But for a day with stories to tell. Such a day was this. If there is a common theme, it is frustration laced with exasperation peppered with…..perhaps I’m taking this too far.
The hair stylist contacted Mom to say that her standing appointment for tomorrow was canceled because there was no money in her account. Mom understood this to mean two things: one – she would never be permitted to have her hair done again at Piedmont Place; and two – that she was completely out of money of any kind. How, she thought, could I (Fred) have squandered all that money?
That was her concern and her tone when she called me. She explained her conclusions and asked me directly, “How much money do I have?” I saw red flags waving before my eyes, but answered with almost exactly the amounts in each of her accounts. She is not rich by any standard, but she is certainly not destitute, either. My answers did not seem to register in her head; she still felt that there was no money left. Knowing how ‘loose lips (including Mom’s) sink ships,’ I felt compelled to caution Mom to keep this information to herself. “It’s no one’s business how much money you have. Don’t tell anyone else.”
I’ve written previously about the bureaucratic challenges to settling estate affairs. A large check has been held by the County Clerk while awaiting any claims against my father’s estate. The check was released (mailed) to me last week along with instructions to bring it back to the Clerk’s office for some kind of further certification. This I did; I received an embossed document and was told to present the check and paperwork to any bank teller. They’d know exactly what to do with it, I was told.
You already know what’s coming. The bank teller didn’t have a clue. I took it to a bank officer. She didn’t have a clue. She called in the branch VP. She didn’t have a clue. To their credit, about fifteen minutes was spent trying to get a clue from their extensive computerized rulebooks. When it was finally determined that I could, indeed, deposit this check, things went like a breeze.
I then went to the post office for some stamps, to Radio Shack for some batteries, and to a government office for some information. At least these visits all went quickly.
Next, Piedmont Place. A ‘perfect storm’ of accounting circumstances bedevil me here. First: my father’s death in August. This required putting his account in order; not a small task, but I think it’s done now. Second: my mother’s change in income resulting from my father’s death. Mom’s income now as an individual is nearly as high as when Pop was alive. Thus, her income exceeds Medicaid’s income threshold thereby rendering her ineligible for Medicaid effective December first. Third: her ineligibility for Medicaid changes her Piedmont Place status to “Full-pay” or “Private-pay.” Unfortunately, Full-pay rates exceed her new income by a few hundred dollars a month. And fourth: in the midst of all this, Piedmont Place began using a new accounting system. Anyone who’s ever experienced the wholesale changing of a computer system knows what an incredible headache it is.
My good friend the Accounts Receivable person and I worked through the myriad issues for about ninety minutes before finally reaching resolution. This activity ended, of course, with me writing a check. How else could it end?
Then came a visit with the Social Worker. Mom and I are, separately, semi-frequent darkeners of this very nice lady’s door. We soon became unsettled as we compared notes. There are increasing irregularities in Mom’s story-telling, perceptions and concerns. We tried to find a ‘goal’ from our discussion but could not; Mom’s condition at this moment in time puts her – and us – in a fence-sitting position. On one side is more serious treatment for dementia. Neither the Social Worker nor I think Mom is quite at that place yet. On the other side is her continued freedom with increased observation by the Social Worker and me. This latter strategy is full of holes, but is the only course available to us at the moment. We both re-asserted our membership in Mom’s “team” of caregivers and we’ll see where time and medical circumstances take us.
I could tell several stories derived from this thirty-minute conversation; one in particular regards the house psychologist. Mom spotted the house psych in the hallway several weeks ago. She told the psych, “I want to talk with you.” The psych said, “That will be fine; just go see the Social Worker and talk to her about arranging it.” Mom heard, “Go talk with the Social Worker.” This she did, for about half an hour. Nothing was said about a visit from the psych.
Last week, Mom told me that the psych visited her, spent about forty-five minutes chatting, and it was determined that Mom was perfectly okay. I said, “Oh, I didn’t know the psych would be seeing you.” “Really?” “No, and I had nothing to do with initiating the visit.”
The Social Worker and I then pieced the story together and came to this: Mom asked the psych for a consultation. The psych referred her to the SW to arrange it. Mom talked with the SW instead, forgetting the step of asking for the consult. End of story…except that Mom’s report to me replicated the psych’s original evaluation done a few weeks after Pop’s death. Such is the way of things in the world of dementia.
Piedmont Place invites residents and their families to a festive Holiday dinner each year. Lisa and I joined Mom this evening for a wonderfully-prepared meal of ham, turkey, stuffing, yams, green beans, rolls and an apple cobbler for dessert. Good times.