Regular readers of this blog may have noticed I haven’t added many new posts recently, which is to say that nobody has noticed I haven’t added many new posts recently.*
The reason I have not been posting is that I have been busy pondering. I’m not a good multi-tasker (actually, nobody is–they just think they are), so I have trouble simultaneously posting and pondering. I’ll sit down proposing to post, but I’ll find myself pondering instead, and then my mind starts to wander and suddenly I’m wondering what the hell I was going to write about in the first place. So with all the pondering and wandering and wondering, it’s no wonder I haven’t done any posting.
Right, pondering. So lately I have been pondering nothing less than the meaning of life. I don’t take my pondering lightly, you see. I believe that most people have only a limited capacity for pondering, and I like to reserve my pondering for really deep stuff. For everything else, I just kind of think, “Eh, whatever.” This is why I almost never have a good answer when my wife asks me what I want for dinner.
What was I talking about again?
Right–the meaning of life.
The thing is, I haven’t only been pondering. I’ve also been dealing with my mother, who lives in Florida, and who keeps falling and breaking things, mostly bones. She actually is a good multi-tasker; a few weeks ago she broke her pelvis and her shoulder with the same fall.
This resulted in a call one Friday from Doris, my mother’s neighbor. I had never previously received a call from Doris, and didn’t think my life was missing anything. Nevertheless, there was Doris on the phone, telling me that mom had fallen and was, at that moment, being loaded into an ambulance.
I followed her progress from my home in Connecticut, in much the same way that UPS tracks a package. The ambulance took her to the hospital, which kept her overnight, which seems to be the absolute maximum hospital stay allowed by Humana (motto: “That’s an ‘a’ at the end of our name, not an ‘e’”). It then shipped her off to the somewhat ironically named Margate Health Center, a combination rehab and long-term care facility which is right behind the hospital.
This particular facility was not, in fact, chosen because of its proximity to the hospital, but because it is one of the few in the area covered by Humana. It is not, shall we say, the Cadillac of rehab centers.** Let’s call it the Chevy Spark of rehab centers. It may get you where you need to be, but it’s not going to be a comfortable ride.
Now, my mom, who is 87, had been experiencing some forgetfulness. While she had been nowhere near full-fledged dementia, she was somewhere between “Why did I come into this room?” and “I have a son?” However, once she was given large doses of pain medications, her mind waved the white flag, and when she told me on Sunday that she was “being held naked like a prisoner of war,” I booked a flight.
Upon my arrival on Monday at the Margate Health Center, I discovered that it has a design problem. As I mentioned, it is a combination rehab and long-term care facility. The design problem is that visitors have to go through the long-term care part in order to get to the rehab part. This entails blazing a path through a haphazardly-arranged collection of wheelchairs containing barely-conscious, drool-encrusted, head-lolling permanent residents. Those among the rolling dead who were not parked seemingly at random along the hallways had been placed together in large rooms which, inexplicably, had classic heavy metal music rock playing over loudspeakers. Perhaps the establishment believed that what modern medicine could not accomplish, Black Sabbath could.
This is where my pondering began.
It is now a month later and I’m still pondering. I’m pondering, as I said, the meaning of life and, more urgently, what the heck to do with my mother. She’s recovering from her fall. She’s walking again. She sounds more coherent on the phone, although she claims she spent one night having dinner in the apartment of some black people.
At least Humana fully covered my mom’s stay at the Margate Heath Center…for 20 days. After that, a $150-a-day copay kicked in. And the 20th day, thanks to my mom’s poor planning, fell exactly on Thanksgiving Day. This was not conducive to me booking last-minute flights to go down there or to making other arrangements for her care.
So she got $450 worth of extra rehab at the Margate Health Center. Meanwhile my wife and I flew down the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend to prepare her apartment for her return. On Monday, I took her home, where she will have 24-hour assistance. Fortunately, mom has long-term in-home care insurance which reimburses her at $199.02 a day. Unfortunately, at $17 an hour, 24 in-home care costs $408 a day. (Don’t ask me why the coverage is for $199.02. I guess someone in the actuarial department threw their two cents in.)
Mom will not be able to afford 24-a-day care for very long. After a month or so, she’ll have to cut it down to 11-hour-and-42-minute-a-day care. Then she’ll be fully covered.
Otherwise, we’ll have to figure out something else. We’ll probably have to sell her condo and use the proceeds to put mom in an assisted living place of some kind. In Florida, those cost about $3000 a month, which means mom will be able to live in one for five or six years. And after that, I think Medicaid kicks in or something. I’ll have five or six years to figure it out.
That’s part of what I’ve been pondering.
Meanwhile, you might be pondering a few things yourself. Like why I’m not chipping in for my mother’s care. Or why I’m not even considering bringing her into my home to live with us. Or why I’m such a terrible person.
I will endeavor to answer those questions in my next post.
See you soon.
P.S. Cartoon in this post found at the blog “Vibrant Bliss.”
*Except Nancy. Thanks for reading, Nancy.
**I should hasten to add that, although the Margate Health Center is very depressing, they do handle a Herculean task of caring for elderly people who are in various stages of disrepair, not to mention in limited control of their bodily functions. And my mom, after all, is indeed walking again. So kudos to the Margate Heath Center…especially if mom ever winds up back there again.