Monday, December 29, 2014

Living Lessons #3 Can someone just help us?

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!



  1. Excellent advice! Because I work in a nursing home, I've seen how hard it can be.

  2. Yes, I very much agree. We have dealt with this kind of thing over the last few years as we moved my m-i-l 2,000 miles to an assisted living facility near us, then to a nursing home, then to our home when she got down to 90 lbs. We thought we were bringing her home to die, but she has thrived and put weight back on with one-on-one care. Thankfully she had a living will and such before she came. It is so important to deal with these issues before they are too forgetful or sick to discuss it. The social worker in the nursing home was a great help.

    Forgive me if I already mentioned it before, but I did a series earlier this year on "Adventures in Eldercare" dealing with our experiences here: This link places them in reverse order, with the last post at the top and the first one at the bottom.

  3. Excellent post, Brenda. The other thing I would add talk to your aging parents about their passing and how they want things handled. I think sometimes "kids" hate to bring the subject up but believe me as we age, I'm 77 (this month) & Mickey 82 and going to our Heavenly home is not a subject we are afraid of or shun. Ask all kinds of questions. We have a very open conversation with our 3 children and have had for years. Ask about burial preferences, etc., about disposition of material things if you have specific requests of items, etc. Don't mean to hi-jack your excellent post!!!

  4. This last year was hard for you all. But I loved seeing how the entire family worked together to do what was needed and to be with Grandma.
    This last year has been quite the eye opener on how important it is to have things lined up and to be prepared.
    Love ya


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