Step 4 of my journey

I’m writing this June 7, 2015

Look at Health Care Services to Remain Independent in My Home

Well, I’m to the point where I need to look at health care services to remain independent in my home. After all these years, I still think of you and how much you did to make (and keep) our house a true HOME. I think of all the days I   took for granted that you would be my kind provider, my teammate and confidante, my friend and overall knight in shining armor whenever work needed to be done.

I’ve never quite bounced back from my broken hip, and over the winter, the pain began to shift towards my knees as I compensated for lack of hip motion—even with ongoing physical therapy at Summit Orthopedics. I’ve also be diagnosed with "wet" macular degeneration, so my field of vision has begun to narrow and blur—even straight lines look bent at times. It’s gotten to the point where I no longer enjoy reading for more than a few minutes. I also have to magnify the computer screen just to read the news online! Whoever coined the phrase “the golden years” must have had a lot of help around the house.

The kids and I have been talking a lot lately. It’s time for me to face reality, and acknowledge that I can’t always pick up the phone and expect one of the four of them to help so much. It’s true—they all have their own families and lives now, and loyalty to Mom only goes so far. Next week, we’re going up to the cabin, and they tell me it’s got everything I need for safety these days. 

Last fall, they had grab bars installed, along with a ramp to bypass the three front stairs. They also had a long curved cement walkway built, so I can get into the lower level by going outside. It also leads out to the patio and beach. Sadly, my balance isn’t good enough to walk in the sand without help anymore.

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We’ve agreed to look into home health care services, so I’m sure that will be a part of the lake vacation grand discussion!  And of course, you know John, our Mr. Detail-forever-researching-info child, he’s basing everything on info from Mayo Clinics and Johns Hopkins Hospital and their health library, because he trusts them more than Web MD and similar sites, even though they all provide good information!

Over the next few weeks, we will be interviewing different companies to see who offers flexible, hourly care. There are tasks around here that quite frankly, neither of the boys can do, and that Cathy and Barb don’t have time to do with little ones running around. 

For instance, my kitchen cupboards need organizing so I can better cope with my ever-increasing vision loss. Also, I can’t read expiration dates on products like milk, meat and bread any longer. I bought a labeler with a large font. I just need someone to put an expiration date sticker on those kinds of items. By the way, there’s a local organization, Vision Loss Resources, and their staff is great about offering up tips to make my life a little easier.

Also, Mike was on Facebook the other day, and an ad popped up—likely because he has been doing research on my eye problems, and he discovered a wonderful free phone app to help as well. It’s called Be My Eyes, and it connects blind and low vision people with sighted volunteers and company reps for visual assistance through live video calls. You never need to worry about disturbing someone, because anyone who answers genuinely wants to be of help. I cried the first time I did it last week!

I also need to figure out how to voice dial most numbers, and how to mark things like the stove to set the right temperature. It may sound silly, but with the partial vision loss, I’m going to have Cathy use some puffy paint on the arches of my shoes and tags in my pants—it’s getting hard to distinguish navy blue from black. It seems like whether it’s a home or personal adjustment or modification, the lists never end.

I’m writing this July 2, 2015

Well, after interviewing several independent registered Personal Care Attendants (PCA), along with several companies, we’ve decided to go with a Visiting Angels franchise out of Shoreview, MN. They were able to assure us that I will have a primary PCA assigned, and that if I want to have her run an errand for me, or take me to a doctor’s appointment or the store, that it can be included in a service package.

Rest assured that Cathy and Barb helped me to interview everyone thoroughly, and ensure that things will go well in my home. Here are just some of the questions we asked each candidate:

  • Who will be coming into my home?
  • How will they be identifiable? Badge? Company vehicle? Call on the phone showing their photo prior to arrival? Other?
  •    Will I have specific days/times assigned for arrival?
  •  What do I do and who do I contact if they don’t arrive as promised?
  •  Do you do a criminal background check on your employees? How do I know I am safe around them?
  • Who do I pay—your business or the worker? 
  • Can I tip your worker if s/he does extra projects for me?
  • What if I like the worker, but I become dissatisfied with the company over time? Can I hire that person directly, or do you have a non-compete clause for a period of time?
  • And of course, everything about employee training, business licensing, insurance, etc.

It also helped that we had done online research, and had a standard list of questions we asked each potential provider. John brought over printout of all his research, and we found some of the best questions to ask, as well as a lot of aging in place info came from these websites: 

Anyway, I’m sure that many of the providers thought we were being a pain, but the kids and I really want to make sure it’s a good fit, and that my new “personal assistant” will be happy working in my home. More than anything, I don’t want to be a burden to the kids or to the person who’s helping me! 

Again George, I need to credit you, because some of my friends see paying for help around the house as a luxury. So far, with your pension, SSI, and investments, I haven’t really had to worry about much other than logistics of getting things done. 

 Image courtesy of moneycrashers.com

Image courtesy of moneycrashers.com

We talked a bit about finding a better way to manage my assets—just in case life takes yet another turn for the worse. The kids are meeting with Brett at Parallel Realty sometime in the next few weeks. We need to craft a plan for putting the lake cabin in their names to protect your investment, in the event that I would need to go into something spendy like assisted living at some point. Parallel’s services have been such a godsend these past few years. Literally, every repair I’ve needed done, every piece of furniture I’ve asked to have moved, and even the accessibility remodel were done to perfection. They’re going to be in on the discussion of transferring some of the assets into a trust. I didn’t even understand the nuances or implications until I read up on it on the Wealth Council site. The more I deal with the folks at Parallel, the more I realize they offer a comprehensive array of services. I’ve grown to trust their advice too, and thankfully, so have the kids.

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AuthorBrett Foss