A friend who had made a similar move a year or so earlier, kindly suggested that I use an aged-care specialist advisor. That was an excellent move – I soon discovered the advantage of an expert to guide me through the financial aspects of this transition of my wife into full-time care. I am so glad I took that advice! It’s advice I would also give, now!
The specialist advisor was able to steer me, and my family, through the process of analysing and summarising our financial assets and make a forward estimate. Only then could our advisor confidently and finally negotiate an entry price at the selected home and then follow through to help with the complexities of Centrelink reporting and to lodge the required papers. All of that would have stretched me past endurance, I think!
Having decided upon the Care home, the advisor prepared and submitted all the paperwork that flows from that, and with Centrelink.Additionally, I was now armed with the comforting knowledge of how the finances would play out over the ensuing years.
The big change starts….
It was late December, about two weeks before Christmas 2018, and after many discussions with my family, I made the first move for my wife to live separately, away from me. Packing a very small suitcase with a couple of clothes changes for her was easy, but enough to make me teary, just deciding which few of her appropriate clothing items should go with her that day…….It was hard not to be emotional, and she, too, could sense the tension and was also apprehensive, not really knowing what was happening.
We drove to her new home and hung her clothes in her room wardrobe. I stayed on and we had lunch together at the facility. In the new small “dining room” which she would ultimately share with about a dozen others, men and women.
The staff at the aged-care home were very caring and welcoming, without being effusive. But, when it was time for me to leave, to separate on that first day, my wife naturally wanted to come ‘home’ with me. With knowledgeable diversionary tactics, the staff facilitated that first ‘break’ for me.
I visited each day for two days, but we both slept alone for two nights.That was a rare event for us; apart from a few instances we had been together every night for over sixty years and the permanency of that separation really hit me like a brick.
But I was buoyed by the fact that after those first two days I would be taking my wife out of there and driving us to a Caravan Park at Mount Beauty for a final, full family, reunion. Our family, and some in-laws, made a really special effort to travel there and we stayed in cabins, tents and motor homes for the week leading up to Boxing Day. What a joy that was!
At that stage, my wife was often a bit overwhelmed and often cried (me too!), as her mind tried to grapple with what was happening, and who everybody was! It was a very special time for all of us including our grandchildren, some of them with their partners. It was made even more special when two of our granddaughters announced their engagements – the first grandchildren to do so! One of our grandsons was in the UK, and a granddaughter was on duty as a nurse in Brisbane, otherwise it was a full muster!
In every sense it was a memorable occasion, except that tragically my wife. alone, would not remember it! The poignancy of that was ever-present as we all gathered and enjoyed the unique experience of fine weather, family and friends, all living together in harmony.
It felt to me at that time to be like the culmination of my married life.Here I was, an only child who had vowed to never have just one child, married to my first real sweetheart, blessed with five beautiful healthy children, and about to permanently separate! All our children are still married to their original partners and between them we have eleven brilliant and successful grandchildren. And all of them with partners and friends, completely understood what was happening – they were supporting me with big hearts, just as we had supported them in their earlier life stories!
I believe my wife and I could feel the energy of all those comparatively young lives around us that week. We truly have so much to thank God for!