As a professional in the field of aging, Sara had seen it all—until her own mother broke her hip at the age of 88 and became profoundly confused, unable to live in her own home. Join Sara on her journey through the strangeness that is dementia while trying to make sense of it all and finding humor in the details. [Editor's note: Sara no longer contributes to Silver Planet, but we have made her archived blog entries available as a service to our readers.]
I thought raising kids was expensive and sending them to college even more so. But those expenses pale compared to the cost of caring for someone who is old and frail. As the “attorney in fact” for my mother, I write checks for thousands of dollars at a time on a regular basis. My mother, a retired social worker, would have a stroke if she saw the amount of money being spent on her care.
For many people, home equity is their single largest asset. When my mother needed to move from her home into an assisted living home, she sold her house and began living on the profit from that sale. Because of changes in residence and insurance (changing from an HMO to “traditional Medicare”), total monthly expenses skyrocketed to almost $7,000. Just the sheer volume of bills generated by one brief visit to the hospital is staggering. I can’t imagine most old people being able to manage the ongoing pile of medical bills.
And it’s not just one bill per service—it’s at least three: one from the provider, stating the services provided and the costs; one from Medicare, stating what they have paid; and one more from the provider, telling you what your share is. Multiply that by at least six providers—and that doesn’t include the ambulance to the hospital. That’s another story altogether.
My two brothers, Paul and David, have shown real generosity of spirit as we work together to care for our mom. Granted, I have all the day-to-day responsibilities and manage the money, but their support really means a lot. At first, I felt like I had to give them an accounting for how I was spending Mom’s money, but that was driving me crazy. “We trust you,” they said. I was truly relieved.
Unfortunately, between the time I started and finished writing this installment, I got a phone call from the assisted living facility. Mom fell and might have a leg fracture. She was on her way, via ambulance, to the emergency room.
And the bills keep coming. . . .
By Sara Myers
The Good Enough Daughter Blog