “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” fashion (Mom would be SO proud), I’ve rallied and am passing on five valuable lessons my brother and I have learned from the experience of trying to sell our mom’s home while she is in a nursing home.

1.  Resolve right NOW to start chipping away at all you’ve been accumulating. Don’t leave a houseful of “junk” for your children to have to deal with when you are no longer able to handle things on your own.    If you have packrat tendencies, start weeding things when you are still in your right mind.  Think those 10 big boxes of newspaper clippings have value?  Think again.  If you really think your things are noteworthy, take steps now to preserve paper memorabilia in a format that will last or it will end up a mildewed, unsalvageable mess.  Midlife is the ideal time to stand back and really look at what you have and decide what you really “need.”   You can donate, sell, give away, or regift.  It can be incredibly freeing.

2.  Make a list of everything that is in your lock box and then give one copy of that list to each grown child and keep a copy for yourself, in a place that you can find it easily. We just had quite a time trying to locate a certified copy of my dad’s death certificate.  Turns out there was a copy of it in my mom’s safety deposit box at the bank.  Only problem is that her bank is almost two hours from my brother’s home and 2 states away from my home and my mom doesn’t even remember she HAS a safety deposit box.  If we had known what was in that safety deposit box, it would have made life immeasurably easier on us this week.

3.  Keep your grown kids “in the loop” when it comes to your business matters. This is somewhat related to #2.  You don’t have to include them in every decision that you make.  But let them know about the things that will impact them if something should, God forbid, happen to you.  Do you have accounts in more than one bank?  Do you have a prepaid funeral plan?  Who is your lawyer?  Do you have insurance policies? Of course, if your kids are no-account deadbeats, you might want to keep them in the dark.  But, by and large, let your kids know what’s going on because it’s a little hard to play “Twenty Questions” with a parent after they are deceased or suffering with dementia.

4.  Consider taking out some Long-Term Care Insurance. We were extremely blessed to have  very reasonable long-term care insurance offered through the military when my husband retired from active duty.  We could have just said, “Eh, our kids will take care of us” and passed it by.  Or we could have said to ourselves, “Nope, we’ll just let Medicaid take care of us when the time comes.”    I like to think we’ve hopefully saved our kids some extra headaches by taking out this insurance now, while we’re still healthy and able to pay the premiums.

5.   Keep a “youthful, upbeat” attitude. Don’t start trying out coffins at age 50 and then spend the next 50 years dying.  One of the best gifts you can give your kids is to live as healthy and joyous a life as you can possibly manage.  Keep your mind active.  Try new things.  Make friends across the age spectrum.   And maybe, your kids will look at you and say, “Hey, if I can be like Mom when I turn 60…..maybe this getting older isn’t as bad as I thought.”

To see what others are writing about for their Friday Fave Five things….visit Susanne’s blog.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go hunt down some Calamine lotion.  Turns out my “shingles” are a bad case of poison ivy.

  • I could have written this exact post ten years ago (except that my dad did not have dementia). When my grandparents died, my parents began organizing and decluttering their things. They told me that they didn’t want us to have to go through what they did in cleaning out two houses in four months. You are absolutely right on every point. Been there, done that. My brother and I were so blessed to have the best possible solution with our dad keeping us in the loops and with our deciding that no matter what, the two of us wouldn’t fight about anything.

    Rest this weekend if you can. I recommend bathing in the calamine lotion 🙂

  • So sorry you had such a rough morning. Hope it all turns for the better now and you have a peaceful weekend.

    These are all very good thoughts. My MIL is a packrat. Big time. She cannot throw anything away. One time we took her to the museum and all she did as we went through it was say: “I’ve got one of those in my basement, I’ve got those at home”. All I could think was “What for?” and “Oh my goodness, we’re going to have a huge job one day”.

  • As always, great advice here. Thanks!

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