Senior Family Members and Emergencies

Laurie LongBlog

    For over 14 years I have been addressing emergencies, personal loss and natural disasters.  Yet, one of the areas of life that we will all face is that of getting old!    Many of us in our ’40’s, 50’s,
    How prepared are we?  Do we have the right kind of insurance for ourselves, and do and 60’s are facing the responsibility of caring for our aging parents and we should also be preparing for our own future as seniors.
our parents have what they need or can they even afford what they need?

    One night I received one of those late-night calls that we all dread.  It was my sister.   She said two words…”Mom fell”.   Actually, Mom tripped over the new rocker that I delivered for her patio that day and fell on the concrete and broke two teeth and received a minor concussion.   Thank God she was able to get up and call my sister.  Over the next two days we spent time in the hospital emergency room and oral surgeon’s office repairing a broken tooth that she experience from the fall. 

    Mom had to move into my sister’s home for several days as she recovered from the concussion and oral surgery.  She had her Get Away Bag packed and we were able quickly locate it along with all of her medical information in her My Life in a Box file.

    Two months later, almost overnight, she lost her ability to walk and my sister and I took her to the emergency room.  By 8:00pm she was having brain surgery to remove a sub-dermal hematoma.  Mom’s fall in March caused several small blood leaks around her brain and over the 6 weeks that we presumed she was doing well, a pool of blood formed and put pressure on the frontal lobe.   

    Mom survived the surgery, went into a rehabilitation hospital for two weeks and then returned to her home with in-home care.  One month later, after totally recovering, her legs gave out again and she was back in the hospital for a second brain surgery.  The leaking had reoccurred. 

    By the time Mom completed her stay in the hospital for the second time, my sister and I felt the need to call the various medical services to get an idea of what bills we were facing.  She had two brain surgeries, a combined 8 days in ICU, 10 days in the hospital, and 30 days in a rehab facility.  We also had to contact the anesthesiologist and surgeon’s office regarding their services. 

    We knew that Mom had medical insurance and a special Medicare supplement, but we had no idea what the final cost would be on all of her care to this point.  Thankfully because she made the proper decision years ago in her insurance choices, we had very little out-of-pocket expenses. 

    We also knew from previous experience that she had long-term health care insurance and were trusting that she would qualify.  Once she was in the rehab hospital for the second time, we began to research options for assisted living facilities, as well as care in her home.  We were not aware that her time in the rehab hospital did not count in her long-term health care requirements.  

    After weeks of talking to her insurance agent and finally people in the claims department, we were told that Mom needed to be in a convalescent hospital for 15 days before her policy allowed her to have ANY care, whether assisted living or in-home care.  The 30 total days in the rehab hospital did not count.  By the time we received that information, she was already released and staying at my home, with no long-term health care benefits.  At 84 years old, Mom stayed in her home with a part-time care-giver   for several months, and then full 24/7 care for several years. 

    Preparing for the future is not something that we want to do but it is a necessary part of life.  We think nothing about purchasing health insurance, home owners insurance or going to the dentist. Those are preventative steps we take without thinking about them.  However we also need to make plans for the future if the time comes that we cannot take care of ourselves or our loved ones.   

    I encourage you to take time and look into what type of medical coverage you and your family members currently have.  Also check into long-term health care insurance, but make sure that you understand the details clearly.  Spend some time to find out exactly how much residential care costs, in relationship to in-home care.  Then, make sure that everyone talks about it.  You will save yourself a lot of grief if you talk about it and research your options before they are needed!

    And for goodness sake…make sure that everyone has their Get Away Bag packed and ready to go!
Laurie LongSenior Family Members and Emergencies