Aging in Place


The biggest challenge this week has been listening to “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande.  While I can appreciate why my talk therapist / life coach asked me to read this prior to our next session, the information imparted was something I’m highly familiar with and would have chosen not to revisit in such depth.


I grew up in a household of a talented, yet ner-do-well father, and a hardworking, 2nd class citizen mother.

Fear of poverty and homelessness has been something I’ve lived with and fought aganst my entire life.  One can’t let one’s fears get the better of them.  Listening to the book, though, has stirred up all my anxieties.  Fighting with my employer about sick pay benefits owed with zero income coming in is not helping to reduce those anxieties.  The story is a great retelling of questions and answers one needs to think about before the end is upon one, however, it’s also told from a wealthy, there’s plenty of money viewpoint which is not at all helpful from my point of view…

Though my income doesn’t compare to that of my sister-in-law, who could single-handedly feed and house a small village on her annual bonus alone, I’ve done ok taking care of myself.

Due to my underlying birth defects, I’ve never been one to expect to live this long – even though moving to sunny and dry California from damp and chilly (or humid and intolerable) Massachusetts improved my quality of life, and, exponentially, my longevity.

I’ve pretty much been a short-term thinker because my life hasn’t been stable.  Fires, floods, explosions, family illness, whatever.  I’m a roll with the punches kind of gal, and I focus on being satisfied with knowing I’m doing the best I can to survive, and have generally done ok, regardless of the short-term challenges.

That being said, though, my efforts to replace my retirement income after cashing out my 401k in 2011 (family issues) was largely successful, and I got it back up to $77k in a little over 3 years.  I live VERY frugally.

The cost of this little sortie into qualifying for disability, though, has been scarily expensive.

Having the tax guys freeze and scoop some of my money – again – (I don’t know why) has also added to my anxiety.

The $24k I took as loans from my retirement fund is dwindling, and I still don’t have a ruling one way or the other from the state about whether or not my disability will be approved.

Poverty is looming closer and closer in my future, due to my current health reality, so reading, “Being Mortal” and learning about how hopeless end of life situations may be is not helping my frame of mind.

Medical tests, urgent care visits, physical therapy, talk therapy, second opinion doctors and stem cell treatments to be considered, etc., etc., etc., are draining my immediate cash, as well as making me focus on the bad news potentially in my future if I don’t get approved for disability (to have some money coming in).

Yesterday, I went to jury duty because the only way to get out of it was to have my doctor sign off their medical excuse paperwork (another $133 office visit).  While I was lucky to be excused in a couple of hours after being called because the case settled, I worry that the fact that I chose to save $133 will be used against me should my employer determine that my failure to protest shows I’m well enough to work.

With all of this in mind, I can also see that there are very few “aging in place” options for people who don’t have buckets of cash in either stocks or the equity in their homes.  I prefer to live in apartments, and my crazy landlord has raised the rent continuously since I moved into this dump.  While I have spent my own money to rehab it, slightly, I’m rapidly approaching the point where I’ll have to leave all my friends and quality of life pleasures to consider moving into some backwater that I can afford.  Or, go back to work and hope that my health will allow me to keep up and not be fired.  Scary options, whichever way one looks.

While I had been thinking that the California Death With Dignity Law would give me sone humane options to plan a reasonable end via euthanasia, the reading of the law shows that it’s mostly for wealthy people given the number of hoops one has to jump through to exercise that option (and who knows where that cash would come from?).

No easy answers here.  I’m taking the zoloft for my perimenopause hot flashes, and I think it’s playing tricks with my thinking.

I am tired and napping more since I started that medication, but I can’t tell if it’s the meds alone, or if it’s also dragging me down to deal with this lingering sinus infection.

I haven’t been to the YMCA for almost a month (the toenail surgery kept me out, and now the congestion is keeping me from exercising) and I am desperately in need of some gentle exercise to help get my head on straight again.  Sleeping sitting up in a chair is helping to keep me from drowning and coughing my head off, but the related lack of a sound night’s sleep doesn’t help either.

Hopefully, the skin doctor will check my leg tomorrow, where I had the cancer surgery in 2013 and dismiss the lump as a keyloid vs. a return of the cancer.  They won’t let me do the stem cell treatment until I have been cancer free for five (5) years, worst-case, so I have my fingers crossed that I’ll get good news tomorrow.

If I want to age in place, since I’m a single woman and not a homeowner, I need to be able to return to work to build up my emergency fund.  To do that, I need disability income, and a chance to try the stem cell therapy.

Fingers crossed that tomorrow will improve my spirits.

For now, I’m going to go listen to an escapist storyline, and hopefully stay awake enough to get Christmas cards written or more jewelry made.  This sleeping all the time is for the birds !

If you like were-animal stories, I recommend this one:


Who knew Harlequin was involved in it’s publication?  Let’s hope the audiobook is as good as the novel.  (The narrator makes a huge impact on how well the story translates to an audio version).

2 thoughts on “Aging in Place

  1. I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the recommend! 🙂 I wish there were something I could do or say to make things at least FEEL better for you, but there isn’t. I know how scary it is to be in your position and I think the therapy is a good outlet for letting go of those emotions. One doesn’t feel quite as alone when there’s someone to talk to. Or so I’ve found. Let the therapist know about the reaction of the Zoloft, vis a vis the increasing sleeping and the lack of it calming you. Maybe it’s not the right medication – there are dozens out there. I’d never heard of it being prescribed for hot flashes, so maybe they’re using a different dosage/brand/type or something than the one I take. It’s an antidepressant, the only one that works for me. I hope you can get back to your exercise soon. I think (and have been told repeatedly) that exercising provides a host of benefits when one is anxious. Something that you might consider doing is writing out your worst case scenario and then burning it or something….getting rid of the worst that way. It’s symbolic, but it’s worked for me. No answers here, only know that you have lots of people rooting for you and there is help if you need it. Keep us posted, okay?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ok. You know that writing is my purge therapy, so you’ll hear more when I know what’s going on. As of today, work said they expect me back on 28-Dec, when the FMLA runs out, so I’ve got about 2 more weeks before this comes to a head. Thanks, as always, for your positive support. I *will* get through this nightmare.


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