springrobin Asked May 2011

My mom went to a nursing home and now I'm extremely sad. How can I cope?

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My mom had a fall about two months ago, and was hospitalized for a broken leg. After she was discharged, she went to rehab at a nursing facility. Even though the facility is nice, and the people are doing a good job, she hasn't done well enough with therapy to be able to continue. Because of this, she has had to stay in nursing care. Her mind has gone somewhat, and even though she doesn't have Alzheimers, she can't understand why she can't go home. She has a blank expression where a sparkly smile in her eyes used to be, and she has been crying and asking to come live with me. This is impossible because of my work, and my husband works long days as well. We have serious financial problems as well and we haven't the means to get in home care. I went through the process of getting Medicaid for my mom so we could keep her in the nursing home, but I received a letter yesterday saying we were going to have to pay an additional $745.00 per month that we don't have because of "increased income". I can't understand how this could be since all she has had are her Medicare check and a 56.00 retirement. I am at my wit's end between trying to be there for my mom, seeing my small business fail in this economy, wondering how I'm going to have the strength to fight Medicaid, and trying just to get over the fact that the mom I always knew is no longer here. I haven't felt any happiness in a long time, and I wonder if I ever will again. I wish I could talk to God and ask why we have to get old and fade from the person we always were in life to be a shell of a person in a broken sad body. I guess I will never understand this. I am just so, so sad.

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toadballet1 May 2011
I think your instincts to speak with the administrators at the NH is a good one. Ask if they can refer you to a company that helps people with the Medicaid paperwork. I know that they charge a fee, but they also know the ins and outs of the system. Many ALFs and NHs have companies that do this for their residents and there is no charge to the patient. I suggest this because I am trying to get VA benefits for Mom (btw, was either of your parents a veteran?) and I am sure that I wouldn't have known all the little things that make an application the strongest and most accurate it can be without their assistance.
Be careful with the meds. Learn why they are giving her each Rx. Ask about the side effects and ask how long she will need to be on them. That may be why you are getting the blank expression.
good luck...try not to let your sadness get in the way of helping your Mom. I find that when I am backed into a corner, a solution, that I never even considered, seems to present itself.
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jeannegibbs May 2011
When did she start the depression medication? That can often take several weeks to become fully effective. Please talk to the doctor who prescribed it, or the NH doctor is that is different, and learn what to expect from the medication, and what to do if it doesn't seem to be working. I know we think of medicine as a science, but each human body is unique. Treating some illnesses is pretty much trial-and-error. If the medication your mom takes should be more effective by now, perhaps a different med or a change of dosage is in order. Bad things have happened to your mom. First a broken leg, then a move from her familiar environment. She is entitled to feel bad. Who wouldn't in her circumstances? But because this is interfering with what enjoyment she could be getting out of her remaining years, I think it is worth trying to help her out of the depression. Depression is more than just feeling appropriately bad about bad things. There are things you can do: advocate for medical care, follow up, see that things are going smoothly in the NH, help iron out any glitches, work through the godawful paperwork that accompanies financial assistance, inform your sister of the situation frequently. There are things you can't do: pay for your mother's care out of your income; have your mother move in with you; control your sister's behavior; wave a magic wand and make the depression go away. Focus on what you can do, and be proud that you are doing it. Take breaks as needed. Let go of what you can't do. All this is easier said than done. And I'll bet you knew all of it already. But sometimes it is helpful to hear from a caring outsider.

You will be happy again. Life goes on. Some days it is worse, and many days it is better. Grab little chunks of happiness where you can. Don't feel guilty about feeling happy! Life is not fair, but it is good. I don't think we are ever the same after experiencing a huge loss -- the death of a parent, the disability of a loved one. But humans are amazingly resilient. We may never be the same, but we will be happy. (I'm counting on it!)
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springrobin May 2011
Thanks Jeanne. I really don't know where that money is supposed to come from. I'm going to talk to the financial office at the nursing home to see if it makes any sense to them. I'm sure I will get help with this, but I am feeling so overwhelmed right now I can't think straight. My mom has been tested for Alzheimers, which was negative, but she has been diagnosed with "hardening of the arteries" which I believe is the same as dementia. I may be wrong about this. The doctor believed she was depressed and she is now on meds for that. She cries at the drop of a hat, and this is so disturbing to me. I feel somehow it is my fault all of this is happening, and I should be able to fix it. I am the one that didn't have the financial means to keep her at home, and I feel that the choice to put her in a nursing home was my choice and that's why she is so unhappy. I know this sounds insane, but that is the way I really feel. I have a sister and grown nieces and nephews that don't lift a finger to help with anything, and really seem to care less. That's another thing I'm trying to understand, because my mom was a wonderful mother and so good to all of us. I'm just going to have to keep coming here for my support and help, and I hope maybe I can help someone else.
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jeannegibbs May 2011
Do they mean $745 out of her SS check? That makes sense. If they mean $745 over and above the SS, that sure can't come out of $56, can it? Does she have assets? Does the nursing home have a social worker, or even someone in the billing department who can help you straighten this out? It is tough to go through this without an experienced guide.

As for being sad, that seems like a perfectly appropriate response to the situation. When bad things happen, it is normal to feel bad. If you seem to be stuck, if you are having a hard time working through the sadness and moving on to do what needs to be done, then perhaps a support group or counselling, or even medication for you should be considered.

In addition to trating her broken leg, has your mother had a through geriatric workup? You say she doesn't have Alzheimers -- has that been determined medically? Have other forms of dementia been eliminated? How about depression?

My heart goes out to you. Get some help with the Medicaid application. Get some help for yourself if the sadness lingers on and on or is overwhelming. And come here to vent often.
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