How do I avoid the effects of their non-planning?

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Both my grandmother and mother are depending on temporary home health aides these days. Whenever I call to say 'hi', I sometimes have been asking especially my grandmother, who was recently advised by her doctors to have heart surgery, what she wants to do. I'd say of course it's her decision and if she is going through with it, is she planning ahead for a big decision like that; such as long-term care. Even though it's by phone, I could practically feel her shrugging her shoulders and her usual hemming and hawing about it. It drives me crazy, but I said gently as possible that I understood it was scary because it was such a big decision to make. And it is. But what drives me crazy is she and my mother keep saying there is nothing to plan, when it comes to any surgeries and follow up care. And while my mother is gung ho for some upcoming surgeries for her neck and back (recently the hip was done), it looks as if my grandmother is feeling the opposite and is not going to let them operate on her heart. I honestly respect both of their decisions, but the non-planning of anything makes me feel as if it's only a matter of time I would be forced to put out another 'fire' of theirs; I have had to deal with both of theirs. I know I should not get too involved in any of their issues, but I must ask what I can do for anymore of them sure to come up in the future? Because I can't take much more of this 'going along with the times' attitude (as my grandmother is always saying) and I don't have POA over either one (nor do I want to have it). However, I can see they set it up so I wouldn't, because they can pretty much guess that my way would eventually be a nursing home for them. Well, if one doesn't plan the major things in their life to avoid what they wouldn't want to do, is it fair to ask me to give up my life? So my question is, because I don't have POA, what options would they have if another emergency arrives where they can no longer even think about taking care of themselves? (Both currently live alone). Also, what if they don't have the financial ability to have long-term care? Would Medicare cover all of that daily care? They might not care about being blindsided, but I learned my lesson to plan ahead in order to avoid any calamities for myself.

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Dee Dee, you have to not care what others think. I could have given a rat's azz about whether my family or mom's friends thought I should stop living my life ( job, husband, mortgage) to move in and care for my mom. Not my job.

If your elders are medically at need of Nursing home care, they spend their assets down to qualify for Medicaid.

If they need short term help at home, the doctor scripts home health, short term. If they need more, they use their income and assets to pay for care.

If they have too much monthly income, they set up a Miller trust.

Are you in NYC?
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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You have to train yourself to NOT come to the rescue. Your mom can 'hint' all she wants, don't offer a solution to her problems, let her figure it out for herself.

If something goes wrong, let the professionals step in. Sure they will try and get you involved but just be unavailable. No one can make you take over.

Let the other take the lead. My father is in rehab. Last year her was in the hospital then rehab. I brought him clothing while at the hospital for his rehab stay. They lost his clothing and suitcase. Last week he was in the hospital again and going to rehab. I waited until he got to rehab to bring him clothing. And when they took it to wash, they lost all his clothing again. Social worker called and asked when I would be up so I could bring more clothes. I said I wouldn't . She tried to blame me for not labeling the clothes. Would never have thought to do that. They do that for him at AL. She waited for me to come up with a solution to the problem and I just sat in silence on the phone. I think she was hoping I would talk and come up with a solution that involved me doing everything just to avoid the awkward silence. I learned a lot of these forums and knew not to be the solution.

You don't have to be the solution either.
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Reply to lkdrymom
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It does seem that your mom and grandma have come to expect that you will drop everything and rescue them - that way they don't have to make any real changes in the way they live. You have tried to reason with them, give them good advice about assisted living, etc., however they will not budge as long as they think they have you to fall back on. So I think you are going to have to push back - grandma's toilet is clogged - your answer, "Sorry not my problem - if you lived in AL you could have handy help. But since you don't want to, you'll just have to call in the plumber, like any independent householder would do. But since you don't want to, you are going to have to deal with these kinds of issues." They want to be "independent" but not really. Since they are both mentally competent and not helpless, I think you are justified in issuing some "tough love." And I suspect you will have to in order to get them thinking ahead. Meanwhile, Mac's advice is good - learn what you are able about the options that they would have. That IS helping them in a practical way. Not enabling.
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Reply to rovana
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Ceecee,
I told my son;
"Your problem can't be more important to ME than it is to you."

Step back and let them fall on their faces, if that's what it takes. Stepping back doesn't mean you don't care but they have to be "allowed" to reap the reprocussions of their actions. You can't be their savior.

YOU can not instill responsibility in someone else. They are adults with their minds intact.
However, they have either conditioned you to respond to what they need or you have taken on the task on your own.

It is NOT your responsibility to micromanage their lives.

You may need help from a therapist to separate your life from being entangled with theirs.
Guilt is a mighty emotion that keeps us tied to a situation that we shouldn't be in.

With help, you'll learn to say "No, I can't." And then you'll learn to let it go.
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Reply to SueC1957
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If they are cognitively aware, they each have a right to make their own decisions on their health. You really will not have influence on their decision for surgery.  Think about how you would feel if something went wrong that you pushed them to do.
 Just as you are able to make your own decisions on how much support you will give them. Keep reading posts to formulate your own plans ahead of a crisis. You may realize that many advise not to allow a parent to come home to you and you giving up your job. As for financial info on Medicare and Medicaid, you currently have time to read up. First step is look up the author Gabriel Heiser.
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Reply to MACinCT
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It's very hard with folks who have "expectations" of you without asking.

I think that you're doing the right think by asking them to plan for their needs and not simply ask for a blank check on your time.

"Mom, I need you to plan for these appointments; my life is not structured in a way that I can drop everything and run to you when something that could have been planned for happens. It doesn't mean I don't love you; it means that I have lots of good stuff going on in my life--school and work--that involve planning. Let's sit together with my schedule and we'll call your doctor together so that we can get you an appointment that I can take you to".

Some people, CeeCee, resist planning because it feels like "tempting fate". I remember a friend of mine who was in the hospital having a mastectomy overhearing her roomate's family. They were castigating her for having had a mamogram. They pointed out to her that if she hadn't had the mamogram, she wouldn't be having a mastectomy, why did she go and bother trouble like that?

Really? I'm not sure if there is a way to characterize folks like that kindly, other than to say that they are ostrich-like, and generally find ways to blame others, or forces beyond their control for their troubles.

But they are the bane of the existence of folks like us who plan ahead. At least for me, when things DON'T work out and I've planned, I can take some comfort in my efforts, even if the end result isn't perfect.

But leaving everything to fate, or to the kindness of strangers, or others is just NOT my cup of tea.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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You said, "I honestly respect both of their decisions, but the non-planning of anything makes me feel as if it's only a matter of time I would be forced to put out another 'fire' of theirs; I have had to deal with both of theirs. " But you wouldn't be "forced" to do anything for them. Don't call them as often if they constantly "hint" at things for you to do. Don't offer suggestions. Or say, "Gee, that's awful, I hope you can figure it out without too much trouble." Build some boundaries.

You get involved because you want to get involved. You've been raised to think that's your obligation and job. I get it. But you either need counseling to help you understand it's not your job in life to protect/save your mother and grandmother. Or you just need to start practicing what we fellow caregivers are suggesting you do. You have a right to your own health and happiness. One of the best lines I learned in work I did on myself through a program was, "I take care of my own health and happiness. And my mother (or grandmother) takes care of HER own health and happiness." Really understanding that you're not responsible for the health and happiness of others is a huge burden lifted. Keep working towards that goal. Start building those boundaries and hold to them! Let mom and grandmother fix their own problems.
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Reply to blannie
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Hi,

I appreciate your replies. I feel like I'm going around in circles with this, so I just want to get off this merry-go-round these days. But I feel like I'm trapped by way of these emergencies and ending up forcing to answer them. I came to the realization that their not planning ahead is another way of them being fine with me having to deal with it. I constantly feel angry that they used my loyalty over the years, i.e. I was the one there for holidays and hospitals, not really the others. They are banking on this now, even though I'm presently in school along with working. They claim they will enlist professional help, but every time I speak with them, they are sounding like I've 'neglected' them. And you know how you know your relative operates; something you can't always explain in some written words. Anyway cdnreader, I've already been there and done that in trying to get things out in the open with them. For years. I'm exhausted and looking for another way...out.

I took a break to read other posts and believe I found what I'm looking for...Brooklyn Barb's reply to Caretaker777 (praying you're okay today Caretaker!) about a safety net for the elderly; I'm sure that this is the state's Department of Aging she refers to. I have looked at that before and will again. My fear about that is that I believe my grandmother and mom are one of those people who fall 'in between'; while they are by no means rich, they also are considered to have "too much" monthly income to receive a full safety net. That's why I am still wondering what will happen going forward? I hate to feel like I'm in the dark about something so major.

Oh yes MACinCT, thanks for your info. too.

However, you said, "You really will not have influence on their decision for surgery. Think about how you would feel if something went wrong that you pushed them to do."

Even though I stated, "I honestly respect both of their decisions..." Once again, it's about making sure I myself am prepared due to their lack of planning ahead for something so life-changing. Though I understand it's hard getting older, I don't want it to negatively affect my own future.

I agree to "Keep reading posts to formulate your own plans ahead of a crisis" and "talking to a social worker, elder law attorney or family therapist". 

Though work and school take up ALL of my time, I am trying to fit it in to do those things.

Any other creative suggestions are always welcome. Thanks so much.  
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Reply to Ceeceeisme
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Good Afternoon Brooklyn Mom,

Not my cup of tea either.

Your words are taken to heart, because I'm saying to myself, 'Finally, somebody gets it; they understand.' These days, I'm surrounded by family members who mostly don't care to plan ahead. I always looked at it as laziness; and you're right that it's also "ostriching" because one is also scared to "tempt fate". That is crazy what your friend's roommate had to go through with her family when that is what saved her life!

Later for that, I feel like you; it's better to plan than not at all. It's one of the laws of nature to plan certain things; do any less and more than likely you will fail. I believe that secretly, they are wanting to use me for those planning skills I looked to develop over the years. Yet, what they don't realize is it doesn't really work that way. One, this stuff is over my head. I can't try to keep all my ducks in a row and theirs too, especially how they either have hemmed and hawed, argued or nixed just about everything I talk to them about.

Right now, it's about my grandmother's driving. After a diagnosis about the heart, I would think it's time. I do believe she is taking Access-A-Ride more and at least she hasn't driven on the highway in years. But I do know anything can happen on the regular street; at this point, it's up to her to face this. Hopefully, I put a good bug in my mother's ear when she supposedly goes to see her.

Thank you very, very much for your wise response. I really appreciate your insights.
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Reply to Ceeceeisme
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No, a suffering turtle is not funny.

But there are animal welfare organisations. And to be honest - I REALLY don't think it's funny - if an elder were neglecting a creature as helpless and dependent as that (a turtle can't even raid the bins or eat its fallen owner) I'd be tempted to inform on her to them.

I don't know how but you need to go cold and angry on her rather than continuing to turn up because she thinks it's a bit of a joke and - oh ha ha ha - here you come riding over the horizon again to rescue her. Some kind of hiss of "take this seriously because I promise you I'm not taking it at all, not any more."
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Reply to Countrymouse
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