More About Elder Care, by Hollyberry

When I completed my first article about mom’s health emergency, she was progressing fine and on the road back to good health. Two days after submitting the article to SurvivalBlog, my mom crashed hard. One of her  neighbors texted me, and left a voicemail. We were out walking the dogs and when I saw the text and heard the message, my heart sank.

Mom went to the hospital with breathing issues and pain, by ambulance. I waited a bit and called the emergency room and was able to speak with the nurse who assured me mom was stable and now comfortable and tests were being performed. She also said mom told me not to come down to New Jersey. Mom was admitted with congestive heart failure and blood clots in both legs. Not good but the overall prognosis was encouraging. Lesson learned: Keep praying. I can’t let myself relax too much and think everything is going well. It may be going well today but believe me, tomorrow can be a totally different story.

Mom spent another eight days in the hospital and also developed pneumonia. Her foot was still swollen and sore from falls from the previous health incident. She was convinced by the social service department (a bunch of liberal lefties), that she needed to go to a “rehab facility.” Her doctors thought is was a fine idea also and said she would not need more than 7-10 days of rehab. My husband, mom’s other half, Bob, a neighbor who is a RN, and I all begged mom to not go to a rehab facility. We assured her that home care nursing and physical therapy could continue at home like she done, previously.

She was doing very well until the congestive heart failure set in. Her confidence was rocked hard. We tried to tell these rehab/nursing homes could be hell holes but she did not listen. My mother is very intelligent but unfortunately bases her decisions on her emotions, and not facts. This line of thinking is going to cause a great many issues in the near future. Social services gave her a list of places and assured her they were all top flight places. The brochures and websites show clean facilities with happy, smiling patients who all have their hair combed, are shaved and in clean clothing. But the reality is much different. Lesson learned: Keep praying. Sometimes facts and logic never enter the big picture. Big decisions based on feelings and not on data and facts are not good decisions!

Mom was transferred to the rehab facility at 11pm at night. They woke her up, put her in a panel truck with no one riding in the back with her, and put her in a bed at the rehab facility. The people who dropped her off did not say one word to her. She prayed she was in the correct facility the hospital said she was going to. Finally, after several hours a nurse came and showed her where the call button was. I spoke to mom later the following morning. She was exhausted but already had some physical therapy. The nurses and facility doctor already started laying the groundwork to keep her longer. They said she should expect to be there at least 4-6 weeks. (This, after less than 24 hours of being there.) A majority of the staff did not even speak English. Communication was coming to a standstill as a result of this.

I have had other family members and close friends with relatives in these supposedly rehab facilities and the experiences are all the same. You have to watch them like a hawk. The rehab/nursing home facilities are only interested in making money. There may be few decent ones there but they are few and far between and I suspect only really rich people can afford to go to them. These facilities have biweekly meetings with the patient, family members, social workers, and therapists and try to convince the patient and family that just a few more weeks is needed and don’t you really want your loved one to get well? What that means is your loved one has good insurance and they will be happy to use up their insurance benefits.

It is virtually impossible to leave one of these facilities before they agree you are fit to go home. A close friend of mine recounted her experience: She was in a rehab place, following an injury. The neglect was unbelievable. My friend was on her own with no surviving family members. Week after week they said she needed more physical therapy. She finally was going to sign herself out. The doctor said she was a danger to herself and they refused to let her sign out. I have known this person for decades. She is of sound mind and was feeling and doing well. They kept telling her that her insurance was allowing her to stay longer and to just go with it. Finally, she called the police and they escorted her out of the hellhole. This has been referred to as medical kidnapping. These places prey on older people. It is criminal what they get away with.

My mom is a very sweet and trusting person who believed this facility had her best interests in mind and wanted to help her. She learned a hard lesson here. Lesson learned: Pray more. Many medical facilities, especially post covid, are understaffed and lacking supplies and only care about cutting costs and saving money. I have been in healthcare management for four decades and know this to be true. Do whatever you can to stay healthy. Covid has become the excuse for a reset in our standard of living and our healthcare system.

I talked to my mom several times a day, doing my best to be an advocate from 550 miles away. Bob was my eyes on the ground and was visiting regularly. One particular night it was very warm and my mom was having difficulty breathing. She went to put on the oxygen they left for her and it was not hooked up properly. She rang for the nurse and it took over an hour before anyone showed up. They also don’t want to deal with anyone going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Everyone gets disposable underwear and no one shows up to get you to the bathroom. As of this writing, mom has been there for two weeks and her meals are still not what her physician wants her to be eating. She had also not had a shower once since she had been admitted.

Her roommate was coughing constantly, so badly that I could always hear it over the phone when I talked with my mom. Her roommate also complained of having constant diarrhea. Mom was also visited by a gentleman who constantly wandered around all night. She was not thrilled to wake up and find him standing at the foot of her bed. Lesson learned: These places bear no similarity to the pictures on their website. Night shift generally means virtually no staff and may God help you if you have a serious issue during this time. It is a horrible place for anyone to be.

I was notified by mom of the time for meeting with physical therapist, the director (this is a fancy title the head nurse uses) and social services. I was listening via phone and Bob was there with mom. He had some questions for the physical therapist, which they answered. Mom started asking why it took eight days to get an ice pack for her foot and the director started yelling at her. I jumped in and said, “Excuse me, is there a problem because I seem to be picking up some attitude here?” Miss director/dictator assured me she had no problems with mom. I then told her to dial down the attitude and start treating mom with some respect. I reminded her she may have a fancy title but she is an employee who is now working for my mom, since my mom’s insurance is paying her salary. Mom said she wanted out by the following week and I stated I wanted her out by Wednesday. Everyone agreed and would get working on it immediately (all of a sudden). Social Services was also ordering her a wheelchair. Lesson learned: Pray harder. How can someone work in a place like this day after day and allow these atrocities to occur?

Everything seemed to be going well until Sunday morning. I called mom after church and she was crying on the phone saying she was very ill and, “didn’t they call you about it?” Long story short was that she now had contracted “c diff” — an infectious diarrhea with cramps and highly contagious. They also told her you now can’t leave for at least two more weeks. The now-gone sick roommate probably had it. Mom was so miserable she wanted to go back to the hospital. I called the nursing station and was told by some miserable human being that passed for a healthcare worker that she doesn’t take orders from me and mom was fine. Between Bob and myself we got mom calmed down with multiple phone calls. I called around and checked and c diff can be handled by home care. I called social services and informed them that this illness is unfortunate but not something that requires her to stay another two weeks as home care can handle it and that I expected discharge on Wednesday as discussed. Lesson learned: Pray more. These so-called medical professionals will stop at nothing to keep you from leaving. Breaking out of prison has to be easier than getting out of these rehab/nursing home facilities.

On Monday afternoon, I received a phone call from a medical supply company about the wheelchair order. Here we go again with more nonsense! Medicare only covers X amount of the cost and they needed the additional 20% not covered. No problem, how much is it? Well, they can only collect in monthly payments for 13 months of approximately $4.50, $3.90 of which is interest. Are you kidding me, is everyone on the take? What is happening to the medical care in this country? Lesson learned: Pray, pray, keep praying and expect anything at this point.

The wheelchair made it the rehab center in time for discharge on Wednesday! Mom had another visit on her last night from the horny, senile old man. When she rang for the nurse and yelled at the guy to get out of her room, the night nurse came back with sleeping pills for mom, telling her she now needs them. Mom told her take the pills right back where they came from. She never took sleeping pills before so why would you start giving someone sleeping pills when they are being discharged in a day? If she was zonked out on the sleeping pills, the horny old man might have sexually assaulted her. A physical therapist also told mom that she is the ideal patient. She has great insurance and does not require much care and good luck getting out of here. It was just what she needed to hear as mom thought I was nuts by constantly telling her the scam these places pull to keep you there. Lesson learned: Pray again! Never let your guard down in these places.

My mom was finally discharged. The rehab center pulled some final stunt by telling her she couldn’t leave without a covid test! You can’t make this stuff up. It has been a rough couple of months for mom, medical wise and Bob and I now have more gray hair thanks to worrying. Mom was so thankful to be home and finally take a shower. The rehab place seems to think wiping your back with a washcloth every day is sufficient hygiene.

Dear readers, my wish is that you or your loved ones never have to go to a rehab/nursing home facility, but I realize this is not a realistic wish. We get old, ill, injured, and just wear down and sometimes there are no other alternatives. If you or a loved one has to be placed in a care facility, even for a short period of time, do some research and check with your state boards and local boards of health for violations. Check reviews. If time permits, do a spontaneous visit and see how clean the place and people really are. Mom did encounter a few decent people that actually enjoyed their jobs but most of the people are just going thru the motions and the patient is a wallet.

Please do everything possible to stay healthy and hug your family often, especially your mom!