I mentioned that something that happened in my personal life was one of the reasons I wanted to wipe the dust off of my blog. Please excuse this wall of text, but I need to get this all out of me.
Well, my mother is living with us now. She is 78 years old and is the survivor of a heart attack back in 2004. That was pretty rough on me as well as her. I had been married only a year and my oldest daughter was only a month old at the time. I never really thought about losing her but that made it all too real and I wasn’t ready to accept it.
She also had both hips replaced and a pacemaker/defibrillator installed in the years since. It’s quite remarkable to me that she is still going after everything she has had to endure.
Now she is suffering from either general dementia or Alzheimer’s which is a form of dementia that gets worse over time. She lived at her home where she raised us. My brother, who still lived nearby, was checking in on her everyday to make sure she was eating good and taking her medicines. I had to move from PA to OH back in 1999 for my job, but I am only about an hour and a half away so I still got to visit.
She had an episode at the end of April where she was extremely anxious, nervous, confused, and nothing seemed to be able to calm her down. My brother and her neighbors were helping as best they could but she was up at all hours calling them because she didn’t know what else to do. I offered to bring her out to my house for a change of scenery. She had stayed with us before after her first hip replacement. Well after two days in, I could tell something was not right and this was not normal even for her.
She was always a bit forgetful since the heart attack and her short-term memory seemed to be the worst, but it never caused her so much agony like it was now. I took her to the emergency room and they found she had pneumonia. Infections in the elderly can cause drastic changes in their mental states I found out. They were treating her for the pneumonia but she still seemed confused and unable to sleep well. She was referred to a geriatric psychiatry ward in a sister hospital. It took a week to get her a bed there.
Let me tell you, I used to visit my grandmother in the nursing home where she spent her final time in and it was very depressing. My mother and aunt regretted having to put her there but there was no way that they could care for her on their own. The time I spent visiting her in that ward made me remember the nursing home but somehow it seemed even sadder.
After a little over a week later, with her sleeping good thanks to medication and something to help with her nervousness I was able to bring her home. She is doing pretty well now. I found out the hard way that her medication for nervousness only lasts about five and a half to six hours. The visiting nurse put in a request to her doctor to have that changed, but in the mean time I am covering the gap so she doesn’t have any lapses and it has been working out well.
I went to an assisted living home yesterday with her that was recommended by the visiting nurse. It seems really nice. I hated that show “The Waltons” growing up but that is what the home reminded me of and that is perfect for her right now. I have been working from home since this all happened. I work in IT and my job is mostly flexible, but I cannot do this forever. I need to find either a senior day care to take her while I’m at work or someplace for her to stay permanently. The only problem is she only gets social security, a portion of my father’s pension, and her own small pension from working before she had us. That does not go very far, especially after you pay for her medications. I am barely getting by myself with my own family. I can’t pay anything extra for her, I can only do the best I can for her with the money she gets each month.
What is nice about the assisted living home is they said they would work with us and take what she gets minus the cost of her medications. This seems too good to be true to me. I would be lucky to just find a senior daycare place that would be cheap enough to afford with her medications.
I am trying to get her some Veterans Administration benefits, since my dad was a World War II veteran but that may take a while. I would really like to jump on this assisted living home but I don’t know how she would react. I am thinking about trying it out for a day to see how she handles it and go from there.
If you took the time to read this, then thank you. I think this rambling was more for me than anyone else. If you know anyone with loved ones getting older please make sure they plan for this kind of eventuality. Living wills, power of attorney documents with health care provisions, or health care power of attorney documents are all important. Have them pick someone they can trust to be that person. Try and get their assets moved over to their loved ones before a tragedy like this. Medicare only covers short term care. Anything long term has to be paid for or you can try Medicaid. To be on Medicaid, you need to be destitute. It varies from state to state, but the requirements are pretty low (under $2000 a month and not much in assets). Homes are not counted, but upon the loved ones death, each state is required to try and get all monies back from the estate to cover the benefits paid. They look back five years for this. I heard it might even be seven years now. My point is, don’t wait. Act on this early so that you will be ready in case this happens to someone you care about.