As stated in my first Living Lesson, this is my way of not forgetting my experiences dealing with our Mom's passing. They are not meant to be depressing or meant to throw a damp rag on your day. But rather, I hope that you will find encouragement through my experiences and know that death isn't the end and can be a beautiful thing if one's heart is in right relationship with our Father. We must go on cherishing what we had, while moving forward enjoying today and looking forward to the future. I'm a more mature person emotionally and spiritually than I was a year ago. The first two Living Lessons are here and here.
#3 is a practical one: Get help--no, DEMAND help--ask questions, get answers. It will save a whole lot of time untangling from all the red tape when it comes to dealing with the government.
I'm talking Medicaid. And I'm talking my sister and I flying by the seat of our pants, which gave us less quality time with our Mom. For that I regret.
Now, I know Medicaid is helpful for those who need assistance but, oh my goodness, it's crazy the hoops you have to jump through. And in our case the lack of help. It was like pulling teeth to get questions answered. (And it actually wasn't until Mom's last month--though of course we didn't know that--when we had to move her to a Medicaid-approved facility that finally...FINALLY...the financial office in the nursing facility sat us down and helped us. It was so aggravating.)
Our SIL, Mary, got the ball rolling because we knew Mom wasn't in a financial position to pay for long-term care if needed, nor were any of us. Everything happened so quickly from the time Mom was diagnosed to the time she entered the hospital for treatment. Consequently, Mary was helping her fill out all of her financial information the night before. Every 'I' had to be dotted and every 'T' crossed. Everything was done and sent in by Medicaid's deadline.
Thankfully Mom ended up not needing Medicaid assistance as she passed away a couple days before it would need to kick in. But since death has its own timing, we had to move forward as if we were going to need it.
So, here's a few of my tips:
Tip 1: Find a social worker or liaison to help. There is usually someone in the hospital and/or nursing care facility that helps walk you through the Medicaid process. If not, FIND ONE. I know for certain now that the Hospice program has social workers that will guide you in the right direction or help you themselves. Even before Mom required Hospice, they were very accommodating.
Tip 2: The internet is your friend. There are sites specifically geared towards people dealing with end-of-life as well as forums where you can ask questions.
Tip 3: If you need an attorney, get one. At least a consultation. It was well worth the couple hundred we spent. Our attorney understood how confusing and frustrating the Medicaid process could be.
Tip 4: Be organized. Every document, every receipt should be within reach should anyone need it. I carried all of our Mom's vital documents with me where ever I went. I made the mistake of leaving my 'vitals bag' at home one time (I lived one and a half hours away), never again!
Tip 5: And this one pertains to before anything such as our family experienced occurs. Know what your loved ones wishes are. Know if Medicaid will be necessary and begin preparing now. Even knowing more how our Mom's Medicare worked would've been helpful.
I know I have probably just preached to the choir, but when you've had no experience dealing with government agencies, hospitals, nursing facilities, etc., it is daunting. If there is one person reading this that it may help, then it was worth writing about.
It's All No More Red Tape Good!