Monthly Archives: August 2013

A Waitress Contributes

So my girlfriend and I go out for lunch.  I ask my friend how her elderly parents are doing, on the other side of the state, and she relates how they are in the midst of considering assisted living. So we go back and forth for a few minutes talking about the possibilities, and what I know both in my experience with caregiving and with Elder Law. The waitress stops by to take our order and says,

“Hi ladies! I don’t mean to intrude but I heard your conversation and wanted to tell you about my  dad.”

“Sure, I said. What’s going on with him?”

“Well, he’s in a rehab center now, but we just moved him from the county home to a private facility for which he is paying $6500.00 a month. He doesn’t know that but we decided to put him there because he is getting excellent care.”

“Why did he leave the county home?” , I asked her.

“Well, his insurance and the medical team there said that he has reached a point, medically where he was good enough to go home. And basically, we moved him directly from the county home to hospice care.”

” Wait, WHAT? I’m sorry. What is your name?” I asked her.

“It’s Donna.”

“Donna, I am so happy to meet you. I know how hard it is to be a caregiver. So let me get this straight. Your Dad is allegedly so healthy, that he no longer needs to be in the county nursing facility. But the minute you moved him to the new facility, that facility put him in the hospice program, which means your Dad is seriously ill. ”

“And”, said this hard working, generous soul of a woman, “my Dad is a veteran and served during the war. But he is not entitled to veteran’s benefits because he has too much in assets. So, we will blow through his money, if we have to. We will make sure he gets the absolute best of care, until the money runs out, or gets as close as we need to get him veteran’s benefits.”

I happen to be going to a seminar this week that addresses this exact problem. So if I find out anything to help her, I will seek her out and tell her. But even though the veteran’s issue may be true. The thing that really frosts me…the thing that can’t possibly make any sense…is that how can the county home and the insurance company look at this sick elderly man, a veteran for crying out loud, and say: “Sure, he’s ready to go home!” And so the family, who KNOW their Dad and know that he needs a truly high level of good care,  place him in an excellent facility, and are instantly told to put him in hospice care. Do these people not know what the word, hospice, means. It means this person is really, really, really sick….and NEEDS care.

Not really a laughing matter, but absurdity abounds in this caregiving world. Thanks, Donna, for allowing me to post  your story! I’m still looking for anything that might help you.

Cathy Sikorski

Hi Ho Hi Ho, it’s off to the pharmacy we go…..

Normally my time would be spent talking about my elder care experiences and the craziness that is insurance, clothing, finances, people, food, and anything else in an ‘ordinary’ day.  But caregiving, as I continue to find out, runs the gamut across all ages and time…for the caregiver, that is.

Yesterday, my 21 year-old daughter woke up with a pain in her eye.

“Mom, what does a scratched cornea feel like?”

“Well,” I said, “let me put it this way. I would rather go into labor 10 times with 10 babies 10 days in a row, than EVER have to feel a scratched cornea again.”

“Well, my eye hurts every time I close it, so I think I might have that.”

Since she wasn’t writhing on the ground in pain, screaming for an emergency room or an epidural, even though not pregnant, I was pretty sure it wasn’t a scratched cornea. But since she was leaving for college in 4 days, and I didn’t want to drive 5 hours in 5 days when she called me writhing in pain, I decided we should see if the eye doctor could squeeze us in. Of course, as with every one of my emergencies…this was a FRIDAY, so if not taken care of today, we would be in the emergency room tomorrow. Good, or tired, or worn-down caregivers learn to hate Friday NOT Monday.

After a thorough eye exam, the doctor tells us she has GPC. Weirdly, that’s a new one on me. I was pretty sure I could sit for a Medical Boards Exam by now. It’s a form of conjunctivitis that is not contagious, but must be medicated 5 times a day, then 4 times a day, etc. for a month. And you really should wear your glasses not your contacts because the medicine has to be put in without contact lenses in your eyes for at least 15 minutes each time. Well, you might as well have told this 21 year-old college girl to get a Cyclops eye, a Freddy Kruger mask and a mermaid tail to wear back to college. She does NOT have time for ugliness or inconvenience. Tough s***t, says mummy.

Now, before we even leave for the two prescriptions she must get in her EYES (yup, it’s in both eyes, the other done just didn’t hurt yet), we beg the eye doctor to send in our claim to insurance. We don’t have vision coverage, but this is a medical problem. So we will see. I know if I had taken her to the emergency room or the regular doctor, this would be covered. Call me crazy, but my doctor does not have all those zippity-do-dah eye machines to look into my daughter’s eyes and see what’s going on there.  And I asked the doctor if we could see it ourselves, and she said, “not unless you have a microscope.” So I will keep you good readers informed about THAT insurance result. Can hardly wait.

After we leave, we need to go see “L” my brother-in-law who has MS and I care for, which, was the ONLY thing I had to do today. HAHAHA. But first I need to stop and get him a few things on his list. I need to call his caregivers to give me an extra hour tomorrow to dress him for a family party. I need to call my sister, who is picking him up. And, when I finally get to see him, I find that we need to change his password for his retirement fund and BTW his computer has crashed.

SO THEN, I finally get to the pharmacy, where, coincidentally they know me by sight, don’t even ask for my name and go right for the drugs that have been ordered for me or any family member.

“Sorry, Cathy” says Rich (yea me and the pharmy are on a first name basis), but I only have one of your scripts.”

He sees my face fall…because remember, the college girl is going back to far, far away college in 4 days.

“BUT,” he quickly adds, cause he has also seen me melt down on just such occasions as this before….because there have been MANY of them, ” you can go to the pharmacy down the road and I’ve already put your order in there, where it’s been filled.”

“Yay!, and thanks,” I say, so kindly and enthusiastic.

I drive the extra 20 minutes, go into the NEXT pharmacy, and enter a fiasco with another poor customer whose insurance company randomly cancels her son’s much  needed insurance every  90 days. I feel so bad I want to pay the $70 for her medicine and I think I would have, but the pharmacist assures her she will be reimbursed, if she just pays for it now and comes back after a few phone calls. (More like 927 phone calls in  my experience).


You just have to laugh…….

Cathy Sikorski

About that Invitation……

Okay, I know you think you are doing a kind and generous thing by inviting my wonderful disabled L to your event. But here’s the thing, you are more than willing to put out that invitation and I will even go so far as to say, that you are doing it with the most generous of hearts and spirit. You know that this person you love is severely disabled, but you want to include them to show your love and acceptance. But the truth of the matter is, you really give very little thought to what an invitation means to the caregiver.

It is not for one minute that the caregiver does not want their charge included. It is extremely unlikely that the caregiver does not love this person as much, if not more than you do.After all, they are the caregiver.  But, but, but…….really…….what will this invitation entail? Will the caregiver need to acquire appropriate clothing so as not to embarrass you or the loved one on this special occasion of yours? Will the loved one’s schedule of care, bathing, medicine, toileting, assistance for dressing, undressing, getting out of bed, getting into bed, eating, drinking or sleeping work with your event? Have you considered in any way, how will my loved one get there? Does it require special transport? Who will make that happen? Who will pay for that? Have I tried to put any of that into place, or am I just sending out this invitation?  Am I also inviting the caregiver? So do THEY have time to get ready, get their loved one ready, get to your event? Is the event the appropriate venue for my disabled loved one? Will they be able to stay for any length of time? Will the caregiver just barely get there and then have to leave because the venue doesn’t work, there aren’t appropriate toilet facilities. it’s too hot, it’s too cold, there’s no food for them?????? And that, my friends, is the short list.

You see what I mean? In your zeal to be inclusive and loving, you may, in fact, be setting up the caregiver for an over-the-top horror show. And often, the caregiver loves you too and doesn’t want to disappoint you OR the person they so desperately CARE for. And more often than not, the one who is being cared for, wants to go. Of course they do. They want to get out. They want to engage with old friends and family.They also do not really want to consider the ups and downs of turning down an invitation. Likely because, all those kind and well meaning people who have sent out the invitation, never or hardly ever make the effort to come see or spend time with the disabled loved one. Life is busy, life is hard…..I know…..I’ll invite them to our special party!!!! That way we can see them, spend time with them and (God forgive me, feel less guilty, perhaps?)

Are you really thinking this through? Could you possibly change that invite to a special birthday, wedding, anniversary or graduation, to a special visit where you go see your disabled loved one. Take them a special meal, take them out for dinner, take a load off the caregiver.

Perhaps it’s not an invitation that is so welcome, as much as it is a two-by-four upside the head that says, “Duh…..maybe I have a better idea…..”

Cathy Sikorski