Friday, 25 March 2011
Alzeimer's – Our Final Chapter???
By William Weatherstone of The Diesel Gypsy
Since my wife entered a private retirement/nursing home, I have encountered a multitude of new requirements to enter a government assisted nursing home (for life).
In the beginning of this disease, we had to register for entry to an attached nursing home to a hospital which, of course, had a waiting list a mile long. That was my eye opener to the extent of this disease for which I had no idea, but learning fast.
I could not go ahead with any plans concerning Muriel’s necessities without having the power of attorney, which I investigated and acquired. Ready to proceed, I was shot down again dealing with government red tape.
I learned that the power of attorney comes in two parts. One is to take control of an individual’s property such as banking, disposing of properties, wills, etc. Now I find out that it does not include power of attorney over health and welfare.
So I cannot enlist her in a home without her consent. I have a doctor's report stating that she cannot make rational decisions on her own. Now I am spending more days of frustration trying to put the proper paperwork in order.
Living in northern Ontario, Canada, there are not all that many location choices to choose from. In this province, I was given three choices of preferred locations in our area. Our own town of Elliot Lake was the first choice. Blind River was my second choice, but is 60 km (36 miles) away.
After touring the third choice 160 km (100 miles) away, I strongly rejected that location. I approached the proper controller with this decision and was given permission to choose a location outside our territory. It is about 130 km (about 78 miles) in the opposite direction from here.
I toured the facility and approved it. That was over a year ago. Since then the rules were changed to allow five choices, but the extra two were too far away to consider because they are not attached to a hospital.
In any case if the location is out of town, I will uproot and dispose of everything and then follow her to wherever she has to relocate to.
In our particular region, if you cannot afford the horrendous cost of a nursing home, you may apply for what is known as a forced separation between married couples (financially). This is another tool that I had to learn about from scratch.
We only have the old age, government pensions coming in which was not enough to carry the cost of the private retirement/nursing home. To raise our income we were instructed to apply for the forced separation so as to raise our separate incomes to single status which gave us a considerable increase as two single individuals.
We barely scraped by getting her into the private home with our combined income, which consumes all of hers and a portion of mine. I also have to supply her accessories, such as diapers (Incontinence) and toiletries out of my portion as well as maintain our apartment and living expense. It’s called scraping the barrel.
It has been over a year now in the home, but we are slowly moving up in position for the hospital locations. The way it works is that as each of the selected locations has openings, your name rises up the list. Sometimes, if you are in worse condition than those above you, they will move you up past them in position.
If the third choice comes available first, you must accept the move. If you turn it down, you cannot reapply for six months and then you start at the bottom of the list again. This can take years.
Once you accept the first opening, you can still stay on the waiting list for your favoured location and then be moved there when the time comes.
I will accept the first offer and stay with it. I feel that the move will be traumatic enough for her and would not take her through that a second time. It was hard enough getting used to the first location.
The advantage of the government assisted home is that they are attached physically to a hospital and can service any emergency on the spot whereas her private location has to call an ambulance when required.
The final advantage is that they will take all of her pension which is still far below the actual charged residence fee, and supply everything for her well being. It is a shared room but you still get the same attention as a single private room.
It will save me hundreds of dollars each month for supplies and certain drugs. They will leave $100 dollars off the pension for hair dressers or TV cable or phone.
Wherever we end up I will be within walking distance of her. The cost of transportation will be zero.
I am still wary of problems regarding paperwork and procedures. It seems that the unexpected always pops up when least expected and you go crazy trying to keep up with the new surprises.
Now we are still playing the waiting game. In the beginning, I asked the question, how long does this disease take? Answer: It could be one year or 20 years. My response was, we don’t have 20 years.
So in the meantime we are waiting, waiting and still waiting.
NOTE: At the time of this writing, my wife’s nursing home is in lockdown because of a viral infestation. I cannot visit her daily until the virus is dissipated. The waiting, waiting and more waiting goes on.
[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]