Meanwhile reality sets in and the dreamer, neck-deep in a new marriage, job search and non-fiction writing project exploring tempting and taboo sexual habits and spiritual beliefs, has to sideline life to focus on the sad-but-true actuality of dementia symptoms in a middle-class, eighty-something, widow she calls the Gramma lady…
It’s strange being appointed the Power of Attorney for a woman who sometimes resembled a mother, sometimes a persnickety, Pentecostal matriarch, sometimes doting grandmother. I didn’t ask for the position but an unfortunate series of events brought me to the role. My Auntie Kathy, the Gramma lady’s second born, had been the Power of Attorney for years. I, an ignorant grandchild visited blissfully with the Gramma lady as often as I could after the passing of Gramps, the patriarch that we all loved. I wanted to be in her life, like I was in Gramps until the end of her days. I knew much of the fabric of me was woven by her hands, her hymns and her reprimands. She bathed me, fed me, held me when my dad worked too much and my mother partied too much. She sang songs about blood and power to me when it otherwise would have been a dark and lonely childhood. She told me stories of her daddy and a war I only knew from movies and her worn-out, re-told tales. She visited me when my father’s work took me thousands of miles away from the rest of my family. She took me in when my mother kicked me out. She watched my boys while I got high. She was the Gramma lady I took for granted.
And then by a miracle of grace, God, for some reason, reached through my addiction and got my attention. The first place I went after the alter, was to them, Gramps and the Gramma lady. And like always, they were there. He, with air sucked through his teeth and funny little jokes or tricks to make me laugh, and she with hymns and too many words and lessons about life and the past.
I was an adult, they were retirees and great-grandparents to my boys. They (along with another set of dearly loved great-grandparents) fed them when I was getting on my feet but too poor to feed them myself. They gave us furniture and life lessons and way too much food. They proclaimed the gospel truth of Jesus not only in word but in deed. They were good and faithful servants.
Then as this life does, it came to call. In a moment, which actually stretched painfully long, Gramps was taken in a beautiful but melancholy way, home to heaven, and the Gramma lady was left alone again.
See, she’d been alone before… we all know the story; her daddy went to war and she was left alone. I didn’t want her to be so alone so I went to visit as often as I could. I knew how loneliness rots away at the bones and soul and didn’t want that to happen to the lady who woke me up for school and was at the dawn of almost all my early days. So I visited. After our family moved a hundred or so miles away I called regularly and visited once a month. I helped with bills and ‘lifting things’ when I could and left the hard work to my auntie.
Then cancer came calling for auntie Kathy. Who knows why, but it did. She got it and her life was suddenly about surviving. She is still fighting but couldn’t manage the Gramma lady’s affairs and her own struggle to live. The three siblings agreed, or something like that, and they asked me to be Power of Attorney.
Now here I am. 40 years old and in charge of a tiny estate. I have no idea what to do or how this will play out. All I know is I pledged my life to God nearly twenty years ago and He wants me to honor my father and mother. For much of my life, this Gramma lady was the closest thing to mother that I had, though I resented her. Additionally, though he’s largely absent, I have my own father to consider in this matter. Anything left will be partially his to split with his brother and sister… and me, because for some reason they included me in the will.
But will there even be anything left? The answer, according to “experts,” lawyers and people who have been down this road is… NO. Nothing will be left to pass on.
These two saints; imperfect, Pentecostal, preachers of the gospel, that they were, because they were middle-class and uneducated in the high cost of elder care will spend their lifetime of earnings and retirement on assisted living care until my Gramma is dead or has nothing left. Then and only then will she be able to qualify for Medicaid, a nice way to say welfare healthcare for the elderly.
I don’t know anything about this and here I am trying to pay my Gramma’s bills, protect her assets (which isn’t possible) and get her moved into a safe place. What I’ve been told now from more than one lawyer is, if she lives, in the mentally deteriorated state that she’s in for a long time, all of her assets will have to be “spent down” to pay for her medical expenses. It sucks!
I understand paying your way, I do, trust me, I do. I’m Italian, we work. We work long, and we work hard and we earn our keep. I don’t have a problem with that, but it’s sad to me that … if she lives a long time, which I hope she does, they will have nothing of all of their combined years of ministry, work and service to pass on. No, I’m not money grubbing, I actually want to make my own way in this world, but I am sad that life comes down to this for the middle-class in America.
‘“Meaningless! Meaningless!” Says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.’
Like the bible says, it is the circle of life, they’ll die, we’ll carry on, we’ll die, others will carry on… without hope it’s meaningless. But still… for all their hard work, it would be nice to have something, other than a medical or elder care facility bill at the end. I’ve talked to four lawyers, two friends and my most trusted confidant, not to mention countless individuals with ideas and input and there is nothing to do but spend her money until it’s gone, so that she can get on Medicaid (welfare). The alternative is to hope she dies sooner than later, sick, but it’s the alternative…
I can manage her bills and assets as responsibly and mindfully as I can, but there’s not much hope for the Gramma lady to have anything “left” for her heirs.
If there is any silver lining, it is this… not for she who came before me, but for us, the honest, hard-working middle-class, who won’t be rich, but will hopefully have enough of a legacy we’ve worked hard for to pass down to our kids and grand-kids…
What I’ve learned is this:
1) ABOVE ALL… know where you’ll go when you die. Search your soul, your heart, your mind. If you’re confident and at peace, good for you. If not, try Jesus, He’ll give you a peace that passes understanding. If you want to know more, email me, I’m happy to share!
2) BUY LONG-TERM DISABILITY INSURANCE as soon as possible!! If my Grandparents had this earlier, they could have protected their assets from the dreaded Medicaid look-back period because they would have been paying to fund their own elder care! It’s expensive, it’s a bear but trust me… if you want to leave anything to your heirs, it’s imperative!
3) GIVE YOUR ASSETS TO YOUR LOVED ONES WHILE YOU CAN ENJOY THEM ENJOYING THEM! If you have kids or grand-kids doing right by God, you and their fellow man… don’t hold on to your things like a greedy tyrant, give them their stuff while you’re healthy enough to avoid the look back and offer them sage advice. If you’re building an estate to pass on, and you have heirs responsible enough and old enough to pass them to, make it a fair deal, but pass them on now…
This is only from my little tiny bit of experience, and I’m sure there’ll be more as the days pass by, but that’s what I’ve got for now. Take care of you now, for when you’re older, and pass on to them now what you want to when you’re dead…
I am open for anything and everything anyone has to share. Our family is neck deep in this dementia transition and spend down. It’s overwhelming and we’d appreciate all the wisdom and sage advice we can get!
2018 Health & Fitness Improvement Series Check-In with Anytime Fitness participants - Jorge and Danielle!
rge & Daniella – brother & sister team extraordinaire from Anytime Fitness:
Jorge’s 2018 Goals:
Weight loss: to get down to 240 (currently 270)
Nutrition Goals: Eat more of the better kinds of foods
Other Goals: Build endurance
Weight: 260lbs - I lost 11lbs 7lbs fat and 4lbs muscle. I lost too much muscle due to lack of protein.
2) January goals: Did you do things to build your endurance? If so what? I did build my endurance, I did a lot of HIIT exercise (High Intensity Interval Training) and more reps with less weight on lifting.
Did you talk to Chris (Anytime Fitness Trainer) about a nutrition plan? No I didn't talk to him about a specific nutrition plan but he explained to me about eating in the morning before workouts and things I can drink before a workout to help me not lose muscle.
3) February goals - What is your:
Weight loss goal? To lose 10 more lbs
Work out goal? I want to be stronger lift heavier
Nutrition goal? get more protein in my diet
4) Bonus question: What is the best piece of advice you received from a trainer or instructor this month? Best advice was to make sure I'm getting sleep and protein so I gain more muscle.
Daniella’s 2018 Goals:
Weight loss: to get down to 140 (currently 207)
Nutrition goals: To eat better
Other Goals: Not obsess over the scale number – look at the scale less
Weight: 203. End of January Chris checked my fat and muscle. Since last check, I've lost 6 pounds of fat and gained 1 pound of muscle.
2) January goals:
Did you look at the scale? If so how many times? Yes. 4 times.
Did you talk to Chris (Anytime Fitness trainer) about a nutrition plan? No. But i feel comfortable with the research I have studied to keep a good calorie deficit and make healthy choices to meet my goals.
3) February goals - What is your:
Weight loss goal? To lose at least 5 or more pounds
Work out goal? To keep up with my workout plan - 6 days week/2 Hr a day Mon-Sat. Always have a plan before hitting the gym.
Nutrition goal? To stay strictly on my calorie deficit to meet my goals. Keep eating whole nutritious foods. Always plan ahead.
4) Bonus question:
What is the best piece of advice you received from a trainer or instructor this month?
Be on a calorie deficit.
Don't be a slave to the scale.
2018 Health & Fitness Improvement Series Check-In with Actualize Sports & Fitness Participants: Debbie & Riley!
Debbie & Riley – realize their goals with Actualize Sports & Fitness:
Debbie’s 2018 goals:
Weight goals: to get down to 150 (starting weight 209)
Nutrition goals: nothing specific – simply to maintain current nutritional plan to eat with balance & moderation and better choices in mind
Other goals: to get more agile & build muscle and strength
Muscle composition: I gained a pound of muscle and lost over a pound of body fat! yippee!
2) January goals:
Did you meet your weight loss goal? (you wanted to be down 10lbs, but I did write down a start weight): I did not lose 10# but I did lose the 4 # that I gained over Christmas! My body decided that after a year of this it was time for a plateau
Working with my coach to up my protein and get through it.
Did your muscle composition go up? Yes it went up. This is the most muscle I have ever gained in a month. I can see inches coming off!
Does your new dress fit yet? My dress fits perfectly!
3) Goal for a February:
Weight: To get under 200 and gain at least another pound of muscle.
Nutrition goals: eat less dried fruit and nuts and shakes and much more protein through chicken and fish
4) Best advice from my trainer: Keep doing what I am doing and my body WILL reward me.
Riley’s 2018 goals:
Weight goal: to be up to 230 by September and reevaluate from there (Starting weight: 195)
Nutrition goals: To eat 5000 calories a day of healthy food, particularly veggies and lean protein
Other goals: position himself to be selected for collegiate football upon graduation
Hex deadlift 425+ (haven't actually found a max yet, I've lifted this before though)
2) January goals:
Met my January goal of being 225, looking to up my nutrition plan calories to increase weight gain.
Bench max went up 25 pounds so that's a great start.
3) February goals:
Weight goal: to be 230 by the end of February, 5 pounds should be doable.
Bench max: 225 lbs
Front squat: 300 lbs
4) The best advice trainer advice I've received is definitely to not over train. I should do what feels best for my body and make sure that I'm always working my hardest but not pushing my body to its breaking point.
2018 Health & Fitness Improvement Series Check-In with The Gym participants - Morgan & Jamie!
Jamie & Morgan – work wives, gym-mates and The Gym LLC’s cheer squad:
Jamie's 2018 Goals:
Weight goals: to get down to around 150 or to a weight that matches the image of she has in her mind (starting weight: 164)
Nutrition goals: “Make more healthy choices than bad ones”
Other goals: 2 minute plank, get more toned overall
Lean body mass: 110.5 Skeletal muscle mass: 61.3
2) January goals:
Did you meet your weight loss goal for the competition? I didn't exactly meet my goals for weight loss completion. I would have liked to have lost another percentage of fat.
3) Goals for February:
Weight loss, lose 3 lbs
Workout goal: follow the couch to 5k app I download. (Just finished the first week) Use 3 days a week.
Nutritional goal: meal prep and stay within my daily calories. Track my food on myfitness app.
4) Best advice from your trainer: It's so hard to pick just one; so I’ll say “whatever you eat, ask yourself, is this going to help or hinder your weight loss and fitness goals”!
Morgan’s 2018 goals:
Weight goals: Nothing specific but wants to be able to feel comfortable in a pair of shorts this summer
Nutrition goals: Eat better food in smaller portions
Other goals: get muscle mass up and more muscle definition
Lean muscle mass: 116
Skeletal muscle mass 65
2) January goals: Did you meet your weight loss goal for the competition? I personally fell just short of my own goal for the competition... not sure yet if we accomplished our group goal yet..
3) February goals:
Weight loss goal: to be down 4lbs of FAT
Workout goal: to do 25 regular push-ups!
Nutrition goal: is to meal plan!
4) Best advice your trainer gave you: If you want better results, then you have to make better choices.
2018 Health & Fitness Improvement Series Check-In with RRG participant - Jasmine!
Jasmine Hutchinson – the bouldering beauty from Riverfront Rock Gym:
Weight goals: Nothing specific but wants to fit into a super small bikini this summer
Nutrition goals: Drink more water
Other goals: Improve overall hard sport climbing with a focus on: hard bouldering, campus board work, hang board work
Improve flexiblity (yoga once a week or more)
1) Stats: What week are you in in the Let it Burn course? How's it going? The let it burn course has been very challenging and very rewarding. The hardest part has been finding the balance with my schedule and fitting in all the workouts. The rewarding part has been seeing my body change and become stronger. I am currently starting week five.
2) January goals:
Did you achieve your strength and climbing goals? If so, how? I’m not sure how I feel about my goals this last month, I know I can do better but I’m also proud of my success. When looking back at my work out log I have hit the gym three times a week but the substance of my workouts could be much better I’m not sure I fit in everything that’s expected in the trainer and I hope to improve that this month.
Did you participate in yoga 1x/wk? I have not done weekly yoga but I have fit in skiing and other complementary workouts.
Did you drink more water? I have definitely been drinking more water, but again I know I can do better.
3) February goals - What is your:
Work out goal? My February goal is going to be centered around organization I need to be meticulous if I’m going to fit in as much as I would like time management is going to be huge if I want to succeed in this program.
Nutrition goal? As for nutrition I need to keep drinking water. I have a new recovery blend that has been very helpful. otherwise I’m feeling pretty good about my intake.
4) Bonus question: What is the best piece of advice you received from a trainer or instructor this month? The best piece of advice that I have been given is to have a beginners mentality. Though I have been climbing for a long time I have not been training for a long time so all the advice I can get is helpful. I am constantly trying to learn and be accepting of constructive criticism and advice.
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