Moving an Aging Parent from Long-Distance Part XVI


by Joy Loverde

Up until the time Bill got sick, everything was going perfectly regarding the move. The house had sold quickly. Mom and Bill already had a place to live in Chicago. Mom was happily shopping for new furnishings. I had already packed up their belongings in Florida and shipped them to their new apartment.

Medical emergencies never come at a convenient time. And that is certainly the case when it happens right in the middle of a long-distance relocation. Issues about power of attorney, paying for care, and healthcare decisions are added to the mix of an already incredibly stressful relocation situation. And for us long-distance caregivers who can do nothing more at times than to watch parents face one problem after another leaves us feeling more helpless (and angry) than ever.  So I’m going to blow off a little steam here because my anger level is at an all-time high right now.

What difference does warm weather make when you’re sick and need help? For the past five years my family has encouraged (begged) Mom and Bill to move closer to family, and their refusal to leave Florida as healthy individuals in control of their decisions for (oh-it’s-too-cold) Chicago is forcing them to face their deep denial of ever needing help from family. The need for help is predictable. What were they thinking?

Now, instead of them having the much needed help that is required right now from any one of us, my 83 year old mother is operating on three hours sleep, driving back and forth to the hospital to assist a husband who is sick as a dog, is alone and scared, and bombarded with critical healthcare decisions asked of her from the hospital medical staff. And it has not been twenty four hours since she landed at the Florida airport.

The phone calls from Mom and my siblings are coming fast and furiously. Early on Mom calls me crying and frantic. It’s 10 am and she says that Bill is being discharged from the hospital at noon. She is told that he cannot stay or the hospital will face Medicare fraud charges. Apparently, Bill’s “non-emergency” medical condition coupled with the fact that he arrived under a “voluntary evaluation” clause means Bill’s trip to the hospital emergency room is not covered by Medicare. He must leave now.

What???? I speak with the discharge planner and she confirms this information. I understand the limits of Medicare all too well and know that I have to think and act quickly to get Bill a place to recover. He can’t go back home. Mom can’t take care of him – he’s confused (and incontinent), among other dependent-care issues.

Dear reader of this blog, are you aware of what Medicare does and does not pay for and under what conditions? Bluntly, buy my book now... you have no idea what you are up for in a medical eldercare situation.  The Complete Eldercare Planner (2009, Random House, Updated and Revised).

In a long-distance move, you will most likely be putting out emergency fires all along the way and this is no time to multi-task. Solve one problem and move on to the next.