The end of 2005. Dec 30th to be exact, and the children and I have an appointment with an elder law attorney. Now, I had never even heard of an attorney who specialized in laws dealing with just the elderly people but, I've had to learn a lot in a hurry. The Alzheimers Support Group told us we caregiver needed to be thinking about how to handle the 'other end' of taking care of our lives. In other words, be sure you are financially secure. We had found a young attorney, Tim, who had met with us earlier and now we are taking Elbert to get some signatures and Tim will explain to him what is going on.
Elbert is an agreeable person. He doesn't want to cause trouble. So much like he has always been but we are talking here about taking his money, his freedom, his independence, everything away. I don't know how he will react so I am nervous all the way over to the office. The children and I talk and we managed to let Elbert know where we are going but keep as many details as we can to ourselves. It's just easier that way. I told him that we were just going to update some of our paperwork, you know, wills and that sort of thing. He seemed to understand that.
Once in the office Tim took command and he was so good. Easy, no stress, explaining things without upsetting. Tim took one piece of paper work (Power of Attorney, Wills, Deeds etc) at a time and Elbert signed them as did I. Then Tim told Elbert that we needed to put just my name on the house deed. Elbert seemed a bit agitated and confused. So, Tim just changed the subject and started talking about foxhunting, a hobby that had been so important to Elbert all his life. Once Elberts mind was on the dogs and the chase Tim brought up the deed again. It was kind of sad/cute. Elbert kept saying 'But what if she throws me out'. over and over. He seemed real concerned that he might not have a place to go. Shirley stepped right in reminding him that he had always wanted me taken good care of and if he want me to continue to be taken good care of he needed to sign the papers. And, he did. Just like that.
We have a little money, not a lot, and I know that the expenses of caring for someone with Alzheimers is huge. Depending, of course, on how severe it gets and how long it lasts. I know I have a lot of financial responsibilities ahead of me. I'll have to be smart about it and make sure what we have will see us through to the end.
I should have had some strong feelings one way or the other about all of a sudden having all that with just my name on it. I am married, have always been part of a couple, with one income and a husband who took care of most of the 'heavy' stuff like taxes, deeds, stuff like that. If it does anything at all it makes me realize that I am pretty much alone now, that the man I married has slipped away and I am to do it all by myself. That's pretty much of a huge burden and I feel the weight of it on my shoulders.
On New Years Eve I lay in bed knowing that it is stupid to wait until the midnight hour to see the new year in. I need my sleep. So, I think about New Years Resolutions. None. Just have an urge to start 2006 with a clean slate and everything running as soothe as possible. I pull the covers up, turn out the light and fall asleep.