Failure to Foresee the Financial Devastation of an Illness or Injury
My parents were not wealthy by any means. They had small pensions, some savings and had been relatively financially comfortable. I had put them into a reverse mortgage 15 years earlier, so they had that cash available, and had been able to keep the house up without a mortgage payment
My mother’s accident nearly bankrupted them! Even more sadly, if Mom had not passed away when she did, nursing home and medical expenses would have completely depleted their financial resources.
For example, my parents paid over $30,000 in cash to cover their share of Mother’s uninsured medical bills and care requirements stemming from the broken hip and hospital stay. This was nearly half of everything they had in their savings.
This was only the start of their financial devastation. My folks lived in a small community. There are not many in-home caregivers available as resources. Once Dad reached the point where he could not care for Mom, he had to spend $1,000s in cash for unreliable, indifferent, low-skilled people to watch Mom. He also had the stress of searching for, interviewing, screening, hiring and firing these people. Not fun!
Please, don’t get me wrong. I am not about to fault the in-home caregivers out there. Many are angels! But, like anything else, there are good ones, and there are bad ones. And the really good ones are virtually impossible to find. My parents were in a small town, and that further narrowed their options.
When Mother finally went into the nursing home, we thought Medicaid would cover the expense. WRONG! They had failed to plan properly. They learned that Dad had to deplete practically ALL of their savings. Basically, he had to be broke before Medicaid would pick up Mother’s nursing home expenses! This also meant Mother could only stay in a nursing home that accepted Medicare/Medicaid—not many did, and those that did were not very high-quality.
My mom’s care depleted my parents’ savings at a rate of between $5,000 and $10,000 every single month.
No one in my family knew what might have prevented the fall in the first place. No one had a clue how to help my dad keep Mom at home, even after the fall. Nor did we know how to help them bathe safely and with dignity, so they could live together in their own home indefinitely. More importantly, not one person in the healthcare community offered any meaningful guidance — before, during or after my mother’s injury. Not one doctor, not one physical therapist, nurse, social worker or in-home caregiver ever mentioned any solutions that we didn’t know about. We simply had no idea what was possible.
Don’t get me wrong, as with in-home caregivers, there are many well-intentioned, professional caregivers out there who would have helped, had we found them. I am saying that for my parents, in rural Arkansas, no one appeared to help them in a way that would have kept Mom at home.
In hindsight, I knew, instinctively, there had to be far superior safety products to the ones we did install for Mom. There had to be other technologies and resources that could have prevented the fall, or at least kept my mother living safely at home, without putting unreasonable physical, mental and financial stress on my father.
Over the last three years, I have avidly sought to help others avoid the tragedy that my family has endured. I felt as though I failed my parents, and I had to learn how to help educate my aging father (now 90 years old), to make his home safer and avoid potential falls.
I say I had to do this not only because I felt obligated as a son, but also because my dad, like Mom, was adamant that he intended to stay in our family home for the rest of his life. How could I ignore his fervent declaration that he would NEVER go into a nursing home? Especially when he had just watched my mom’s experience there?
Making my dad’s wish come true proved difficult. I needed to learn about products and technologies to make him safe at home. I needed to learn how to create safe and healthy forms of exercise and therapy to enhance Dad’s mobility and flexibility.
In pursuing my passion to help Dad, I traveled all over the US, and to Asia, Europe and Canada. I invested thousands of dollars and over 3,500 hours of my personal time researching ALL the products and technologies available.
I actually worked for nearly a year with one of the largest, most highly advertised distributors of walk-in bathtubs in North America. I sat in living rooms and interviewed hundreds of seniors, their healthcare providers, and family members in order to determine what issues they faced, and how to best resolve their mobility, health and bathing-related safety issues.
After nearly ten years of extensive research and study, I believe it is fair to say that I am now one of the most experienced legal, safety, health and “aging in place” consultants working with the elderly and their families in the United States. I am not saying I know everything there is to know. To the contrary…I am saying that I know enough to ask the hard questions that need to be answered to achieve the goal of living independently at home for as long as possible.