My Long-Term Care Story: Part 5
No one said that caregiving was easy. Yet, after talking with hundreds of clients, most everyone assumes and expects to receive care in their home. And I absolutely agree that remaining at home is ideal; it’s ideal for the person needing care and for their family, to be able to see them every day. However, there is a price that is paid, and it’s the family that pays it.
Without my mother’s long-term care insurance policy, the next saga of my mother’s living with us would have been a nightmare. Her policy allowed me to increase her care even more without any thought to the cost. I knew the policy limit for home care, and I increased the private caregiver to the greatest number of hours the policy would allow. And I chose to provide care myself all the other hours, including weekends.
On December 28, 2020, my mother had a GI bleed during the night. Did she press her call button to alert me and Scott? No. She didn’t want to wake us up. Instead, she went back to sleep and continued to bleed until morning when an odd odor filled the house waking us all up. Yes, blood has an odor.
This is where the need for a POLST form comes into play. After her last transport to the hospital in September, we completed the POLST form with my mother choosing “no heroics”. It was to be full DO NOT RESUSCITATE under any circumstances. This form was with her at the ER following the GI bleed.
The bottom line here is that the ER staff always defaults to saving someone’s life, not making them comfortable. They disregarded my mother’s DNR on the POLST form and brought her blood pressure back when it fell. It just wasn’t her time yet. But this is important to note: discuss the POLST form, know what it says, and remember that an ER will always want to save someone’s life, not do nothing.
Hospice care is a special kind of care that focuses on the quality of life for people and their caregivers who are experiencing an advanced, life-limiting illness.
From January to April my mother never got her strength back from that GI bleed. The doctors all wanted her to have more tests to evaluate how to help her and all the while my mother clearly was withdrawing, almost depressed at times. By the end of April, I heard somewhere that hospice may be an option simply to have a different care plan. It was not giving up, nor even an expectation of impending death, but merely a change from saving or improving someone’s life to keeping them comfortable. My mother was all for it.
The morning after the doctor’s video visit establishing the order for hospice, my mother was beaming. She was thrilled to know that she wouldn’t ever have to go to the hospital again. Hospice came out for the evaluation, and she was approved. I’ll never know exactly what she was thinking initially, I just know the result.
My mother declined every single day once she was approved for hospice, and she passed away on May 20, 2021. Although it was fast, it also felt long and drawn out. It was awful to watch, yet such a blessing to be with her those final weeks.
The caregiver would arrive at 8 am and leave at 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. Until this time, I would always be the caregiver on the weekends, but now our wonderful CNA offered to be here on Saturdays to assist me. With her rapid decline to being bedridden, I was unprepared to handle the tasks.
Again, mom’s long-term care insurance paid the cost of care every day and I didn’t have to worry about money at all during this emotional time. Her caregiver played such an important role during this time, both as a support to my mother and to me and my family; I truly cannot fully express the depth of emotion and connection that happens during such a time. Hospice was amazing. The home health caregiver was amazing. And I am left with good memories of my mother’s final days with us.
I am passionate about long-term care insurance. I’ve lived it. I’ve seen it play out from the start of a claim to the end of the claim, and I’ve experienced the relief it brought to me and my family. Not worrying about the financial aspect of aging and dying has no dollar value.
So again, thank you, Dad, for buying long-term care insurance for mom.
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