Mom and Me: A True Story

I was on my way to my first appointment of the day in Virginia Beach.  The HRBT was clear and I was making good time.  It takes me about 40 minutes on a good day to get to the Princess Anne area of Virginia Beach.

My cell phone rang.  Mom has fallen again.  This makes the third time in six weeks we’ve had to phone emergency to go by and check on her.  I cancelled my appointment and prayed all the way to Newport News.  Mom was fine but it was obvious that she could not continue to live alone.

What were we to do?  I am single and can’t stay home to care for her.  Her only other child is a son in San Diego. This gives new meaning to the saying “If it’s to be it’s up to me." What are our options and where will we get the money to pay for her care? Mom had made no provisions for her care and had no resources.  This was the beginning of a long and painful journey through the stages of elder health care.

I found her a place in an assisted living facility but when she ran out of funds and went on Medicaid, I was told I had 6 weeks to find her another place. Our journey ended with Mom in a nursing home over 3 years.

It is hard to describe the stress and heart ache that goes with caring for an elderly parent. Instead of enjoying my last days with my mother they were spent worrying about money and her care.  I watched her health decline and realized that we had no other options. I knew that my first responsibility to my mother was that she receive quality care.

The guilt that I felt about leaving her in a nursing home can’t be described. This is the first time that I have tried to put my feelings in writing. Every time I visited her I came out emotionally drained and exhausted.

This is my first article for the Oyster Pointer and you may be asking yourself why I am telling you such a personal story.

If I can make you stop what you are doing and plan for your future it is worth it.

Do you want your children to have the painful memories I have about my mother?  I am still haunted by them. This situation has affected the last 12 years of my life. I will never make up for the time and loss of income.  Mom died 2 years ago and I would give anything to see her again when she was healthy.

You may never need long term care but the odds are good that you will.  According to the U.S. Health & Human Services about 70% of people over the age of 65 will need some type of long term care services in their life time.  Many will be fortunate enough to receive care at home but more than 40% over age 65 will go to a nursing home and 10% will stay 5 years or longer.

The American population is growing older and the group over age 85 is the fastest growing segment.  Statistics show that at any given time 22% of those 85 and over are in a nursing home.  Because women usually outlive men we face a 50% greater likelihood than men of entering a nursing home.

Older people use the most long term care services however a young or middle aged person who has been in an accident or suffered a debilitating illness might need it.  The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that 40% of the 13 million people receiving long term care are between the ages of 18 and 64.

It is never too early to plan.  The need for long term care will completely empty your retirement fund.

The average cost for long term care in Virginia is $19.00 per hour for home health aides, $61.00 per day for Adult Day Care, $3,269.00 per month for assisted living and $225.00 per day for nursing home ($6,750 a month or $81,000 per year).

Insurance companies have created new options to pay for long term care. A solution will be based on your personal needs and situation.

It is a conversation you should have with an advisor before it is too late. If you don’t plan for your future someone else will have to.  You may not like their plan.

Please don’t delay!

Deborah Wells, Benefit Specialist

Phone:  757-848-5872

Cell:  757-870-7221