Saturday, January 26, 2008

In-Home Aides Part 5: My Experiences

Previous Posts
Part 1: Do You Have Insurance?
Part 2: Finding An Agency
Part 3: What Pricing Can You Expect?
Part 4: What Do They Do?

So here's a quick recap before I delve into this final post of the In-Home Aides series.

Mom had the forethought to purchase a long-term care policy many years ago. She made this decision after her father was placed in a nursing home with Alzheimer's and recognized that 1 in 3 of us will wind up in one, too.

Last summer, my brother and I decided to activate the policy so I could get some help. It covers nursing home care, and also a reduced reimbursement amount for in-home care. After filling out the paperwork and having evaluations, the claim was started and I hired a local agency for the care.

As I have learned, this is a bit of luck. These are low paying jobs and, by extension, the folks who do them are low wage workers. I don't mean to cast any dispersions, because honestly I don't know how they do it for what they are paid, but you get the idea of who you will be dealing with...if we pay $20/hr to the agency, how much goes to the actual person?

Now, on to my experiences:

The policy that my mom purchased had a 30 days of care deductible. We would be responsible for this out of pocket. Since it didn't matter how many hours a day we had help, I scheduled for the minimum of 2 hours a day for those first 30 day. That meant we'd fulfill the deductible for the least amount of money.

Aide #1
The first gal that came was nice enough although a bit unsure of herself. She didn't make eye contact on our first meeting and was a bit introverted. She was very nice, although young (early 20's), and I felt had a bit of trouble relating to my mom.

It took a while for my mom to get used to someone coming here and the slow ramp up that I initiated for financial purposes also worked well in this regard. I answered, "Who's that woman who comes here?" and "Why is she coming here?" hundreds of times. We worked on mom learning her name, too, as answering the questions gave me the chance to say it hundreds of times.

This lady was also pretty heavy. Mother dear would always comment on what a "big girl" she was, and I was afraid she would blurt out something of the sort when she was here. I would always respond that I thought she was really nice to see if I could redirect her thinking...but that never worked.

Let me also say that this is an easy gig. All you have to do is sit and watch television with my mom, get her a bowl of ice cream in the middle of the afternoon, wash some dishes in the sink, and call emergency if there's a problem. If you can convince mom to take a shower, and then assist her, that's a bonus. For the most part, I am here, just in the back room working on the computer.

She came three days a week for two months and then disappeared. She quit, and never even called the agency to let them know. We weren't her only clients, so others were left without coverage.

As it would happen, this was a blessing in disguise.

Aide #2
The replacement aide was someone we've known for 40 years. A niece of a neighbor, she is in her early 60's and used to belong to a couple of community organizations that mom did decades ago. She is a family friend with common interests and an age closer to my mom. They can talk about old times and friends, people and things my mom still remembers since her long term memory is a lot better than her short term which is non-existent. She also has the experience of taking care of her own elderly parents.

The new lady is a chatter box and that keeps mom entertained. They like each other, and she's convinced mom that Wednesday's are shower days. A trick she is using is to say they are going to "wash mom's hair." Even though they do the same thing, it works since mom associates fear with the word "shower." (You learn little tricks like this as you go along.)

The shower chair and wand that we had installed and subsequently removed because they confused my mom when she'd be in there alone now are back in place and work wonderfully for her and the aide.

Pure luck of the draw, but I think all the good karma I've built up over the past 3 years may be coming back to me!

Starting next week, we are going to a greatly expanded schedule of 12-5 Monday thru Friday. I'm happy and relieved about that!


A Single Man said...

I'm glad that you'll get some relief and I'm glad that you got out for a bit of travel to lovely FL.

Your exps match mine pretty well.

Happily we are well insured to care for H, but he continues to maintain that he doesn't need any help and just resists it totally.


You're right about not pissing off your family (kids) as they are the only ones who might even care enough to do something to help.

Gavin said...

I honestly don't know how you do it. I have a hard enough time doing what I do and carrying on some part time consulting work.

The trip to Florida wasn't what I had anticipated. I will write about it in a future post but wanted to get the "In Home Aides" series completed first.

When I came back from Florida, I had hit the wall, and was seriously considering a nursing home for the first time. I felt bad, because I don't think Mom is ready for one...but she'd end up there because I'm ready!

You may want to hire an aide, or maybe Meals on Wheels, or a maid and tell H it isn't for him but for you! At this point, it's probably the truth!

Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

I marvel at all of YOU folks. And yes the home health route is filled with mine fields and yes these people need to be paid much better.The work they do ought to be a source of pride if not a career path in that Agencies ought offer education benefits etc. Its always been my feeling that both at home and in Nursing Homes the pts could LIVE so well without me (a former social worker) BUT THEIR LITERALLY DEPENDED ON THE NURSES AND THE NURSES aides. Lets hope that in the future these jobs can attract not only the "salt of the earth" like your current find Y|0|Y but youngsters who can attend to their charges with pride , hope, and a great sense of professionalism.

Our health care system is upside down.