“My husband and I are the primary caretakers of our elderly mothers, both of whom are 94, and have a variety of physical and cognitive health issues you would expect for women of that age. My mother-in-law lived with us for a year until she broke her hip recently and had to move to an assisted living facility. I have medical Power of Attorney for my own mother, and my husband has medical and financial Power of Attorney, as well as conservatorship, of his mother. In addition, we have a child still living at home, and while he is in good health, he, too, has routine, but time-consuming, medical and dental appointments.
I consider myself extremely fortunate: I have a supportive husband who, because he is self-employed, has the freedom to manage his own schedule. Because of this, he is always there in an emergency, to take his mother to the doctor, troubleshoot faulty hearing aids, refill her medicine, etc. He often does the same for my mother, since I work almost an hour away from home. He handles virtually all of our son’s medical appointments. Without him, I would have had to miss so much work that it, or my family, or I myself, would have suffered noticeably. I should point out that while he has the freedom to rearrange his schedule to accommodate our mothers’ needs, it comes at a price; he often works on weekends and into the evening to meet his commitments to his clients.
But I am one of the lucky ones. I cannot help but think of all the women my age who are not so fortunate: the single mothers, the women who work for minimum wage, the women who do not dare take time off from their service jobs for fear of retribution, whether covert or explicit.
If those of us who take hundreds of unremunerated hours off each year to take our mothers with dementia to the doctor, to physical therapy after a fall, not to mention stay at home with our kids when they get the flu – if all of us had the means to pay into a plan that would provide a little financial cushion, all of our families would benefit. And, I would go so far as to say, from my personal experience, that we would make better workers, because, as mothers, daughters, daughters-in-law and wives, would have more peace of mind and heart.”
-Christine, Chester, CT