When mom and dad went south for the winter, I found myself again working to set up a care network around them. I had previously found a way to get to get mom a pass for the senior transportation van to take her to medical appointments. I was determined spend a few months with them (nearby not in their home) to evaluate their needs.
In the fall I had telephoned the county Agency on Aging and learned that they operated a little differently than the one in the northern state. This one did a preliminary evaluation over the phone by asking me about their financial resources and their ability to function in different situations. Based on that evaluation and the fact that they were both over 80 years old (apparently an important milestone for this type of help), they scheduled a caseworker to do an in-home evaluation while I was there. This evaluation determined that in this area dad was immediately eligible for a case manager and specific services. Mom was eligible but on a wait-list for the same services. Dad’s dementia and inability to function on his own made him higher on the eligibility list.
In addition, both mom and dad were eligible immediately for Meals on Wheels though they would be asked to pay a small fee (about $1 per meal) if they could afford to.
Dad’s assigned case manager came out for his first visit while I was visiting mom and dad. During this interview, mom did most of the talking (as usual) while dad answered questions when directly approached. Dad has a tendency to tune out maybe due to his hearing deficit or maybe his dementia. The case manager explained that dad would be eligible for (1) a case manager who would follow his needs and find services for him as needed (2) a home emergency response system (button to wear around the neck that would summon help in an emergency), (3) a homemaker/companion who could clean, shop, etc. 4 hours per week.
He would have to pay a monthly sliding scale fee based on his income. (I spoke to him in advance and told him that mom was not willing to pay for services therefore he should send the bills to me.) This fee would also include the cost of dad’s meals on wheels. The fee would be the same and cover both mom and dad once mom reached the top of the eligibility list. Eligibility for both mom and dad would be re-evaluated every 6 months and services provided based on that re-evaluation.
One unexpected benefit they got from this came when I asked the case manager for the name of a plumber who could be trusted. It seemed their main toilet was sinking into the floor. The case manager inspected it and said they had money specifically set aside for home health and safety issues like this. If he got approval they would not only find the plumber but also pay for the work. In the end, they determined it was caused by a rotting floor and the agency assigned to dad got bids, chose a plumber and paid for the work. It came to over $1000 to cover both the replacement of the floor and the toilet! I was thankful when they finally got the work done as I had feared they would fall through the floor of their mobile home if they waited much longer.
I had hoped to set up a complete network of care around mom and dad in the 3 months I was there. Therefore, while I was working with the county Aging Agency, I had also contracted with a private Care Management Organization to evaluate my parents’ needs. I made the original contact before I knew dad would qualify for case management through the county and their evaluation was done before we knew what would be provided by the Aging Agency. I wrote about that in another post.