Saturday, April 16, 2011

I'm Back!!! And OMG the places that I've been.

For those of you who haven't noticed, I've been away from this blog for a few weeks.  Not out of neglect but out of necessity.  My mom recently injured her back and after a stay in the hospital and another in rehab, she was sent home but very much in need of care.  So I stayed.

You can't go home again.  My home town has done a complete 180 in the 30 years I've been away.  It was a vibrant town until the 70s when local industries began closing down or moving out.  The population was mostly French Canadian, Irish, Italian and Polish. Taking a break from Mom, I took long walks to the library to check my email and saw many empty shops in the center of town.  Not many people on the street. In line in the Post Office I heard Spanish frequently spoken.  There's a small Arab population some of whom own gas stations and rental businesses.  And the great pizza place near Mom's is owned by a Greek man with a heavy accent.

The world of senior citizens.  Mom is in her 80s as are all her friends. Many are hard of hearing, only one still drives, and you can't move or talk fast in their company.  They get confused easily.  Having worked many years at UMass with a really young population who want things instantly and who were more apt to confuse me than be confused, this was an adjustment.  I wish I had a dime for every time I heard "The golden years aren't so golden."

Health care for the elderly.  In the 2 weeks I lived with Mom I took many phone calls from the hospital and rehab facility checking on Mom but with no answers to my concerns about the meds and their side effects.  While she was in the hospital all they did was keep her medicated and fed.  And when beds were needed, they moved her to rehab. And the hospital had to actually get permission from her insurance to move her to rehab.  Rehab can only keep patients for short stays or insurance people get upset.  People of a certain age take a lot of time and patience that most medical personnel have in short supply. And it takes money that insurance companies don't want to part with.  So we got home care.  Visiting nurses came every other day and were helpful.  The physical therapist came twice and just made matters worse and the occupational therapist never showed at all.

Where do the elderly go?  We were very fortunate that the assisted living facility where Mom's been on a waiting list for months called while she was in rehab and said they had an apartment.  Thus began the paperwork, visits to get doctor forms filled out, have her assessed, etc.  Once she was accepted there was her depression over leaving her home of 60 years, some denial that she needed help, and anger.  Getting her to decide what to take was near impossible so I made decisions and moved a few things each day.  The logistics of moving furniture was made much easier for me when my husband and 4 of his friends came in like ants and got it all done in a couple of hours.  I guess seeing the furniture gone made Mom realize that it was really happening.  When I came back to get her after the furniture was moved, she had accumulated 2 boxes of clothes and things she had to take.

She's in a really wonderful place where "companions" help with many of the little things residents often can't do--tie their shoes, make sure they take their meds, help them into bed, cook 3 home cooked meals a day, and plan dozens of activities each week.  The staff love working there and the residents are friendly.

More paperwork, this time for the feds.  In order to get help paying for Mom's new apartment I contacted Elder Services.  They actually have counselors whose sole job it is to help people wade through the 19 pages of application for Veteran's benefits.  My dad was in the Navy during WWII so Mom qualifies for survivor benefits.  There's a 3 page doctor's form, one that gets filled out by assisted living and the rest is all about Dad.  They want discharge papers, his military serial number, where he entered and departed the service and dates.  Wouldn't you think they would have that information somewhere in Washington?  Don't they realized how difficult it is to locate papers that are 70 years old?  Of course they do.  That's why Elder Services gives you help.  The VA can deny your claim if you make an error or are missing information.

So I'm glad to now be back home and doing a craft show this weekend.  I'll finish the VA paperwork too but I want to take some time to make a couple pieces of jewelry and feel normal again.


  1. WOW! Glad to have you back, even though it was a good reason you were away. Your mom is very fortunate to have you! Sounds like you've been navigating the health care and care-giving gauntlet just like us though! All I can say is...they should have a phone number you can call, and someone on the other line to do the paperwork, while you do the actual "caring for" work!! And don't get me started about Insurance companies....Grrrrrrr! We're at an impasse in our navigation attempts. Big Insurance company boulder in the road!! Hopefully we'll get it moved...or blow it up (figuratively speaking, of course!...Gotta be careful what you say these days! ^_^)...soon! ^_^ Glad to have you back!

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  3. Sorry I had to delete my other blog post as it had too many misspellings, lol.

    Anywho, if it's difficult for you to locate one man's papers imagine how hard it is for the military to locate one man's papers going back half a century, lol. They often lose things due to relocating them and things like that, or a storage facility burns down, they get misfiled, whatever. I just put my discharge papers and military paper stuff all in one folder and leave them there all together and if I need them right there they are as once you are military you know you need them for every single thing just about so I know right where they are even 21 years after having been discharged. I can't tell you the times I have needed them since being discharged and that is never going to change probably so keeping them in one envelope in the same spot where I can find them makes it easy on me.

    Sorry your town has degraded or whatever. We have people living all around us like that too but I much prefer it to the cookie cutter look where everyone looks and sounds the same. I admit I love my diversity.

    I hope your Mom gets better.


  4. Thanks to both of you. Poetess, sorry you've had a rough time with health care. I've never had to deal with these kinds of things before so I had no idea how difficult they make it.

    Puss, I think I knew you were in the military from one of your old posts somewhere. My dad kept things from the Navy more as souvenirs than as important papers he'd need later. So I found them in different places, one only by accident. I have one that says he was honorably discharged but I don't know if it's the one they're looking for. In a strong box my parents kept receipts from for furniture they bought in 1960 and no longer own, but some military papers were in a pile of old stock statements. Go figure.

  5. Oh, and as for my comment about my home town--I have no problem with diversity, I just meant that new ethnic groups have moved in as the old ones moved out. But the town has so little to offer. I noticed part of the high school is boarded up. It's just depressing.