Becky Says...

July 29, 2001

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Some Memories and Thoughts

It must be close to the anniversary of the time when my mother went into the nursing home after her second stroke. That's been on my mind. I should go look for that year's calendar to check the date---so much went on that summer I have a hard time remembering the dates. There are some stories from those days that I'll tell over time, with a warning ahead of them that even seven years later it still makes me fiery angry to think of some of the things that happened.

For the record, she was in a nursing home near her home, and later came to a rest home near mine. The anger has to do with the nursing home, not the rest home at all.

A few items: she could not keep her doctor---their rules, not his. So she was assigned to a physician who was so busy fighting charges of child molestation that he really didn't have spare wits with which to treat patients. And the social worker, whose diploma wasn't quite dry the day I met her, wrote in my mother's chart that Mother was demented. That was about as far from the truth as you could get, and I didn't know about it until I had taken Mother out of the place.

My main piece of advice to anyone about the subject: even if nursing home care is not what you want for yourself or a loved one, make sure you know the ones in your area anyway. Sometimes being in one, at least for a convalescent period, is inevitable. And it's much easier if you know ahead of time the general rules and regulations. There are avoidable pitfalls, but you need to know ahead of time they exist and how to avoid them.

And another piece of advice: unless you really are an expert on Medicare and Medicaid, or any other government programs, keep your mouth shut on the subject. I can't tell you exactly how many people who didn't know what they were talking about offered comments to me on the subject. But if I had a dime from each of them, I would be able to retire. And if I had another dime for all the times I was polite to those well-intentioned but mistaken people, I could fund a small country.

And my final bit of advice for the day: keep your paperwork in order. It saved a lot of time and effort for me that my mother had done exactly that.

Text copyright 2000-2001 Becky