As part of a lifestyle and aging series, we’re working with renowned photographer Terry Lorant to showcase inspirational leaders in the industry. Each month, we’ll feature one or a few inspirational member(s) of the Amazing Care Network community who is using his or her voice to empower others in the collective aging experience — and read, in their own words, what the Amazing Care Network’s efforts mean to them.

This month, we’re proud to feature Jeffrey Strong:

The Amazing Care part came into my world and really spoke to what we had been through with my mother.  She had Lewy Body disease, which is Parkinson’s and dementia together.  It was really rough.  She would have the forgetfulness and also the dementia part.  When Cora started Amazing Care, it felt like something in our lane because we had seen the deterioration of her quality of her life across the board over eight years. Amazing Care addresses that whole notion of ‘hey, we’re all getting older’, and you have to think about money and aging and all of that.  So it’s a good platform to have.  Very much so.

It deals with the fact that you have a lot of unforeseen expenses and other issues that you might never have considered.  When you have someone who is deteriorating, you have your normal standard insurance, and maybe even long term care insurance.  My mother worked for the State of California for Cal Poly.  She was a professor and had signed up for long-term care insurance, way before there was ever a thought that she’d need it.  And of course she thought/we thought, with that covered, she wouldn’t need anything else.  And of course, that wasn’t the case.  

There are times and situations where there were additional, unexpected costs.  And having an Amazing Care account puts you in a good position to begin to deal with that.  Little things that you’d probably never imagine…my mom got to the point, unfortunately with her deterioration where she needed a winch to be taken out of bed because that task was too hard on my dad. When they would go to doctor appointments, they’d get things prescribed that wouldn’t be covered under either the medical or long-term insurance.  With Amazing Care, it kind of sets you up to deal with those things.  

They don’t believe that Lewy Body is a hereditary disease.  They’re not sure, but at this point, they don’t think so. That said, my brother and I are taking a look at the probability aspect and we probably need to get ourselves organized for the long term.  So the idea of Amazing Care that’s nice, is time value of money.  Good old classic economics.  You’re packing away money, and it’s kind of like a Christmas Fund where you don’t see it…out of sight, out of mind.  It’s in an account where we’ll draw upon it some day.  Hopefully, not because I don’t have a brain anymore, but we’ll see. 

By the time that the Amazing Care Network was launched, my mother was far enough down the road that we were dealing with end of life care.  What would have been spectacular and would have really helped us at the time and really will help people now, is the knowledge base…having the physician friend of the family network, to be able to ask those questions.  That was one thing that my dad was really good at…he’s a former rocket scientist/engineer.  So he applied that intensity and focus to reading and questioning and asking and learning. But that’s on top of having to take care of her 24/7.  And, some research indicates, if you are a caretaker, you have a 50 – 60% higher probability of dying before the person you are caring for.  (check this info?)  Because it’s so laborious and stressful.  It’s a huge concern.  The time and energy, both physical and mental, all of that stress, it can sometimes really be the undoing of a caretaker.  You have to watch that.  If my dad had had somebody to call and chat with…it’s human nature…if you understand, it reduces the stress, you can be more relaxed and better able to manage the caregiving role.

My mother used to work at a nursing home.  She was a dietician, a profession of dietetics.  And she noticed in that role, that no matter what was going on, if the patients had good information, if they understood what was going on, they could accept their situation. When my mother’s mother passed, she was very deep into morphine, and things were going quickly downhill, but there was a tranquility with my mother because she understood…we’re now at this stage, and this will come next…and so on. Having, the information, even if it’s unpleasant, and you don’t like it, it does bring some kind of peace.  

The thing that fascinates me, we know death is coming, but as a society, we don’t talk about it.  And so that creates a whole set of unknowns and potential fear.  I don’t know what I don’t know…that’s huge.  And it affects everybody.  If not today, it’s coming.

I’m an Amazing Care member.  We always laugh in my family because I’m a tall, left-handed male.  I could be gone in a flash!  Males go before females, left-handed goes before right-handed, and tall goes before short.  I’m a unicorn; I’ll be gone in 10 seconds! 

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