By David Besnette for Assisted Living Directory
It’s ironic in a way that I actually used my own site to try to find care for my mother-in-law, and I must say, I am extremely pleased with the results. I will try to explain my experience in the most unbiased way possible – and believe me, I am not trying to promote or boost my site, or anyone else. This is the straight scoop!
In March 2012, I asked the care advisors that we work with on Assisted Living Directory to help me to find care for my mother-in-law, who lives in eastern Pennsylvania. Here is how it has gone, and the back-story:
My mother-in-law, who is 82, has been the model of health and ‘good living’ as long as I have known her. She has lived in eastern Pennsylvania for over 50 years, and worked at the same job and company for about the same amount of time. She finally retired last year.
This fireball of a woman was dealt a serious health blow last year, when she found out that she had advanced Uterine Cancer. It had spread to many parts of her body, and the outlook was not great for her. Long story short, she went to Michigan to do chemo, and all of the yucky things that go along with that, and amazingly, she looked like she was beating it! She did so well that last summer, we invited her to join us for our family vacation at the beach to celebrate. She was back to being her highly energetic, talkative flurry-of-activity that she had always been – the woman that we know and love was back..or so we thought.
Things were going well until the fall of 2011, when she apparently started having some extreme weakness, and swelling in her body. My mother-in-law lives alone, in the same house that she has lived in since the dawn-of-time (her time), and so this was creating some real difficulties for her. The weakness progressed to the point that she couldn’t lift her arms to open the blinds, or get things out of the cabinets and cupboards.
My mother-in-law is proud, and tough. She doesn’t like to whine or complain, so she didn’t really tell anyone what was going on. We didn’t find out the seriousness of her health until a neighbor went to check on her, and she was on her back ‘scootching’ from room-to-room…too weak to walk.
She immediately went to the hospital, where they found out that she had Dermatomyositis – which is a pretty serious autoimmune disorder. We are not sure where this came from, but we think it may have been an unfortunate effect from the chemo.
To make matters worse for her, her weakness and swelling got to a point that she could no longer swallow (any attempt would send it down the wrong tube). So, for the past month, she has been on a feeding tube.
She was moved from the hospital to a skilled nursing center, and we had high hopes that with time, she would slowly get better. That has not been the case, as she has not shown any signs of improvement.
We received a call from the nursing facility asking us to start thinking about our “Plan B” to get her out of there. Apparently, if she doesn’t make progress, insurance won’t continue to pay, and thus, she’ll need to find another place to live, and to recuperate.
So, we were quickly thrust into a scramble to find her an assisted living home that will take her.
Not an easy task, given her situation, and health. We have learned that most assisted living facilities will not take a new resident if they are on a feeding tube. Our options were all-of-a sudden seeming very limited and very confusing.
My wife was frazzled, and really at a breaking point with worry, and trying to figure out what to do with mom. We considered bringing her out to where we live, but mom’s current health, and with the feeding tube, wouldn’t allow much travel.
I finally proposed that we give one of the Senior Care Advisor services on my site a try, so we contacted Seniorliving.net. I thought, well, if they can really help us, and save us time (my wife and I both work full-time, and we have a small child, so our time and energy resources are limited), all the better. Additionally, I’ll be able to really see what happens when families use the services on my site. I’ve never gotten a ‘complaint” about the senior care advising and consultant services listed on my site, and have received quite a bit of good feedback, but it’s always been a little bit of a mystery as to exactly what happens.
After I contacted Seniorliving.net, I received a very prompt response from Tami, who has worked with them for quite some time. She was never push, and was very flexible to my schedule in terms of figuring out a time to talk, and discuss the situation, and options. I absolutely loathe pushy companies, so this was a relief to me.
We finally figured out a good time to connect via phone, and Tami asked all of the important questions about my mother-in-law. Immediately, I knew that Tami was extremely familiar with assisted living and long-term care regulations and laws. Once she heard that my mother-in-law was on a feeding tube, she immediately let us know that assisted living was probably not an option, since this was beyond what assisted living could offer in the 3 states we were looking in as possibilities. Tami recommended that we look at nursing homes, and skilled nursing..
Tami took the time to ask us about my mother-in-law’s insurance and financial situation, and let us know when her Medicare would end, and that Medicaid wouldn’t kick in until the majority of her personal assets were used to pay for care (this is an unfortunate state that our national health-care system is in, in my view). She asked if my mother-in-law has long-term-care insurance, and we believe she does (she doesn’t even know what she has, since she has just retired, and her benefits have changed – so, we have had to make trips to her house to sort through her paperwork for her, which hasn’t been easy since all of her extended family lives in other parts of the county.)
Once Tami had a handle on our situation, she told us that she would research options for us in the areas that we were looking in, and get back to us shortly. Within a day, she had presented us with a solid list of facilities in each area that match what we need for my mother-in-law.
This saved us a huge amount of time and mental energy. It was always great to know that Tami was available to answer questions, or do further research. Tami has always made herself easily accessible to us, and she has taken the initiative to check in with us periodically as we are touring the facilities that she sent us. Never once has it been overbearing or obnoxious, and there has never been a sense of trying to ‘sell us’ anything. Our best interests, I believe, have always been in Tami’s, and Seniorliving.net’s own interests.
At this point, we have not decided on a facility for mom. We are still in the touring process, and still monitoring her health to see what type of move she can handle.
The bottom line is that we aren’t alone during this process. We have a truly knowledgeable and caring expert at our side, and to us, that has been worth it’s ‘weight’ in Gold.
I’ll post further updates as we move forward.