The old adage is true: You don’t know what you don’t know.
Annie*, nearing retirement age herself, found herself, along with her brother, needing to help her aging father. When they first started out, they were not aware of the options available for either care, when each type of care was appropriate, or how to pay for the much-needed care. Annie and her brother George* researched and learned as they broached new challenges to ensuring the best care possible for their father.
Annie Shares Her Story:
“About a month after my father moved to my brother’s home in Los Angeles, we engaged a caregiver to be with him during the hours my brother and niece were at work. At the age of 96, he naturally began to have weakness in his legs and we wanted someone at home with him for his safety and prepare his meals and keep him company. It was a definite blessing to know my father was well taken care of. Antonio* was always early or on time, and cheerful. He was someone my dad could talk to and have interaction with during the long hours my brother was at work. Sometimes it is easier to be yourself with someone with whom you have no history.
“My father had forethought – he had taken out a long-term care insurance policy that would help pay for the in-home care. Fortunately, he had told me about this ahead of time. My brother contacted the insurance company and after they evaluated my father’s situation and the information provided by the in-home care provider, he was able to receive payments that would cover 100% of the costs of the in-home care.
“About ten months later, he suffered a mild stroke and was in ICU for five days. He had bruising from falling on his walker as a result of the stroke and slight slurring of speech. But most significant was his increased difficulty in swallowing.
“In order to feed him, the hospital staff inserted a gastric tube. When they felt he was tolerating the tube and food satisfactorily, he was transferred to a nursing home. He had therapy there to improve the strength in his legs and ability to swallow to allow him to eat and drink normally again. After two months in the nursing home, they assessed that his swallowing had improved enough for the gastric tube to be removed and released him to come home.
“Of course, he needed in-home care again, and thankfully the same caregiver was available. Antonio had visited my dad at the hospital and the nursing home. He helped bring Dad home from the nursing home when my brother and I had the flu and could barely get around. At this stage, my father never fully recuperated and it was difficult to see him suffer. Antonio did all he could to make my father comfortable and happy. Although it was still hard to watch, we greatly appreciated everything Antonio did for our father.
“Unfortunately, after less than two weeks at home, Dad was admitted to the hospital again, this time suffering from pneumonia. My father spent the next three months going from hospital to nursing home and back again.
“Eventually, his medicare benefits ran out and would no longer pay nursing home costs; he would have to pay the entire amount himself. When he was ready to be released from the last hospital, we had no idea where he would go; which nursing home would take him and that he could afford. But one of the nursing home’s coordinators gave us the name of someone who helped find him a good assisted living home that could provide the care he needed. He also advised that because my father was a veteran, he could apply for GI benefits that could partially pay for costs of the nursing home. He provided information for services that we had not been aware were available.
“The quality of life of a loved one is very important to all of us, but it is often hard to anticipate what can happen in their life that will compromise it. With my father’s planning and the assistance of several people, we were able to get through the worst of his situation. It is best to plan way ahead, of course, but its not always possible, especially financially.”
Here are resources that can be helpful depending on one’s circumstances:
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of parties.
If you are considering in-home care for yourself or your loved one, please contact A Peaceful Way Home Care at (310) 377-3776.