We kids had been interested spectators up to this point. Now, new things had to happen and, frankly, Mom & Pop were confused and quite distressed by it all. A new kind of accommodations would have to be found. But what kind? Where? The house had to be sold and thirty three years of accumulated stuff needed disposing. Who wants what? How will we get it there? Who will take care of all this?
You guessed it: me.
As it happens, I am the most available of the three kids. Additionally, I have a good head for organization and the ability to get things done. I got the job.
So this page is about me, more or less. The change agent, the trusted adviser, and the outlet for parental frustration all in one.
I had a lot to learn. I found agencies of government and private organizations who dealt with and advocated for the elderly. The first questions were, “Given their conditions, where should my parents live? What does it cost? Who else should I be talking with?
Many new terms would enter my lexicon; among them: Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) – this is a place that offers service and housing packages that allow access to independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care, and “memory care,” a nice way of saying “Alzheimer’s Care”. A CCRC is usually a big place, but the component parts can be found standing alone and in various combinations. Which of these offerings were my parents qualified for? It turns out they could both be comfortable and properly cared-for in an Assisted Living environment where the structure is more social and the supervision and nursing care was always handy. It was quite expensive, though. How could we afford it?
Several of the experts I interviewed said I should get an eldercare attorney. This turned out to be the most valuable advice of all. Our attorney set up a financial and legal structure that would sustain my parents for their remaining days. On staff at our law office is an expert in Medicaid and I had to learn about that; no simple task, and I still know only a fraction. Fortunately, there is also the county case worker who helped me weave through the Medicaid maze and has saved my scalp on several occasions.
I toured at least a dozen Assisted Living facilities with available beds (in this business, residency is measured by the bed). Some were really nice and some were really awful. Oddly, the pricing didn’t vary too much between them. I settled on a few finalists and brought the folks to see them. One was to their liking. While it wasn’t “home,” it would do. We moved them in along with a few pieces of their own furniture, clothing and assorted personal treasures.
The house? With the help of a terrific real estate agent, it was sold quickly. This was among the more satisfying aspects of the process.
Then I found someone who dealt with home contents, and that project was completed in a couple of weeks. This was by far the most disappointing part of the whole process. My parents’ expensive furniture and cherished possessions were disposed of by the liquidator who returned a pittance to us. Mom was crushed.