The only certainty in life is death. Yet we all go about our merry way and live life as though it will never happen to us, or the people we love. How different things would be if we weren’t all in denial about the end of life. Having an elderly parent forces one to face the reality of death.
When it comes to caring for an elderly parent, one would think everyone would be on the same page. When that parent can speak for themselves, you would think it would be even simpler. In our family of five children it hasn’t gone down that way.
I can’t even imagine how difficult it becomes when the parent can’t speak for themselves. Maybe when there is a durable health power of attorney that clearly spells things out, it’s easier. I don’t know. What I do know is adding to the heartbreak of my mother being sick with an inflamed gallbladder, and unable to withstand surgery because of a weak heart, I feel like I’ve lost one of my sisters.
Transition Care versus Home Care
From what I can tell, one of the biggest differences of opinion between my sister and me was transition care versus home care. (mine) My sister and I both told Mom we’d be okay with whatever she decided about where to go when she was released. The hospital seemed to agree with my sister. They claim people tend to get back in their own homes faster following a stay in transition care. Perhaps they can’t wait to get out, or can’t afford the expense? There may be good transition care out there, but I don’t hear anyone raving about it, and it’s not like you can always choose the one you prefer, as there may or may not be a bed available.
The last time Mom was in transition care they forgot to have her take her water pills, and with congestive heart failure, that could have been a fatal mistake. My Dad’s voice echoes in my head from one of his last stays in transition care before he passed away. “Sue. You’ve to get me out of here. They’re going to kill me.” Another reason I preferred my mom come home with me was cost. Medicare will pick up the cost of transition care in some cases following a 3 day hospital stay. In Mom’s case the hospital changed her to out-patient observation status, so she would need to pay for it out of pocket.
Physical Therapy at Home
Mom is able to get around with a walker. She’s not on oxygen or an IV. Basically she was just weak from being in and out of the hospital for close to a month, and needing to build up some stamina. A couple of days after she was released we visited her doctor, and I asked what she might not be getting at my home, that she would be getting in transition care. Mom’s doctor explained transition care is great after knee or hip replacement. Everyone thinks you will get tons of physical therapy, but in fact it’s more like twice a day for 30 minutes each. In Mom’s case she needs to rest after 5 minutes of walking because her heart is so weak. When I heard that, it confirmed to me that Mom was better off getting her strength back at my home.
It hasn’t been easy. She has occupational therapy, nursing visits, doctor and lab appointments, physical therapy, home health aids, and social worker appointments. Some are at her home, some are at mine. My husband and I moved to the guest room downstairs, so Mom can be on the main level. I’m blessed to have my mom in my life, and I don’t know how long she will be with us. But I feel my mom is better off with people who love her, than with people getting paid to care for her.
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