Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are expensive. One would think that Medicare would pay for nursing home care if the person (who has paid into the system for their entire life) cannot take care of themselves. But it doesn’t. Medicaid does, however, but it only pays… 40? percent.
There are three stages to receiving nursing home care. This is, according to what my experience has been so far, the only procedure.
A. Hospital stay
- Break something at the grocery store, preferably a leg so that you can’t walk.
- Take an ambulance and worry the entire ride that you won’t be able to pay for the ride.
- Get a cast on your leg and meet with the doctor.
- You have to stay overnight, at least, because your spouse isn’t strong enough to help you in and out of your wheelchair. (Your house isn’t fitted for a wheelchair.)
- Have your social worker call a million places to see if anyone has a bed open and will take you. (Beds are getting harder to find because we are all aging pretty quickly.)
- Medicare pays for 20 days, but they don’t pay for your incontinence needs. You sit in soiled pants all day because you can’t afford to buy more than one a day. (Not that it matters, because the staff doesn’t have time to help you change more than once a day anyways.)
So, this next process is a hard one. It involves trying to lean on your family for help, which embarrass you. But, it must be done, unless you can spare 100,000/year. Here are the next steps of the at-home care. Be sure to let your family know what is coming.
B. At home care
- The nursing home will send you home after 20 days, in a wheelchair, but you have to go to your daughter’s house because you live on the other side of town from your family.
- She’s a teacher, so she works 60 hours a week, at least, and she’s just too tired to clean your house, change you, cook for you, and feed you before she goes home to her house and her kids. So, she begins to show signs of fatigue. At this point, she’s too tired to ask for help, but she manages to talk to friend who works in the administration of a nursing home.
- She asks you to sell everything that you have of value to pay for care.
C. Transitioning to a new life
Now, if you’ve managed to get this far, there may be a pandemic. Your new life will be done in isolation from your family. This is adjustment to living a different kind of life, one where you don’t have the freedom to leave the building. Do everything that you can to stay busy and make friends. And, most of all, accept any help from your family you can get. Don’t be afraid to ask for things like playing cards and socks.
There must me another way. Is there a guide to end-of life things to do that I can start now? Can we all just pitch in to buy some land together and hire a nurse and a cook for when we get old? This is so depressing.