News, Information and Ideas on how to deal with hearing loss in a hearing world. Plus a few other topics!
Boy, did we learn a lot on this subject. After Mom was admitted to a nursing home/rehab facility, we had to figure out what to do with her current independent living apartment. Add in the emotion of things and this can become a whirlwind of questionable decisions for families.
In our case, we were all under the impression that Mom would only be in the nursing/rehab facility for a few weeks. Just long enough to get her back on her feet. We contacted the person in charge of the Independent Living Units with the intention of moving her stuff into a storage area until we could figure out what was going to be next. Unfortunately, we decided to go to the next step and move all of her stuff into her new Assisted Living Apartment at the same complex. We were on the fence as to which way to go since we knew that there was a chance a unit would not be available upon her dismissal from the nursing/rehab area. But, since she had signed up and paid for 'Lifetime Rights' several years ago, we also knew that the current rent that she was paying on her apartment was way below what was now being charged. That's probably the best benefit of her enrolling in the Lifetime Rights agreement 13 years ago. In Moms' case, she saved thousands of dollars over those years.
The Assisted Living units were much more in rent. But, we figured that since she would be moving into that area in a few weeks, we might as well get this done. It was Labor Day weekend and the remnants of Hurricane Issac were raining down upon us. We had also left Wisconsin not realizing that we were going to be moving her to another building. Being in a small town, the resources for help were limited. So, we decided to use our vehicle and start moving. This is when we all realized just how much one little lady can get into one small apartment. It was astounding! Every drawer that we opened was packed. The closets were almost inaccessible. What we thought would be a few hours turned into 2 days.
We were also trying our best to consult with Mom as to what she wanted and what could be thrown out or donated. Of course, she wanted all of it. So, after going through what we determined to be necessities and throwing out the 'garbage', we finally got her moved in. Took another couple of days to get it all unpacked and put away. Our goal at that point was to try and put things in similiar places to where she had them in the old place. We went ahead and hooked up the phone again and opted to hold off on the cable service until we had a better idea of when she would be moving in. Here's what we learned in hindsight after jumping the gun on this.
We probably should have just left her things in the independent living apartment. As it turned out, she never did move into the Assisted Living Unit and we paid the higher rent for 3 months. We could have saved ourselves a lot of time and just left things as they were. So, when you find yourself in this situation, think about the possibility of your elder not moving to Assisted Living. It's very possible that they will skip this step entirely based on their medical needs. While your emotions are telling you to take care of things like this, you may be moving too fast and not even know it. We did permanently change her address to ours at this point since none of us were going to be down there on a daily basis to get the mail.
When you get to the point where they are having you sign the 'lease', remember to read the fine print. Make sure that you know what their policy is if you are going to be vacating the unit. Usually, if it's due to a death, they will forgive the rent. Ask them! There are some places that will continue to charge the family/estate until they get the unit rented again. This could take months depending on the need in the area. This is also a good time to find out what services are covered and what are additional. There are so many different plans at these places. You can easily double your monthly rent fee if they don't include the basics such as, assistance bathing, meals, meds supervision, ect. If you need to make a notation on the lease, do it. Once you sign it, things discussed verbally are forgotten. Get a copy and make sure that they have your contact info. as well as any copies of legal papers such as the POA for Healthcare, Trustees for Financial, ect.
If, for some reason, the POA for Healthcare is not activated (all states have different rules), type up a statement requesting the facility contact you on any new things or changes that are being done for your Elder. Have the Elder sign it in front of them and request that it be part of their file. This will then give you a baseline to start with should they decide not to let you know what's going on down the road. Keep in mind, that some states will allow the Elder to rescind the POA Healthcare even if they are no longer competent to make that decision. It's just another way for the facility to get out of having to keep you updated and a great way for them to add more services (costs) at a later date. Are we having fun yet?
There are some places that may try and pressure you into moving too fast. We were lucky in that we had an exceptional Admissions person for the Independent/Assisted Living Units where Mom resided. But, we've also heard some stories from other families of high pressure tactics used to get the families to sign up for services or living arrangements when the resident is still in the nursing/rehab/hospital stage. While it's unfair for places to do this, they are also looking at their bottom lines. Think about what you really need at the time. It may save you a lot of money that is needed in the future.
As we were packing up her things to move her to Wisconsin last December, we realized that this was the time to start asking immediate family members what, if anything, they would like. We knew that her new place was going to be limited on space and also realized that some of her things, she would never be using again. This can be a very emotional stage for everyone involved. Keep in mind that you are going to have some that just don't want to deal with any of it and others that may decide that they want everything. Again, we were lucky. We all worked together on this part and everyone was happy.
We also brought Mom over to the place as packing was starting and asked her what she wanted to take. She had readily agreed to move to Wisconsin and we really admired her for making that decision. After all, we were taking her out of her world of 60+ years. We paid close attention to her emotions and even if we knew she was not going to be needing those gardening gloves, when she started telling us the story of how she had used them over the years, into the box for Wisconsin they went.
One week before Christmas, we rented a U-Haul trailer, packed Moms' stuff in it, made sure that she had a few days to say her goodbyes and headed for Wisconsin. She rode with Brian in his car and they followed behind me, towing the U-Haul. We will always remember that ride. There were a lot of emotions as well as relief in knowing that we would no longer be 4+ hours away from her. She got to take a good look at the flat lands of Illinois and wasn't too impressed with the white stuff on the ground as we made our way into Wisconsin. One of the grandkids had gotten her a Cheesehead button for her coat. Even though she's a diehard Bears fan, she wore the button proudly and told everyone that she saw on the way that she was now a Cheesehead. Keeping your sense of humor and remembering to see the good stuff during these times is a big priority for everyone involved.
We had found a great place in Waukesha for her to move into the following day. Our kids had taken time from work and also recruited additional help to get her things unloaded and moved in. One of us stayed with Mom at our house while all of this was going on. Having a fragile elderly person in your house for the night is akin to bringing a new baby home. In our case, we have 14 steps to the main level of the house. We knew that Mom couldn't climb those stairs, but our youngest son was waiting in the driveway with his deskchair when we arrived. Seeing how gently he and Brian moved her from the car to the chair and then proceeded to carry her up the front steps to the house was another moment etched in time. It's the little things that will get you on this journey!
The following morning, we loaded her in the car and drove her to her new 'home'. The staff was waiting for us and made her feel welcome. Of course, when we got her to her new 'digs', she began to tell us where she wanted things. After a few days of unpacking as well as many tours of the new facility, we could tell that she was going to be just fine. Little did we know that we still had a few surprises coming our way. More on that later!
Have a great week!