Senior Matters: Getting the answers to life’s questions

Fred Goldenberg

As we wheeled my Mom’s hospital bed from the medical wing to the hospice wing, I walked along beside her holding her hand. When we arrived at the room, she looked at me and said, “So, this is the room I’m going to die in.”

Not a question but a statement.

I wish I could have said something else, but my response was “Yes, this is where you will die.”

All of my mother’s doctors had concluded that there was nothing else they could do to prolong the inevitable. She had fought a long, hard battle against diabetes and heart disease. Although her mind was fighting hard, her body was unable to sustain the battle.

She lay in that bed fighting with every fiber of her being. But 10 days after entering that room, her body finally overcame her mind and she quietly passed away.

Many of you reading this might be thinking, “Why would he write about something so depressing? Especially on Mother’s Day?” The answer is that it’s not depressing. It’s reality. It’s life.

And, more important, is the fact that my mother was ready for her death. As I said above, her comment was a statement — not a question. We had talked about what to expect and what needed to be done. We had everything in place.

Conversations about death are hard — but essential to smoothing out those transitions from life to end-of-life decisions.

I realize Mother’s Day might not be the most appropriate time to broach the subject. Handing your mom a bouquet of flowers and then asking if they’re the kind of flowers she’d like at her funeral might not go over too well. But having those conversations is a must — if not today, then soon.

When I meet with people about estate planning, estate conservation, Medicare and end-of-life planning, they all want to know what they need to have in place now and in the future.

This “stuff” is over whelming. As a friend has said, her goal is to move from this life plane to the next without making a ripple in the universe. Now, I don’t need to be so esoteric — but I think it’s a very good idea to plan for life events all along the continuum of life.

Do I need life insurance, long-term care insurance, a will, powers of attorney, a trust? What should I do if I can’t take care of myself? Can I stay in my home or do I need to move? If I need to move, where do I go? The questions keep piling up and sometimes it seems impossible to find the answers.

But we here in the Grand Traverse region are lucky. For the last 18 years, the Bay Area Senior Advocates (BASA) has hosted the Ideas for Life Senior Expo. More than 120 exhibitors showcase products and services exclusively designed for those 55 and older.

Notice it’s called the “Ideas for Life” with the emphasis of the word “life.”

Within the confines of the Traverse City Civic Center you will find answers to any number of important life questions. I personally have had a booth for at least 10 of those years and I am still amazed at the scope of services and products exhibited. There’s everything from Social Security, to social awareness, to social activities for us mature adults.

Best of all — it’s free. You can have your hearing, blood pressure, eyes and other parts of your body poked and prodded for free. Lots of door prizes. Lots of food, with lunch thrown in for free.

Think of it as trick-or-treating for seniors. Heck, as you enter the Civic Center they even give you a bag for the loot you’ll collect inside. Did I mention it’s free?

So, join me Wednesday, May 15, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Traverse City Civic Center and get answers to your questions directly from the horse’s mouth. Please stop by my booth and say hello.

The Expo will take the place of my May Medicare 101 class. Classes resume in June.

Fred L. Goldenberg is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and the owner of Senior Benefit Solutions, LLC, a financial services and certified health insurance organization in Traverse City. Questions or comments about this column or interest in our monthly Medicare classes can be directed to (231) 922-1010 or fred@srbenefitsolutions.com.