Dear Francy; How can I keep caring for my mother when my budget is not covering my family costs, let alone what I need to care for her?
You need help. If you have a parent or other family member that needs care and does not have the funds for the care…you will have to reach out to your community for services. It could be as easy as adding food stamps or as complicated as going on state assistance.
I was faced with those issues when I had my mother come and live with me. We had our house payment, and budget on our income and then she had her special medical needs, food needs and medications all resting on her small social security check…we needed help. So, I asked for it. I found a gal at the nursing home that my mother had gone to for recovery after the hospital and she pointed me in the direction of the state assistance in my area. I was very nervous about applying for help. I felt embarrassed, but you have to work through that because life has to be addressed and you’re the only one that will make that forward motion happen. So just force yourself to make that call.
First they send out a case worker that just puts the information together and decides if the senior qualifies for care. I had to have mother’s Power of Attorney to do the work for her. So we got a very inexpensive software program with family law and did a Power of Attorney agreement that printed right off my own printer. We went to a bank to have the notary stamp done. Then it was off to the bank to collect anything that would be of help from her lock box. I got all of that and proceeded to fill out the paperwork.
Yes, there was a lot of paperwork but you know it was not as bad as you think. I just went through it step by step. They needed proof of income and that was a couple of month’s bank statement. They needed to know her doctors listing and her medication listing. They wanted to know if she owned anything and my mother did not own property. But, even if they do own property they can still get assistance so do not worry about that. Fill out the paperwork and follow their advice.
Once the paperwork was done, they toured my home and made sure she had a comfortable area to live and that it had a way to escape in case of fire and a bathroom and such things. It has to be clean and easy for her to use. I had taken two bedrooms and made one for her sleeping and one for her sitting room. I had filled them with her personal furniture and things and then she had the bathroom all to herself. There was a door to the outside right by her room and a good alarm for fire.
They looked over my kitchen and made sure that I could keep it clean. They interviewed both myself and my husband to make sure we did not have problems with drugs or drinking and that our lifestyle would provide room for mother’s care. That done.
Now, they went down to Mother and gave her an interview. They sat there with a laptop and asked her all sorts of questions. Was she happy here, was she in need of any thing. What was wrong with her health, how well did she walk and they would watch her as she answered the questions. They rated her on a curve over each question. Did she respond, could she understand, could she hear, could she eat, could she bath herself, could she dress herself. All of these questions were to determine what kind of care she needed. They would asses that and put hours of service on it so they knew how to give her care.
Next came me and they interviewed me. Did I want to care for her? If yes, was I willing to take some basic nursing classes to get certified by the state to give her care. I said; Yes.
The first case worker left and a week later we received the second case worker this one was to welcome us to the program and teach us how to use it. They got her on a medicaid card for medications and showed us how to order them. They got her on a special doctor listing and how to use her medicare along with the medicaid. They helped us over one hump after another. It was worrisom, yes, it was a lot of work, yes. But, it was so worth it. A nurse and physical therapist came to evaluate her and they were both helpful and understanding.
Mother’s care case worker came over to evauatie us and introduce herself. She came over about once a month and I could call her any time. So, when I had a problem, I called her. Example: mother was found to be low on her protein intake. She was having problems with her teeth and they would have to come out and she was going to get false teeth. Until that process came to an end, mother was unable to eat well. I had tried to fed her things with high protein but it was not enough. I tried to give her protein drinks but they were not enough. So, I called her case worker and she got a special protein drink for her and it was then delivered once a month and I did not have to pay the out of pocket for that product. Those were the things that made the difference between mother living with us or not.
It is the little expenses that add up and if you can not find help with the state…then talk to your extened family. You may find each person could help you with one or two small items each month that will relieve the strain of the expense.
If you have to go out and work and leave your senior at home. Make arrangements with other family members and neighbors in case of emergancy. Have a calling system in place and have the home all ready for emergancies. Leave food and water in a safe place. Make sure the commode is handy if they have problems with walking to the bathroom. Just think it out and you will be surprised how much you can do to ready the day for care. If she is on state assistance they can provide the check-in care for her and that really makes things easier for you.
If you have to have someone come and check on her once during your work day. Ask a young neighbor who is at home with her children. She will enjoy trading time with you for baby sitting on the weekends or the evenings. Or she will be thrilled with a home cooked meal each week that you can deliver in exchange for her services.
Be open to ideas and ways to share with others. Maybe a senior neighbor would come over for a check-in each afternoon. You could exchange rides to the store and food for dinners or special supplies that they might not be able to afford. There are always ways to get it all done.
Have a sit down with your family and explain your concerns and worries. Let them be a part of your time and money challenge. Do not keep it to yourself…ask others to help you. Keeping quiet will do one thing. It will make you “sick”. Many caregivers get sick over the many stresses that family and care giving parents – bring into their lives. So do not allow that to happen to you. Talk about it to your family, friends, church, boss, etc. Let people know you are doing your best and you are open to suggestions and any support or support services they may know about.
There are people right in your area that are senior service trained…reach out and ask them for help! Remember you are loved and appreciated. I know that often times those words get lost among the chaos, but they’re true.
Thank you for all you do and please come and visit my website for more information and support. www.seniorcarewithspirit.com
Best wishes, francy Dickinson