My Long-Term Care Story: Part 2
It’s been 19 months since my last post about the long-term care journey with my mother. There really wasn’t too much more to say. After my father’s passing six days after they moved into Brookdale Senior Living, my mother settled into her new life at the assisted living facility. It was a difficult journey for her at times, getting used to people coming into her apartment to help her shower and dress every day. Establishing a new routine for lunches and dinners in a dining room seemed like grade school again. This was made easier by the incredibly nice ladies who reached out to her after my father’s passing, assuring her that there was a place for her at their table each meal.
It took a few months, but the routine was set: Be Fit exercise class each morning, followed by a walk around the building (or walking the halls if the weather was bad), then lunch at 11am, then Bible study at 1pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I settled into a routine too, bring her to my home Sundays and Mondays. Thursdays I would visit her there at Brookdale, and stay for lunch. Saturdays we would take her out to eat at a restaurant. This was to be our routine, our very comfortable routine for most of the last 19 months. Then, COVID-19 happened.
When our state shut down, I followed the guidelines and didn’t visit her at all, or bring her to my home. For 30 days, I only saw my mother on a video-call, or from her back porch as I dropped off groceries or supplies. (Her apartment was on the ground floor with a separate exterior entrance.) However, I must share the difficulties I experienced with the staff at Brookdale during this time. As my mother’s Durable Medical Power of Attorney, and as a member of her caregiving team, I handled all of her medications, which included a weekly B12 injection. The facility refused to allow me to administer the injection, choosing to interpret our governor’s guidelines as disallowing me as a medical advocate and caregiver. It was all fine, as they took over the weekly injections with no cost. But I knew, and they knew, that they would not touch her medications. Thus began the challenge all facilities had (and still have) during these challenging times. Every five weeks I would refill her medi-sets, entering her apartment from the separate entrance, thus technically obeying the “no visitor” rule. And the facility never questioned me again about the medications.
Once the stay-home order was lifted, I resumed my weekly visits with my mother, to check her medications and overall health. I’m glad I did so because she developed a bladder infection during this time which was missed by the facility caregivers. I don’t blame them at all. They are short-staffed with lots of residents stuck indoors getting weaker and weaker during the new COVID rules imposed by the corporate office. Because of the separate private entrance into my mother’s apartment, I was able to help her get diagnosed and treated the same day. Unfortunately, she reacted to the medication and fell that evening resulting in a 3-day hospital stay. Nothing was broken, but it did take her several weeks to recover.
During this time, I began to bring her to my home for three days per week. We would inform the facility that she was leaving, and everything was fine or as fine as things could be for her. The dining room was shut down. There were no activities allowed in the facility. No visitors were allowed in the facility. My mother was unable to walk the halls. Don’t get me wrong, I clearly understood why the facility needed to make these decisions, but it was extremely hard for my mother and for all residents. She missed seeing her friends even though there was nothing stopping her from walking around the building to her friend’s porch and chatting with her there. To my knowledge, she only did it once. As the summer progressed, it was clear that COVID wasn’t going anywhere and that this truly was the new normal for my mother – and for me. Bringing her to my home three days per week, and driving her back, certainly changed things for us. But it was a pleasure to do it for her, as opposed to simply letting her be alone all that time.
This is my long-term care story about my mother through August 2020. COVID-19 changed everything. And my mother’s long-term care insurance policy helped make what happened in August 2020 an easy decision.
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