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Archive for October, 2015

Thanks

October 30th, 2015 at 04:11 am

Thank you all, for your support.

I'm not in denial that my mother has to die sometime, it's just that I hate having to watch the long, slow decline. Honestly, I'd rather see her go quickly.

There were many times in my life when i did not feel i had a very close relationship with my mother but somehow now that mother/daughter bond is making having to bear witness to this excruciating.

It still surprises me because due to my mother's exceptionally good dietary habits, I ALWAYS thought she would live to be very old, into her 90s. I certainly felt she would outlive her mother, who died at 84 and did not have an especially good diet. And it's possible now my father will outlive her, although he has his own physical frailties and is an ex-smoker.

I need to find better ways to extricate my self from my mother, so I can handle all this stuff better. I'm thinking yoga maybe though in the past I found it boring.

Falls and more falls

October 29th, 2015 at 05:23 pm

Scary stuff, from American Family Physician:
"One fourth of elderly persons who sustain a hip fracture die within six months of the injury. More than 50 percent of older patients who survive hip fractures are discharged to a nursing home, and nearly one half of these patients are still in a nursing home one year later.18 Hip fracture survivors experience a 10 to 15 percent decrease in life expectancy and a meaningful decline in overall quality of life."

My mother arrived at the geriatric psychiatric hospital unit 2 days ago. Since then, she has fallen twice. She is okay, but what about the next time.

She fell in rehab several times. She fell in the hospital. She fell in assisted living. I've lost track of how many times she's fallen in the past 2 months.

Each time she's been moved to a different place, I've tried to make it crystal clear she is a high fall risk and that they should take care. It does not seem like Masonicare hospital unit was very well briefed by Masonicare rehab/assisted living, because she didn't start out with a belt on her at the hospital unit.

When she fell there on Tuesday, the nurse acted like it was no big deal, saying "she just took a tumble, but she's okay." I felt like strangling her. WHAT ABOUT THE NEXT TIME? Will she be as blase about it when she falls and breaks her hip again??

When I talked to her supervisor, she said they COULD confine her to the chair, unlike the assisted living place, with my permission. I THOUGHT she would be safe after that, but I was wrong.

Finally, tonight, after I lit into the nurse who told me she fell there AGAIN, she spoke to a doctor and they will have a nursing assistant with her overnight, then review her case again tomorrow.

My mother is extremely weak from sitting around for 6 weeks now. And no matter how many times she falls, her dementia will prevent her from understanding how dangerous it is for her to try to get up and walk on her own.

When kept in a wheelchair, she's safe, but sedentary, and none of these facilities have the capacity, it seems, to work with her and give her the kind of daily exercise she needs if she's ever to recover an ability to walk again.

This is how it goes, I've heard, with old people who break a hip. They never truly recover and then it's a long, slow decline after that.

I truly feel it's only a matter of time before she falls again and breaks something, requiring surgery. Then her mind will really be gone.

This is what happens when you put a loved one in any kind of institution, I don't care if it's a hospital, rehab or assisted living. You lose a lot of control over what really happens to them, because the truth is, no one can watch someone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are not staffed to do that with every patient.

I can't take her home to live with me. She's beyond my ability to care for her myself. I was exhausted after just 1 particularly trying hour with the aide when she was delirious. Even if I hired a live-in aide here, I don't think she'd be safe. The only way I could ensure she was safe is if I quit my job and took care of her myself, and possibly not even I could save her from falling again.

Another facility transfer

October 27th, 2015 at 09:14 am

The Masonicare people told me yesterday my mom had to go back to the skilled nursing unit (aka, nursing home) because they don't feel then can safely handle her needs, even with 3 "assists" (aides).

That was late yesterday afternoon.

This morning I had a phone meeting with a bunch of them and they are recommending my mother be transferred today to their geriatric medical psychiatric program about an hour's drive from me. They want to do a complete "medical holiday" to try to see what's going on.

I had thought the main reason they wanted to move her out of assisted living was because of her nightitme sleeplessness and agitation. Today they told me it's mainly because she cannot stand or walk without the assistance of 3 people, and to remain in assisted living, you have to be an "assist of one," meaning it requires only one person to help you get around.

The head of nursing had told me earlier she wasn't a fan of Depakote and had seen patients entirely lose their ability to walk. I had protested use of this drug myself several weeks ago but the geriatric psychiatrist talked me into letting them try it. But then they increased the dosage at least two times.

Medicare will cover the cost of my mother's stay at the new facility and she would stay there a week or 2 weeks max, they said. I will keep the assisted living room for at least a week or so to give them a chance to assess what's going on. There's a chance she'll recover enough to return to assisted living. But if not, she'll have to go back to the skilled nursing home, this time on the dementia floor (2nd floor), which is very depressing. (It's in the same wing as the short-term rehab unit, which is where my mother had lived for 4 weeks recovering from her hip surgery up until last Friday when they moved her into assisted living. But she was on the 3rd floor, which is not all dementia patients.)

Because I'm working and used up nearly all my vacation time this year, i probably won't be able to see my mother til Saturday at this new facility, unless I go at night. I'm not very familiar with the area, so I don't know.

I think Masonicare is doing the best they can and it seems like a fairly coordinated approach. It does relieve me that they will stop all meds for now. I'm worried about her but trying not to.

Small miracles

October 25th, 2015 at 06:11 pm

Last summer I appealed a Medicare denial of a bill my mother incurred when she called 911 because she was constipated. This was part of the chain of events that led to me moving her to an assisted living community.

The bill was for the ambulance ride to the hospital, and Medicare denied it because constipation is not a good reason to call 911. So the ambulance company sent me a bill for $665.

In my appeal I showed doctor's notes and diagnoses showing my mother has dementia, and that this was the reason for the ambulance ride, not constipation.

Technically, they were probably correct. I called the ambulance company twice to make sure the bill wouldn't become delinquent while I waited to hear from Medicare. I explained I had appealed it and when i called Medicare to inquire as to status, they said you have to wait 60 days to call and then we can investigate for you.

When I called Medicare back last week, I was so surprised when they told me the bill was fully paid because the ambulance company resubmitted the bill with a revised code.

I have no idea if any of my conversations with EMS caused that to happen or not, but i am eternally grateful. It just seemed like such an enormous amount of money to waste.

The other small miracle happened today. It occurred to me that given my mother's deteriorated mental state and since I know she'll need help bathing, that she really could use a shower seat. Just another expense, I figured. I was driving home today and turned in on my street. My neighbor on the corner had a tag sale the day before and they had a "Free" sign out for the leftovers. I drove by and suddenly noticed a shower seat sitting in the grass, exactly what I wanted! I backed up, got out and picked it up. It seems fine, and it's adjustable!

I just checked Walmart and they're selling them for $52! Wow. That one really dropped in my lap from above.

My mother did not sleep again last night... at all. And it was just awful trying to get her up this morning at noon becus then she was sleepy. The aide is very good and i like her a lot but she's only available for a few days.

I am anticipating the agency tomorrow will tell me I have to pay for 2 people working 12-hour shifts so they are not exhausted by my mother. Right now I'm paying $195 a day on weekdays but with 12-hour shifts paying by the hour I'll be paying $552 a day. It's even higher on weekends and major holidays. So we're talking well over $16,000 a month. The Masonicare rent is another $5350 a month for a grand total of $22,910 a month in costs! That gives me 10 months before the money runs out. There's no doubt I need to start the Title 19 paperwork this weekend.

I got the Medicare statements for all the expenses associated with my mother's surgery. The out of pocket I'll have to pay is only $552, which I don't consider too bad.

If my mother's sleep patterns improved, I could possibly go back to the live-in aide at the lower daily rate, or if her strength and walking improved, I could possibly not have a live-in aide at all. But by the time either of those 2 scenarios happens, I'll have run out of money anyway. It's just an impossible situation. It makes me angry to squander $238,000 in this way but that's health care in America for you.

Carving out a peaceful Sunday

October 24th, 2015 at 06:01 pm

Unless I get a call from Masonicare about something bad going on, I'm not going over there tomorrow.

I plan to put on my favorite old sweatshirt and run my mower over all the fallen leaves and mulch them. I may try to make one of my favorite recipes, sweet potato chunks with black beans and a cilantro/olive oil dressing.

I surrender to whatever happens with mom. I can't arm wrestle God and expect to have my way. I'm just spent. I've done what I can do, and now it's up to her. This may be the way it has to be. Acceptance comes hard to someone who's used to strong-arming her way through life through force of will and determination.

There's no use putting the proceeds from her condo sale into an Ally online money market account. What's the point in complicating my life now or at tax time? $100,000 will earn $1,000 in interest at 1%, so I have a little more than that in the account. But when you're talking such big monthly expenses, for the aide and the assisted living place, $1,000 is a meaningless number.

What I really need to do is find time for the next dreaded task....prepaying for funeral costs. I plan to go with cremation because I believe it is a greener alternative than burial with toxic embalming fluids in the ground. I know I don't want to keep the ashes; it will be too upsetting and a constant reminder. I guess I will have to do what other people do, spread her ashes somewhere that would be beautiful or meaningful to her. She always loved the ocean.

I need to do some comforting things for myself. I can browse Amazon and decide how to spend some $30+ in gift cards. Soon my $500 worth of other gift cards will arrive in the mail.

I will continue to talk to friends who all offer what support they can, in their own way. I find myself talking to complete and total strangers about what I'm going through because I feel I feed on the support I receive. It's the only thing that keeps me going, honestly, aside from my love and compassion for my mom.

This wasn't supposed to be another blog about mom, but as you can see, it is....

And I'll continue my walks in the woods. I'm not a very religious kind of person, but for me, the woods are my church, the tall trees, my steeples.

2015 will be a year that goes down as the Great Depression for me, not in terms of the economy or the state of my finances, but in terms of what's happened with my mother. I'm losing her by degrees, so while I'm spared the shock of a sudden illness or death, I watch her decline, both mentally and physically, each week or month.

My dad took me out to dinner and movie a week ago, calling it our "date." He doesn't often really know what to say when I tell him stuff, but I think he was trying to give me a break from everything going on. My dad, an only child like my mom, must have gone through similar challenges when he had my 89-year-old grandmother move in with him when she had lung cancer. She didn't want chemo treatments, and so she slowly died, hyped up on morphine and painkillers, to the end.

I wonder if we should all plan an Email Nate and Jeff Day so that if we flood them with requests on that one day to fix the photo capabilities on this site, maybe they will finally do something.

My mother's aide quit after 1 night

October 24th, 2015 at 01:25 pm

So after interviewing 2 live-in aides for my mom earlier this week, she started yesterday. I showed her around the 3rd floor and where the little kitchen was that she could use to cook her meals and store her food in the fridge.

She was quite insistent that the fridge wouldn't do because it didn't have a lock on it and she was concerned that dementia patients would help themselves to her food. She asked for a fridge in the room in a rather demanding way. Luckily, Masonicare had one and put in the room for her.

I also paid her $60 cash for the first week's food stipend.

I picked this woman because it seemed she knew what to expect. She had lived with an advanced dementia patient for 3 years until she died.

So yesterday I went to Maplewood around 9 a.m. to empty out the closet there, met my friend Dave there at 10 and he and a maintenance guy moved my mother's dresser, bed, a table and chair out into
Dave's van. We donated my mother's 2nd dresser to Maplewood so we wouldn't have to move it.

We brought it all to Masonicare and set everything up. We hung a bunch of art pieces on the walls. The aide arrived at 2 pm and we went over stuff and i introduced her to my mom. I sat with the money person at Masonicare for over an hour to review and sign all the paperwork, and write the check.

Finally, I went home around 5 p.m.

This morning I was back at Masonicare at 9 a.m. because there was a social worker who wanted to meet with me and my mother. As I was walking into the lobby, I saw the aide walking toward me. She said my mother had been up all night and I could see she was upset. I said, tell me more about what happened, but just let me drop this stuff off in my mother's room. (I was carrying extra clothes and Depends.) She kept going in the opposite direction without saying anything and I assumed she was coming back shortly. She never did. And she didn't return the $60 I gave her for food, either.

I only learned she quit by talking to the other aides there. They said she said she didn't feel well, had diabetes and was going to the hospital.

I talked to the agency on the phone, who were profusely apologetic and already looking for a replacement. If there's one cardinal rule, they said, you never walk out on a patient. They said they would make sure I got m y $60 back and told me she was terminated.

One of the agency staff people arrived with the replacement aide at 2 pm, who can only fill in for a few days until a permanent replacement is hopefully found. The fill-in aide seems very nice and there were 2 of us filling her in on the situation, so I hope she knows what to expect. She is an RN.

Apparently the first aide called the agency at 8:30 pm last night and said my mother was agitated and not sleeping. Well, geez, it's 8:30 pm and when i left there around 3 pm the day before, she had put my mother in bed becus my mother did say she wanted to lie down for a while. I don't know if she let my mother sleep for hours or what. But that and the early bedtime could account for part of the problem.

After I learned I would be meeting the new replacement at 2pm today, i saw i had a few hours to kill and decided to stop sitting in my car and crying and made myself do my errands: a dump run and a trip to an organic apple orchard my dad told me about. I got into an extended conversation with the orchardist there who was very nice and sold all his many varieties for just $2 a pound. I bought 7 pounds of apples to take my mind off my troubles.

After leaving Masonicare today round 3, i went for a walk where i usually go and enjoyed the autumn foliage, wishing i had my camera with me.

I kind of feel like giving up. The next step will be, if they can't find an aide who can find ways to deal with my mother's sleepless nights, is to hire 2 12-hour shift aides at an even higher price than I'm paying now, which is around $195 a day, $205 on weekends and close to $300 a day on major holidays. So the money would then run out even faster and put my mother in a nursing home pretty quickly, which I've been trying to forestall for as long as possible. The other option is to put her in the nursing home now and private pay for it til Title 19 picks it up, although that doesn't really get me anything for mom tho it would give me fewer responsibilities.

This is all just too exhausting. While waiting for the replacement aide to show up, I tried spending time with my mother, but i think becus my general stress level was way up and my patience down, my mother was getting agitated, and so i wasn't able to take her outside to enjoy the "fall festival" that was going on. She was talking and making no sense, seeing people who weren't there, and at one point during her in-room breakfast she was trying to eat a latex glove on the table. This all would have shocked me 4 months ago but now it just depresses the heck out of me.

They say that dementia robs you of your loved one by degrees, and that is very true. Each day, each week, each month, you lose a little bit more of them, and somehow you know you'll never get them back.

Everyone at Masonicare seems super nice and supportive, from the Haitian aide on the floor to the nurse, admissions director, the money person and even the maintenance crew. It hit me as I was signing all the paperwork that I should have come here first, but I was seduced by Maplewood. It being a non-profit, I trust them not to gouge me, and she said their board of directors is happy if they break even, but don't require they even turn a profit. Their mission really is to take care of the families of Masons. My German grandfather was a Mason, so I kind of feel a connection there.

Exhausting doings all week

October 22nd, 2015 at 06:06 pm

Monday was a day off and I spent most of it making phone calls to try to find an agency that could place a live-in aide with my mother on very short notice.

It got complicated because some agencies say their aides are independent contractors while others said they treat them as employees. Although the one agency said i wouldn't have to worry about paying FICA and other taxes, everything i read online said that senior caregivers are usually considered employees, just like nannies or live-in help are. If I can control how they do their job and they can't work elsewhere, they're employees.

Of course the rates for aides who are treated as employees and paid by the agency are higher.

I was on the phone with multiple people at Masonicare too, and got my friend Dave to agree to move the furniture on Friday morning. My mother will be moved in that day at 4 p.m.

Tuesday I went in to work but was still making phone calls at my desk. I wanted to go in to work because this was the one day they were offering free flu shots and biometric screenings and anyone who got those 2 things done gets $20 subtracted from their monthly health insurance premiums.

I worked yesterday and today from home, and between work, I met 2 aides at Masonicare and interviewed them there. Both are Jamaican and from NYC. The one I met yesterday drove up and the car broke down, so instead of meeting me at 2:30 pm she finally made it there at 5. The one I met today missed the train but managed to get here on time.

Last night after work I ran to Maplewood and stuffed my car with stuff, then brought it home. When I met the 2nd aide at Masonicare today, after a morning dentist appointment (I told the dental hygienist this was most definitely going to be the most relaxing part of my day), I also dropped off what I'd picked up at Maplewood last night. Then I raced back home because I didn't tell my boss I was doing this.

Tonight after 5 was a repeat performance: raced to Maplewood, stuffed the car with more stuff, then dropped some of it off at my house and then brought the rest to Masonicare. It's a real pain coming and going from either place because the doors on dementia units are locked, so you either have to use a fob or punch in a special code and it just takes longer.

I've been talking a lot with the two women at the aide agency. I picked the older aide who's a year older than me. Her husband is going back to Grenada but she is staying here. She lived with a dementia woman in her home for 3 years til she died.

The other woman was around 40, but I learned she had 10- and 12-year kids at home with her husband in the Bronx, and while she said it was okay, it seemed to me she would really miss her family and would probably end up making trips back and forth a lot, possibly affecting my mother's continuity of care....although she doesn't have a car. She said she could take a taxi to the grocery store, but it seemed like it would be difficult to live like that.

The other one drives and Masonicare said she could keep her food in the fridge down the hall and cook in the small kitchen there. She can also use their washer/dryer but they won't do her laundry, just my mother's.

The room is going to be a little cramped with the 2 twin beds. I'm moving just 1 of my mother's 2 smaller dressers over from Maplewood, plus her table and 2 chairs. The aide will have her own closet with a shelf above and they'll share the bath. My mother's new wheelchair will take up space, but I'm not bringing all the artsy hobby stuff (sketch pad and colored markers, yarns, the small table loom) because my mother never touched these things and I've come to the conclusion that the Alzheimer's, cruelly, has truly robbed her of ever being able to create art again.

I have concerns about my mother's general nighttime agitation keeping the aide up as the aide is entitled to 8 hours of sleep, along with 3 free hours daily. I'm also to pay the aide a $60 a week food stipend.

This is all going to happen on a wing and a prayer. I have to say that Masonicare did everything on their end in a speedy and efficient manner, although I still haven't' signed the contract and paid because they weren't ready with the paperwork. I'll do that tomorrow. I'll be giving them about $10K to get my mother in the door (that includes 1 month security deposit.

Because they have metal walls over there, I have to get a maintenance guy to help me hang my mother's art. There's not quite as much as she had at Maplewood, but she still has a lot. I feel it's important to have a lot of her art there.

I saw my mother briefly tonight around 7 as i made one attempt to locate her Maplewood key. She could have had it on her wrist when they brought her to the hospital, but it wasn't with her returned items and I searched her old room at Maplewood everywhere. If you don't return a key (I have one myself) they charge you $250.)

I can try to find where in the hospital my mother stayed...this is going back 5 weeks ago now....but i would assume that if they had the key they would have contacted me by now.

The only other possibility is that the staff at maplewood removed the key from her wrist before the ambulance took her away. I would just make a copy of my key, but it says on it Do Not Duplicate and I assume most hardware stores would honor that.

I'm pretty tired, and tomorrow's going to be the longest day of all, and it will mirror the day in May that I brought my mother to Maplewood. Will go to Maplewood around 9 a.m. to empty out her closet and put in my car; Dave will meet me there with his van at 10 a.m. and then we'll bring the furniture out. We'll drop the 1 dresser at my house and then bring the rest of the stuff to her new place at Masonicare.

I'll have to sign the paperwork and write the check around noon. My friend Dave will probably then take off. The new aide arrives at 2 p.m. and my mother will be moved in at 4 p.m. To help mom acclimate, I'll probably stay for dinner with the aide.

Saturday they're having some sort of fall festival around mid-day and was planning on taking my mother to that anyway, so maybe do it with or without the aide, I haven't decided.

Sunday will be my own time and back to my regular work week next week.

My new boss has been asking me to let them know when a good time for me to visit for the day up in Boston area is and I'll have to do it at some point, although it's exhausting and I hate having to do it...a very long day.

She knows what's going on with my mother so I get a reprieve for now but can't put them off forever.

I redeemed my $500 in gift cards from Citi Thank You Premier and got cards for all the stores I usually shop at: Lowe's, Macy's, Walmart, Home Goods.

Moving at warp speed

October 19th, 2015 at 09:37 am

So to recap, I learned Friday night that Maplewood, where my mother resided before her fall and hip surgery, estimated my costs to keep mom there would jump from about $69,000 a year to $144,000 a year because they felt she needed a live-in aide AT Maplewood due to her high fall risk.

Talked to Masonicare this morning. I tried to get them to delay her discharge from rehab this week to give my mother more time and me more time to figure things out, but the very latest they can release her is this Saturday.

The rehab guy said he could not justify keeping her in rehab any longer (even though she would continue to get rehab in assisted living, wherever she goes, afterwards).

I am going to view available rooms at Masonicare in an hour and then meeting with the nurse who evaluated my mother and to go over costs of having her there instead of Masonicare.

As mentioned previously, a huge benefit of moving her to Masonicare, which admittedly is not nearly as new and beautiful as Maplewood, would be that I would guaranteed a room in their nursing facility when my mother gets to the point of needing that.

The Masonicare social worker I talked to on the phone said she had a quick conversation with the nurse, who it sounds like may recommend Level 4 care (the highest they offer) but not a 24/7 aide. I will find out exactly what level 4 care includes, but even at level 4, which is $3406 a month, and the base rent of the smallest space available, a studio, at $4318 a month, for a total of $7724/mth, this would be substantially cheaper than the roughly $12,000 a year Maplewood said I would be looking at.

When I moved my mother to Maplewood last May, I calculated her total assets would keep her going there for 3 years. Now with her need with bathing, dressing and lots of other stuff, Maplewood could only keep her at the hiked up price for 1 year. And so they urged me to "give her one good year" there.

But at this point I don't think the plushness of my mother's surroundings is something my mother would be as aware of now so it seems less important.

Their social worker said with an aide at Maplewood, or with 2-hour bed checks every night at Masonicare, they can't guarantee another fall won't happen. I have to resign myself that another fall is largely impossible to avoid.

We can do what we can....i'll make sure they get those bumps on the wheelchair so my mother doesn't tip the chair over again, and social worker said medicare will pay for a hospital bed with low bars so that while it won't prevent her from getting out if she really wants to, it could help somewhat. And they've already gotten her wearing a velcro belt attached to an alarm so if she takes it off, the alarm sounds. The law prohibits anything else in the way of seatbelts or restraints.

Head spinning. As usual, decisions have to be made very quickly. No time to consult with other social workers.

Left a message for friend D. to see if he'd be available this week to move mom's stuff out of maplewood. I'd have to take another vacation day to get it done with him although social worker said they could have the hospital bed in place. I'd like to have all her art and stuff already in place, though, before Saturday.

Of course, Maplewood's really going to zing me with fees. They require 30 days notice when you vacate. Since I'll be moving her immediately, i'll have to pay the last month's rent for nothing. I did pay a security deposit, so i guess that could be applied to that last month's rent. I also paid a non refundable $5,000 "community fee," which was largely a waste of money. And of course, they made me pay the $5300 rent for the room these past 5 weeks while my mother was in rehab, to hold the room.

Maplewood sucks. But i can't give notice til I"m sure I'll go with Masonicare, which I'll decide thi9s afternoon.

Another difficult choice

October 16th, 2015 at 07:19 pm

So the people at rehab have been anticipating discharging my mother mid-next week. The assumption was that she would return to the resort-like Maplewood. Earlier my viewpoint had been, the sooner the better, in my hope that a familiar (?) setting and routine could help her gain higher functioning.

I was not prepared for the bombshell told to me by Maplewood tonight.

They had sent their nurses to rehab to reevaluate my mother's level of functioning. She's in noticeably worse shape mentally than she was pre-surgery, but she did make progress with physical rehab. She can walk, but she must have a person with her, guiding and cuing her.

The problem they described, which I was already aware of, is this: Now that the initial pain from the surgery is gone and my mother is feeling better, she is becoming more eager to stand up out of her wheelchair and start trying to walk around on her own. She doesn't understand how frail she has become after 5 weeks of largely sitting in a chair or lying in bed (the 1st week in the hospital, post-surgery). She has no doubt lost muscle mass.

So she is lacking in muscle strength and has balance issues. No doubt this contributed to her fall last week at rehab.

So combine this imupulsivity to rise out of the chair with worsened dementia and you have another fall waiting to happen. Fall prevention has become top priority, front and center.

I spoke with Maplewood tonight after work, 3 of them on the call, and they are recommending to me that I hire a round the clock aide to be with her, indeed, to live with her in her little room, at Maplewood. The room's not that big to begin with. Assuming my mother would accept this, I'd have to get a cot or a couch. The alternative would be to hire 2 aides doing 12-hour shifts who would not sleep overnight, although Maplewood said it's actually cheaper to pay for someone who would sleep there.

They are not permitted (not sure if it's state laws or just their regulations) to restrain someone with a seat belt to their chair, and they won't use bars on the bed to keep them from getting up in the middle of the night. Although Maplewood is dedicated to "memory care," they don't have the capacity to have someone at her side 24/7; hence the need for the aide.

Not to say the aide would be required for as long as my mother lives there, but no one really knows what will happen.

With the sale of the condo, combined with what remains of my mother's brokerage accounts, I have a total of $238,000 in assets. That's it, except for another $12,000 a year in Social Security.

The estimated cost of the aide, plus Maplewood's rent, is (get ready) $12,000 a month, or $144,000 a year. With the assets I just described above, that means that instead of my mother's money lasting her about 3, 3.5 years (based on paying the current $5800/mth), her money would now last about 1.5 years at most but more realistically, 1 year (there will surely be out of pocket costs I'm not aware of now).

Of course they want me to bring her back and they made their case for bringing my mother back to hopefully familiar surroundings in their lovely facility with the great food where they would aim to get my mother walking again with a walker. But I would have to have the aide there.

The other option, they pointed out, is to put my mother in Masonicare's nursing home, with an aide, and that would actually be more expensive ($14K to $15,000/mth), plus it's a nursing home setting.

Why not give her one more good year in the Maplewood environment, they said. Then she'd go to a nursing home like at Masonicare.

All very compelling, after I gained my speaking voice back.

(There is a 3rd option, which they also touched on, that of keeping her in Masonicare assisted living, which is a bit cheaper than Maplewood, but presumably (I haven't had a chance to talk to the social worker there yet) it would also require an aide with her. When I wheeled my mother around once to that end of the building (It's a large wing) i wasn't crazy about what i saw because there was no one around; presumably all the residents were locked inside their rooms alone. Don't really know that, but the place was very, very quiet.

After I hung up from them, I talked to 4 key people in my life: 1. my 2nd cousin. Unfortunately, she was all shook up because she had to put her dog to sleep. We talked a lot about that but also my mother's situation.

Maplewood had urged me to push Masonicare to give her at least 1 more week in rehab becus they felt it could make a big difference in helping her regain her strength and balance and I believe there is some leeway there.

Medicare will continue paying for rehab only if continuous improvement is being made; once the patient "plateaus," they don't want to pay. So on the one hand Masonicare had told me they felt she'd gone about as far as she could, while also telling Maplewood she was regaining her strength a little every day. So which is it?

And my cousin agreed that this is the first thing I should try to get them to agree to, to extend her stay there for at least another week. I'll have to wait til Monday to talk to the social worker.

Next I talked to my dad. He couldn't really offer much good advice as he has no real knowledge of how the healthcare system works, but i still wanted to update him on what was happening.

Then I talked to my friend R. who surprised me by saying he thought I should put my mother in the Masonicare nursing home, because the money would be spent down anyway and my mother's only going to get worse. He only said that after asking if there was any way I could move my mother in my home with me and have the 24/7 aide live here at my house. It would be a lot cheaper than getting the aide at Maplewood. I agreed it would be cheaper, but I don't want to do it. I have done a lot for my mother but I don't think I can give up my life and my own sense of privacy in my home. Even with an aide here, my caretaker responsibilities would be round the clock.

I sometimes have felt close to a nervous breakdown, quite honestly (long, rambling posts here are one way i have of coping with the stress) and it would again put me in the position i was in before I moved my mother into assisted living, meaning that whenever there was a crisis that the aide couldn't handle, I would get a phone call. Having MS, stress...of the extreme, chronic kind....could also trigger an MS relapse, and then what use am i to anyone? So no, I can't do that.

Lastly, I talked to my friend D., who pretty much said the same thing as R, move her into the nursing home or assisted living there if they'd take her that way, but he was much more convincing and patient about talking me through all the reasons why.

He reminded me that I shouldn't feel I have to make every decision based on what's best for my mother. That I have to factor in my own well-being too. And the well-being for me, in keeping mom at Masonicare assisted living, would be that by doing so now, I would be guaranteed a bed in the nursing home when she needed it. If I had her at Maplewood, I'd be on the wait list for Masonicare and there would be no guarantees a bed would be available when I needed it.

If they wouldn't take her at Masonicare assisted living, then the other option is their nursing home. Again, if she was already at Masonicare, in whatever capacity, I would have the peace of mind of not having to worry about moving mom yet again. (I would have to move her now, but probably one more move now rather than later would be easier.)

My friend D. reminded me that there is no wrong decision, that whatever choice I make, no one's going to accuse me of not being a good daughter or of not taking care of my mother.

As usual, I have to make a decision in a hurry. While I was able to talk to Maplewood tonight after they did their assessment, I was not able to receive Masonicare's assessment and will have to wait til Monday. Luckily, I have the day off from work. And the plan was to move her Wednesday!

So I have a really important decision to make. I had earlier been dreading having to move her from Maplewood now, one reason being that i have leaned on my handyman/carpenter a lot in moving stuff out of mom's condo and i happen to know that he is extraordinarily busy so i really didn't want to have to lean on him one more time to help with a move of her stuff at Maplewood.

My friend D., although he has a pronounced limp from a hunting accident as a teen, offered to help me move her stuff if it came to that. He has a van and they have elevators there. It's basically 2 small wood dressers, a twin bed and a nice wood table. The rest is small stuff. I was so relieved when he offered to help. I had been afraid to ask him on account of his leg.

Any comments? What would you do? It comes down to should I make a decision based on yes, return her to Maplewood for one super expensive, good year, then finding a nursing home for her when the money runs out, OR keeping her in the facility she's in to ensure there's a space for her in the nursing home and I don't have to move her anymore after this time.

Even with a 24/7 aide, I don't think there's any guarantee she won't fall again. I could see an aide getting bored spending so much with an old lady and she could get distracted by something or leave for a moment, and then bam. Mom's down on the floor. And at Masonicare, they have bare hard tiles; Maplewood is all carpeted.

But on another note, I don't think my mother is as aware of her surroundings as she used to be. I haven't heard her say at rehab oh, this place is depressing, it's so institutional. She hasn't said that becus of the dementia because any normal person would feel that way. So bringing her back to Maplewood might not make any difference, even though it looks so much better to me.

10:30 pm UPDATE: Unbelievably, shortly after I posted this, i got a call from Masonicare. My mother fell again. She was sitting in her wheelchair and she somehow tipped it backwards and fell backwards. She told the nurse she hit her head so she is on her way back to the hospital. I can't take this. I was on the cliff and the nurse gradually calmed me down. She said they will put "bumpers" on the wheelchair so she can't tip it. WHY DIDN'T THIS THEY DO THAT BEFORE? She also asked for permission to use a velcro belt around her which my mother could undo, but it would then set off an alarm. AGAIN, WHY DID YOU NOT ALREADY DO THIS?????????????????

Closing the book on the closing

October 15th, 2015 at 02:10 am

I met with my lawyer the day before the scheduled closing last Thursday. I signed a bunch of papers. He went through the HUD settlement with me but it was very confusing because the buyer's numbers did not jive with ours and we were looking at 3 different sets of numbers.

I was a little thrown when he told me I wouldn't be able to collect the check immediately after the closing, which I didn't plan to attend for several reasons. He said no, he would deposit it in a specially designated trustee account and would have to wait 2 days for it to clear before he could write me a check. We agreed he would either hand deliver it to my house or overnight it yesterday.

Despite that verbal understanding, over the weekend I began feeling a little uneasy about everything, mainly because I've never done business with this attorney before and really don't know all that much about him. This is the first time I've sold any real estate. Plus this is a very large sum of money we're talking about, and I began thinking how I left his office without really anything in hand to show for it because none of the numbers would be considered final until the closing took place.

It occurred to me that he could be trying to abscond with my money! Or, he could probably make a tidy profit in interest simply by holding onto all his real estate clients' closing checks in his trustee account for just 3 or 4 days before writing the client the check. Interest earned after just a couple of days isn't a lot until you think about checks amounting to half a million or more.

My anxieties began to get a hold of me and one thought led to another. So yesterday morning at 8:30 a.. I called and left a message wanting to know how exactly I'd get the check as we hadn't nailed that down. I made the call when I arrived at work as I sat in my car in the parking garage. When I hadn't heard back from him an hour later, I called and left a 2nd message. In the past, he had always promptly answered the phone himself. Now, he wasn't. By late morning, I decided to call his paralegal, who promised to contact him on my behalf. A short while later, I got his call at work and we agreed that he'd leave the check in my back door.

I got the check last night when I got home from work and everything appears in order.

I felt embarrassed that for a while, I actually contemplated that my attorney might possibly be pulling some kind of fast one on me, although one would think if he was going to do this, he would choose a property with a much higher value than my mother's. (It was a sinking feeling that reminded me of how I felt after naively believing in 2013 I could go into a car dealership and negotiate a new car purchase without being totally taken advantage of. Fortunately at that time I was able to undo a car purchase I had committed to on paper but really didn't want.)

Still, I thought there were a few things my attorney did that just heightened my anxiety, like spending an undue amount of time going over the numbers on 3 separate versions of paperwork: his, the buyer's attorney and his own personal accounting sheet, which listed out the credits and expenses differently. It just made it all very confusing and hard to follow.

He should have made the time to reconcile these numbers before I, the client, arrived in the office. He was on the phone with his paralegal while I was there, trying to figure out the discrepancy with the other attorney's numbers, and this didn't exactly inspire confidence in me.

Probably the worst thing was that I signed a bunch of important documents and left his office without copies of anything. Perhaps all this could have been avoided if I'd chosen to attend the closing.

Anyway, after getting the check last night, I decided to send my attorney an email just sharing some of this feedback with him. I also apologized for not realizing he DID return my first phone call yesterday morning, almost immediately. That's actually why I didn't get the call, because after I called him from the parking garage, I was walking up to my office on the 6th floor and that's when he called me back on the office number I'd given him. Unfortunately, I have missed messages on my phone before because the machine does not always indicate I have a call unless I think to log in to Messages and/or check the log status of incoming and outgoing calls. In my job, I don't use the phone much, believe it or not.

He emailed me back with a detailed, articulate and interesting response explaining the movement of money after a closing, what the typical practices of other lawyers are as well as his own and he did point out a few things that happened in my closing that he didn't like. Nothing major, but it did require some adjustments.

So anyway, I am greatly relieved and I do really like my attorney after seeing how he responded. I could tell when I did finally talk to him this morning that his paralegal must have relayed to him my concerned tone of voice because he sounded a tiny bit puzzled, or hurt. Not defensive, but maybe surprised that I might be less than completely confident in him.

He pointed out in his email last night, and I had been thinking the same thing, that if you don't have complete trust in your attorney, then it's game over. It's that kind of profession where you have to trust that they're going to do the right thing by you. And it's the same way in my profession, banking...if customers for whatever reason lose trust in the bank as a safe institution to entrust their savings to, well, you've just lost a customer.

Today (it's early Thursday morning as I write this) I have another important meeting at Masonicare with mom's caregivers. I don't know if her recent fall will change the hoped for schedule of returning her to Maplewood next week.

As far as falls go, I'm not sure you can reasonably expect someone to be by their side 24 hours a day to prevent another fall. And according to my cousin, legally they cannot restrain a patient in a wheelchair due to fire safety regulations. I am certainly going to raise the issue at the meeting though, to ask how we can prevent falls in the future. And to be honest, I have NOT ruled out investigating the possibility of a lawsuit aimed at the doctor who sent my mother back to assisted living and did not not detect the hip fracture when she was sent to the hospital following her 1st 2 falls.

I don't want to get into some sort of protracted, time-consuming and expensive legal battle that's iffy. I would only pursue it if an attorney, possibly the one I just used, felt I had a very strong case.

So after this morning's meeting at Masonicare, I will run to the bank to deposit my mega check into my mother's no interest checking account. As soon as it clears there and I will ask how long that takes, I will make a transfer of all of it to a new Ally online money market account, which gets 1% interest. That's the best rate I can find.

If, later this year, the Fed finally raises interest rates, I might like to take a large chunk of that money and put it in a higher earning, short-term CD for maybe 6 months or a year max. Like, maybe I could get 2 or 3% or something to beat inflation. But otherwise, I don't think I want to put this money at risk and it will just sit in the 1% Ally account..especially since another roughly $100K is already exposed to market risks in her brokerage account.

I was really looking forward to delivering mom's art to my cousin this weekend with my father, but sadly, it looks like her husband may pass soon. They've told her it's time for Hospice and that she should get funeral plans in place. She is battling her in-laws about where to bury him. We'll have to reschedule at some later time. I called her yesterday to see how she was doing and we had a good talk, even laughing as we shared some childhood memories of my grandparents.

Oh, and at the very last minute, when I'd realized I'd forgotten to include the keys to the new slider doors at my mother's condo to my lawyer when I signed all the paperwork, I left the keys for my lawyer to pick up on his way in to his office. (My house is on his way.) Inside the envelope with the keys I also wrote a brief letter addressed to the buyer, wishing her well and telling her about my mother's many happy and artistically productive years in that condo. I also told her she has great neighbors and encouraged her to get to know them. I actually felt a desire to get to know her better, but I guess in this kind of transaction it's best not to do that, mainly in case she has issues with the condo down the road or something.

After all my walk-throughs, my realtor informed me she'd found one remaining piece of my mother's art still in the condo after I handed over the keys, so she was able to drop that off for me today as well.

So we really have wrapped everything up. Now all that remains to be done is to account for the sale at tax time. I will use the same accountant my mother used for years. I'll have to do a very rough accounting of her cost basis as I have some knowledge of just a few improvements she made to the condo over the years which may or may not be permitted as deductions from her purchase price. Like windows, the slider doors, new stove and dishwasher. That's about it. I did the carpeting, but I know that won't fly.

Next I need to brace myself for the onslaught of medical bills and paperwork related to mom's surgery.

Mom fell again

October 13th, 2015 at 02:35 pm

My mother fell again, at the rehab place. They have taken her to the hospital to get x-rays because she fell on the hip she previously fractured and was complaining of pain.

Here we go again. I can't even imagine what condition she'd be in if she has another fracture and has to undergo a second surgery 6 weeks after the first one.

UPDATE: Hospital is sending her back to rehab. They did x-rays and found no hip fractures. Can I tell you how relieved I feel?

SOOOO disappointed!

October 13th, 2015 at 08:43 am

I had scheduled Make a Home Foundation to come here this morning to pick up my old couch and a small wood trunk of my mother's.

I decided to "donate" my couch (it requires a $25 donation) because 1) i never really liked its crazy colors 2) i bought it used 20 years ago 3) it is time for a change and 4) getting rid of it and not immediately getting a new couch would give me more room to store my mother's art until I could sell some of it.

Two guys showed up on time with a huge truck. One of them was the same guy who moved a bunch of my mother's old furniture from her condo back in late May.

Before they got here, I used a lint brush to remove some cat hair. The couch is in very good shape considering its age. No rips, tears, stains and structurally sound. Waldo did like to sleep on it though.

So the guys began by removing the cushions and carrying them out. Then the one guy came back in and said I'm sorry, i noticed some cat hair on one of the cushions and we can't take it becus some people have allergies and it could be a liability issue for us, etc.

What??? No one mentioned cat hairs being a problem. He said it would come under the category of "stains."

What was worse was I still had to pay the $25 fee for having them come out. At least they took the small wood trunk (for which I couldn't get any buyers for on facebook).

I'm super annoyed....I thought I brushed it pretty well but apparently just a few hairs is enough to stop the sale.

Weekend doings

October 12th, 2015 at 12:36 am

It's 2:57 a.m. EST. Can't sleep, so might as well post to Savings Advice...Smile

Saturday I had high hopes of getting the "medallion signature" on the T. Rowe Price forms at my mother's bank so I could finally mail T. Rowe the paperwork needed to gain complete control over my mother's brokerage accounts, 1 full year after they mailed me the forms. (At the time I received them, the paperwork seemed overwhelming with everything else going on and I just couldn't deal with it.)

Unfortunately, the bank couldn't do anything for me because they said I needed to have brought the most recent T. Rowe statement with me, which I hadn't done. And I didn't have my ID/Password with me for the account.

So I'll likely have to wait til next Saturday to do this AGAIN as I can't get over there during the work week. Also, only the branch manager can perform this task and she told me she's on vacation next week. I'll have to go to another branch, where they don't know me, and call ahead to make sure the branch manager will be there when I go.

I had a good visit with my mother. She's still not making any sense, but at least she's calm and was happy to see me.

Yesterday, Sunday, was a pretty heavenly day. Meaning, I stayed home and had the day to myself with no real agenda or to do list as I usually do.

In the morning I wound up tidying up in the house. "Tidying up" these days is a relative term, but I've been doing what I can.

I spent several hours sorting through my mother' art. To be honest, she had a fair number of framed or unframed photographs which I don't believe would ever sell. I don't have the same attachment to her photos as I do to her art. So I made the decision to reuse the frames they were in, and then I was able to carry them up to my attic for long-term storage. The unframed photos I'll dispose of. I have to make room around here, especially knowing I'll be getting back the 31 pieces soon from the current exhibit.

I was also able to frame 2 matted pieces of art that I thought could sell and if not I would keep them myself. I kept shaking my head because my mother appears to have a lot of matted art that is not in the standard sizes. I have A LOT of matted art in VERY large sizes as well, meaning that framing any of them will be fairly expensive because it will all be custom. I do have a few in mind that I like and plan to frame, because i know that over time just being mounted on foam core, they can get damaged. Now's the time to preserve what I can.

Also to make room, I hung more art on the walls. And there is now room for when Make a Home Foundation comes on Tuesday to take away my couch. Once the couch is gone, I'll plan on storing there most of the other art that is coming back to me and also the art now sitting on the floor of my living room. The family room is unheated over the winter but I don't think the cold will affect the art.

Although it was a PERFECT weather day today, bright, sunny and in the low 60s, I didn't really get outside til about 3 pm. After drinking my tea outside on the lawn chair, I decided to get to work getting rid of the pile of plastic pots at the head of my driveway. They'd been sitting there all summer and this is how I stored all the hundreds of flower bulbs I dug up to save them before the masons came to rebuild my front entry in June. I wanted to get the bulbs back in the ground before winter, plus there were overgrown weeds in all the pots, looking like a real eyesore.

I planted everything rather hurriedly; who knows what will come up or if I planted at the proper depth. The plastic pots are in the recycle bin. I swept up most of the leaves in that corner. I still have a humongous mulch pile in the driveway which you have to walk around to get to another set of stone stairs leading to my backyard. I'd wanted the Make a Home guys to carry my couch out through the sun room, into the backyard, and down these stairs becus the sun room door is wider than my front door, plus art is in the way all over the place. But the mulch pile is a bit of an obstacle. I shoveled some of it into a trash bin in my garage but there's still quite a bit more.

Anyway, in addition to all that, I also spent some time deadheading my coral bell bed. I loaded up my car with a bunch of cardboard boxes and paper for recycling when I stop at the landfill on my way to work on Wednesday.

I also enjoyed perusing the pumpkins at the local garden center. I had an orange one, but wanted some more for my beautiful new bluestone step entryway. The steps are plenty wide for pots or pumpkins. So I bought another orange one but with lots of warts (I love warts on a pumpkin) and a cool pinkish colored one.

My reading materials these days is a book about the Okinawa diet. Okinawa, an island off the coast of Japan, is home to some of the longest lived people on the planet, and not surprisingly, they eat a largely plant-based diet.

Which leads me to a phone call I need to make. I don't at all like the food they are feeding my mother at rehab. Granted, she is eating it all, but that's because she has dementia. Pre-dementia, she would NEVER eat this stuff. Sugary desserts at both lunch and dinner. Lots of white bread, sugary drinks, stingy on the fruits and vegetables. The typical American diet. I bring her one of her favorites, nuts, whenever I visit, but that's not enough. Fresh fruit for dessert would be much better, for a start.

It galls me that a facility that should be dedicated to promoting a healthy diet is not doing so. When I was last there, some old ladies from some group were there for their monthly visit, distributing snacks to the rehab residents. Needless to say, it was more sugary treats...little cupcakes with a Halloween theme and matching napkins. I know they were trying to do something nice, but most people have no idea how harmful their diet is. Sugar accelerates aging at the cellular level, leads to obesity and diabetes, feeds candida, rots your teeth, raises your blood sugar and much worse. It just amazes me that so many people are so ignorant about something as basic and important as the food they eat.

It's 3:35 a.m. I suppose I should get back to bed. Good night....er, I mean, good morning!

Ogida

October 9th, 2015 at 11:34 am

Yesterday and today have been very trying. Actually, Wednesday was giving me ogida, too. I learned then that after my boss's boss left the company, they decided to do some "restructuring" and I will no longer be reporting to my boss in customer communications. I'll become part of the creative services team and report to someone new while doing more marketing copywriting. Yet, my priority will continue to be what I'm doing now, customer communications.

This is the part that doesn't make sense to me. So I'll be doing my performance reviews and getting evaluated by one person yet still doing the bulk of my work (85% or so) for someone else. So my workload will no doubt significantly increase. I do have a fair amount of free time and I must admit taking advantage of that to deal with my mother's affairs/healthcare matters, but I worry that I'll be flooded with more work than I can handle. I've certainly experienced that before, and it's not fun.

It's nice that I will be doing a combination of customer communications and marketing moving forward, broadening my horizons at the bank, so to speak, but the bottom line is they'll be heaping more work on me and not taking anything away that I'm doing now. So things may be about to change for the worse.

The person I'll be reporting to and the rest of my team of about 5 people are all up in our Massachusetts office. And they quickly invited me to spend one day next week up there to meet the team.

Except that this particular day is the date of another family meeting at Masonicare as it relates to my mother's progress. An occupational therapist, physical therapist, social worker, Maplewood rep, nurse, etc. I don't want to try to reschedule with all of them, it's too important a meeting; I need to come to a determination soon whether to keep paying $5200/mth for an empty room at Maplewood, where mom had been living before her fractured hip, or maybe keep her at Masonicare, possibly in THEIR assisted living community, which would have the advantage of guaranteeing her a spot in their nursing home should she later need it, or put her directly in their nursing home facility if she's not well enough to live in assisted living.

So I sent a brief note to my new boss and her boss, who had sent me the invite, explaining the situation simply but directly. Probably not the best way to start off a new relationship by saying you can't make their meeting (and unfortunately my new boss's boss sent out the invite to all the others on the team before I had a chance to respond that no, I can't make that day) but they're going to find out sooner or later so they may as well find out now; it may stifle some impulses they may have to get me up there on a frequent basis. Not happening. Reality check.

I really hate any meetings that I have up there. I usually have quarterly meetings up there and it's such a taxing day. I need to allow 3 hours to get up there and 3 hours to get back, and they usually expect you to get there around 9 a.m. I hate the drive. It's exhausting.

At least before I would drive up with others who rented a van, etc. Now I'll have to drive myself. To save themselves money, the company made a new rule that if you have a business trip that's over x number of miles, they won't reimburse you for gas unless you rent a car. Because I live alone, I have no one to drive me to or pick me up from the car rental place, which is about 15 minutes from here. The car rental place will do that, but sometimes you have to wait, so it just is one big pain in the butt. Especially on the ride home, when you are tired and just want to get home, you don't want to have to wait around for the car rental people to drive you home.

I don't think i would bother with the car rental and I would just spend my own money on the gas.

Yesterday I went to my lawyer's and signed all the paperwork. He made it very confusing because he showed me 2 different versions of the HUD statement as well as his own summary sheet. The numbers didn't match up. There was still a $1,000 discrepancy between what his numbers showed as my net and what the buyer's attorney's numbers showed. I have to trust that he's going to straighten that out. He was on the phone with his paralegal, etc. I felt stressed.

Saw my mother last night after that. She was doing okay but i could see that she was still sort of hyper and she wasn't really coherent. I think the meds were kicking in, but not completely. She was very happy to see me.

The closing is supposed to take place right now, around 2 p.m. But my lawyer is running late. I had asked him this morning if he could swing by my house today on his way in to the closing because I'd forgotten to give him some keys to the slider doors in lower level of mom's condo yesterday. He didn't come by to get them til 1:55 p.m. and his office is 20 minutes away. Sigh.

So I can't collect the money right after the closing as I thought I could. He will get a trustee's check and that will take several days to clear; then he can either overnight or hand deliver me a check mid next week, he said.

I decided i will open up an Ally online money market account, not a Sallie Mae account, since the Ally earns 1%, not .90%. Otherwise, they're identical. Limited to 6 withdrawals a month, so I'm not sure at this point if I'll close my mother's old checking account since keeping that open may be helpful if I'm inundated with medical bills that threaten to exceed the 6 withdrawals a month.

I did get on the phone with T. Rowe Price and they walked me through how to fill out the forms they sent me a full year ago to gain complete access to my mother's brokerage account. (I easily obtained access already simply by opening up an online account with my mother's information, but i also wanted to ensure I got all the tax forms at year end, which they would have snail mailed to her old address.)

As to the POA form, they will accept it if i get a medallion stamp on it, which i can get from my mother's bank this Saturday. But i have to send T. Rowe the original POA form, and my lawyer already has one "original" that must be sent to the city clerk to record the condo sale.

Luckily, I have a 2nd "original" POA form that I can send to T. Rowe so as not to waste time waiting for the return of the other original by the city clerk.

Do you see how all this stuff consumes so much of my time?

I am feeling anxious. Maybe I'll feel better if my attorney thinks to call me after the closing to confirm things went off without a hitch and to clear up that discrepancy in the numbers. Either way, I'll be netting about $129,000 when all is said and done.

It's a long three-day weekend coming up. I just am really looking forward to gaining some time back in my life to take a few walks and do things like clear up my veggie garden, continue trying to put things in order in my house, etc. And relax. Deep breaths and relax.

Mom's not doing well

October 7th, 2015 at 06:26 pm

Right after work I drove straight to Lowes to pick up 2 carbon monoxide detectors and a smoke detector for my mother's condo. There's a new law in CT that my realtor once again failed to mention, requiring the seller to make sure there are both of these detectors on every floor; if you don't provide them, you have to pay the buyer $250.

Because I only learned of this through the paralegal that is handling the closing (not the lawyer I thought I hired), i had 2 days to take care of this before the closing, which has beenset for this Friday.

So last night I was going to order these items cheaply at Walmart, but both walmart and Home Depot didn't have them in stock ready for pick-up tonight, which was essential, becus I'll have to sign an affidavit tomorrow saying these items have been installed. So i had to buy them for more $$ at Lowes.

I picked them up tonight and then went to condo where I plugged everything in, then came home and have been on the phone with Masonicare this evening.

My mother's not doing well at all, mentally. As the doctor described, her delirium is a function of a combination of events: the surgery, the anesthesia and her pre-existing dementia. He said they see it all the time.

The problem is that she's in a state of hyper-alertness, not sleeping at night, is very agitated and getting up and trying to walk around. Without consulting me, the doctor there prescribed an anti-convulsive drug which is also used to control the mania phase of manic depressive states. It's a very powerful drug with scary side effects and they say it can increase drowsiness, tremors, unsteadiness, all of which can lead to falls! Which we don't need any more of.

After the aide told me all this, i called her back and said do NOT give any more of this drug to my mother til the doctor calls me back.

Another doctor, a geriatric psychiatrist that I've spoken to before, called me back, and patiently spent about 30 minutes on the phone with me explaining the importance of using this drug, that the only other choice would be an anti-psychotic, which they don't like to use, that my mother's current state will not go away by itself, etc. He assured me he's treated hundreds of elderly people with this drug and that they used the very lowest dose with my mom, who weights all of 100 lbs or so.

So I caved, but feel so nervous. And I really have to steel myself to visit her again tomorrow; i haven't seen her since Sunday. I admit I skipped a visit because during the work week i can only see her at night, which is when the dementia is usually worse. It's also very unpredictable what state I'll find her in; sometimes she's her sweet and gentle self, albeit with dementia, and other times she's anxious and agitated and is very hard to appease.

The doctor said her dementia has reached a "new level" and her memory is at about 40% now. It kills me to have to see my mother like this and yet I have to try to offer some comfort to her. I can't abandon her to the rehab place and feel I have to watch everything they're doing. I like a number of the aides and I do like the Indian doctor I just mentioned above, but the speed at which everything is happening is dizzying. To think that just a month ago my mother was in pretty good shape, albeit with mild dementia. And 5 months prior to that, she was still living on her own. Now I can't imagine that possibility at all. So sad. Will the tears ever stop falling?

I ran into my mother's neighbors tonight when i was at her condo, and I told them i probably wouldn't be seeing them again for a while, and that the closing was Friday. I hugged her and thanked them both again. She said they were going to see her on Sunday. I think maybe I should warn her about my mother's current condition as it might be upsetting to them.

Tomorrow I sign all the paperwork related to the condo sale at my lawyer's office. Friday is the closing which I won't go to, but I do want to go pick up the check in person right afterwards and then deposit it, temporarily, in my mother's checking account. It's too big a check to entrust to the US mail.

I decided I would open a Sallie Mae online money market which is getting 0.90% with no minimum deposit requirements and no fees, and then wait for the fed to raise interest rates before probably putting a portion of the condo sale proceeds into a 6 month or at most 1-year CD. She already has about $100K still invested in various mutual funds, so I think that's enough stock market exposure for what are really very short term funds, since the money will be all spent in less than 3 years.

I started thinking of her brokerage account, with T Rowe Price, and am worrying that I may have to call them and see what hoops I have to jump through to manage my mother's money. Now I've been managing her T. Rowe money for some time now because I have all my mother's personal info and I simply set up an online account, which she hadn't had before, and so I've been transferring monies from those funds to pay the rent at Maplewood each month.

But the problem is, I think they use snail mail to mail tax forms at the end of the year, and I think the US Post Office will probably stop forwarding mail by that time. They only forward mail for 6 mths.

I had gotten some forms from T. Rowe a long time ago when I inquired about what i had to do, but there was no direction about how to complete them and it wasn't at all clear to me. They don't recognize Power of Attorney. At the time, I simply lacked time to spend on that particular project. I may have to tackle it now because once they get mailed returned to them as undeliverable, they might put some kind of hold on her brokerage funds if they suspect fraud. Oh, the complications.

Sunday Doings - Ramblings

October 4th, 2015 at 05:31 pm

Sorry I can't come up with a more imaginative title, but this post is all over the place....

Today's accomplishments:

Early this morning I brought in the plants from my unheated sunroom and put them in the sunniest room in my house, the southwest facing upstairs bathroom. Not a whole lot of room there, but we'll figure it out. Also took out from the sunroom other things for the winter.

I also cleared away art and other stuff in the family room so that when Make a Home Foundation comes next week for the couch, they can move it straight through the sunroom and outside. Yes, I'm actually giving my furniture away so I can make more room in here! Truth be told, I'd been wanting to get rid of that old couch anyway, but I don't plan to replace it right away becus the cats will just scratch it. And I DO need room for all this art til I have a chance to sell it....

What will I do at the end of October when I most likely will have to take back 31 unsold pieces of art from the spa show? I shudder to think about it. Because I'll essentially be losing all the room in my family room, which I leave unheated all winter as I can close it off and have it on separate heat system. Not sure that would be the best place to store art. Or maybe the heat and humidity is far worse? Don't really know.

So while I'm still tripping over things (art) in the living room and family room, and it will get worse soon, I did tidy up my dining room, where all the yarns are. The dining room is looking MUCH better because I've been slowly selling it and now I can actually see that it's a dining room again. Also, when my handyman and I unloaded the final things of my mother's at my house yesterday, I decided to put the sewing machine cabinet in the dining room and quickly filled its drawers with stuff.

Around 10:30 am, visited with mom for an hour-and-a-half. I pushed her around in her wheelchair up and down the halls, looking at the art, and the big goldfish aquarium. We found one spot in all the hallways that had sunlight beaming through the door, so I pushed my mother right up to the door and lingered there for a while so she could get some Vit. D on her face and hands. So important. Her diet at the rehab place includes white bread, sugary drinks, and other things my mother would NEVER have eaten when she was sane. Now, with dementia, she loves it all. I bring in nuts for her to eat, always a favorite of hers, as they are mine. Another brain food.

I brought her into the dining room for lunch and we sat at a table with an elderly man who clearly did not have dementia. My mother was talking, but she was making no sense, but he was hard of hearing, so between the 2 of them, maybe they enjoyed the rest of their lunch. Sadly, he said he had no family left, and "this is my home, now," he added.

It must be very lonely to live among people who really don't know you, the kind of person you once were or the life you once led.

I finally got around to bringing in a photo of my mother when she was 30 years younger. I left it so the aides who work with her see her as a real person with a real past, not just a troublesome old lady.

After leaving Masonicare, I headed west and stopped in at Maplewood, the assisted living place. I figured I would drop off some warm turtlenecks in anticipation of the day my mother returns there. I took away the summer tops. I spent some time tidying up her room, and I decided to take home the ailing jade plant that my cousin brought her. It was ailing because it was planted in a strange large open shell mounted on a slab of granite, and had at most an inch of soil to cling to.

I'm resigned to the fact that even if my mother stays at rehab longer than anticipated, there's absolutely nothing I can or will do about continuing to pay for her vacant room at Maplewood. I mean, there's nowhere else to bring her, except another assisted living place which will be just as expensive, or a nursing home, which I won't put her in for as long as I'm able to pay for something better.

So if I have to throw away $10,600 to $15,900 for, say 2 or 3 months while she's at rehab (Maplewood is "only" charging $5300/mth which doesn't include the med mgmt of $400/mth since she's not there), nothing I can do about that. We're pretty much stuck. I don't think it will be quite that long, but she was admitted Sept. 12 so it has been 3 weeks already. I'm guessing as long as 2 months but hopefully not beyond that.

Had a talk with my closing attorney. Still hoping it will happen next week. I'll be able to stop the outflow of monies for condo overhead costs, just in time for all of the medical bills to start coming in from my mother's surgery. Well, probably not but one can never be too sure. Medicare should pick up all of it, I'm told, and the rehab too, for at least the 1st 3 weeks.

After finishing up at Maplewood, I headed to the condo, for what will likely be the very last time. When I was there Saturday with handyman moving the final pieces of furniture out, I'd forgotten a small step ladder which I could use in my garage (i now have 3) and I also hadn't had a chance to spackle all the little holes in the wall from shelving and other items pulled out, so I did that.

I looked around at this now completely empty condo where my mother enjoyed 15 of the most productive years of her artistic career. I thought of all the Christmas gatherings we had there, the Thanksgiving dinners, Easter and all our birthdays. It was hard to close the door on all that, and I cried on the drive home. I cried because I know the lifestyle my mother had here is something she'll never have again. Crying is something I do a lot of these days. I know it's part of the process of grieving, and so I don't try to hold back. I just let it happen and no one, except you, now, knows that I do.

From the condo I went on to BJs and spent over $100, enough to finally meet my $3,000 charging goal on my Citi Thank You Premier Card. As soon as i get the points, I'll order $500 in gift cards.

I could use them for Christmas, but I'm really not sure what Christmas will be like this year. I haven't spoken to my sister and I am still so very angry with her. I'm not sure I ever want to talk to her again. I feel what she's done, or more specifically, what she's not done, has caused too big a rift between us. I don't know that I can forgive her. She's never even tried to talk to me about anything. No explanations, no nothing. Could someone care any less???

I could buy some small things for my mother, but nothing too expensive as the price won't really matter. My dad has never exchanged gifts with us because we didn't often see each other on the holiday, though this year is different since he's living up here now in Connecticut.

Anyway, back to my Sunday. Brought all the groceries home and decided while there was still sunlight I should go outside and try to do something about the large mulch pile in my driveway. Don't really want it sitting there all winter as it will be in the way, but I don't have time to weed, which i need to do before mulching.

I shoveled some in a small trash can, anyway. Then I began trying to plant the HUNDRED or so small bulbs I'd dug up before the masons rebuilt my front walkway back in June. I planted many in pots and don't know if they'll survive since some were small and some were larger, like tulip bulbs, and i just mixed them all in together, but at different depths. So I have like 6 large pots of bulbs now in the back of the garage.

Replenished the hummer water but saw that the old sugar water was seemingly untouched. No doubt they have already left for southern destinations and I really do hope they didn't run into all the hurricane weather in the Carolinas. I refilled the feeder one last time anyway, as I always do, just to be sure any stragglers have something to feed on. They'll need all the energy they can get for the long flight.

I also switched out some summer clothes with winter clothes, basically taking some and moving to another closet. I do this every year.

I also changed the bedsheets.

Tonight I was finally going to teach myself how to use the Jumbl slide scanner I bought on Amazon for $99 over a month ago (?) after someone here told me there was such a thing (to convert old slides or film negatives to digital images) but I realized I have to wait til I get the memory card for it (which I just ordered tonight). Once I get the hang of it, this will be a somewhat mindless task that will take quite some time as my mother had thousands of slides of all her art, each with its own name which I will want to chronicle before feeling able to throw away the slides. But I WANT dispose of those slides becus like everything else, they're taking up space in my house and I NEED to make some order in here. Right now there are boxes sitting in the basement, simply becus THERE'S NOWHERE ELSE TO PUT THEM.

I've been living with mom's stuff EVERYWHERE since May..hard to believe as I do NOT like clutter at all.

Oh, when I was carrying a fairly heavy headboard down my mother's double flight of stairs with the handyman yesterday, I managed to wrench my knee pretty bad. It was my bad knee. Amazingly, it felt fine today.

The move with handyman didn't take too long, as we just had that headboard, the bed and the sewing machine cabinet, plus he trashed the particleboard cabinet so we could just put it in the dumpster. But it was a cold and wet day and it was drizzling out. He was coming down with a cold. We unloaded at my house and then unloaded the mattress/boxspring for recycling at the landfill. Yes, they recycle them now.

I paid him $60, which I knew was more than I needed to pay him (his rate is $25/hour) but i figured he'd earned it. And I noticed he never cashed a $35 check I wrote him months ago. I'm guessing he misplaced the check, or maybe he chose not to cash it because he tried to refuse payment from me more than once when helping me with my mother's stuff.

He's a nice guy, about 5 years younger than me, but I'm fairly certain most people get the wrong impression about him based on his appearance. His favorite color is black, and that's all I've seen him wear. His hair is longer than mine and he wears it in a ponytail. He used to ride a motorcycle until years ago he was in a very bad accident with his young daughter (divorced) sitting behind him. He broke a lot of bones in his body. He gave up the motorcycle and used the $$ from the settlement as a down payment on the very small, 400-sq-foot cottage he'd been renting. But for many years he struggled each winter when work slowed down; at one point he thought he was going to lose his house becus he couldn't pay the property taxes on it. Now he's overloaded with work, and he's trying to finish redoing his bathroom. I'm happy for him because I think the reason why he's always struggling financially is lack of self-esteem.

Meaning, he doesn't charge enough money for his work because I don't think he thinks he's good enough. $25/hr is very cheap, and he does just about everything, electrical, plumbing, carpentry tilework, etc. But he's not licensed.

His brother, on the other hand, does gutter work, and he didn't hesitate to charge me $125 when I noticed weeds growing out of my gutter, due to blocked gutter. He was here less than an hour.

Anyway, after moving just a few items, handyman dropped me off home and I just felt pooped the rest of the day. Don't know why, but I did.

Is anyone doing their own "no heat" challenge? I'm not. I figure heating oil is so cheap this year and I don't feel like living in a freezing cold house. So my heat is on.

Although the stock market is really messing up my retirement savings plan, I did notice with some satisfaction that I've already accumulated $28,000 in my 401k since becoming eligible for it in July 2014. It's a Roth 401k, so I will never pay taxes on this money again. I'm trying to even out the imbalance between my traditional IRA monies, which I saved for a much long period of time, and my Roth IRAs and 401k, which represents a much smaller nugget.

How long?

October 1st, 2015 at 04:41 pm

How long will Americans tolerate the carnage and devastation left in the wake of mass shootings? Kudos to President Obama for making an appeal-- once again -- for commonsense gun control.

Having seen first hand the horrific aftermath of the Newtown shootings, it's abundantly clear a different approach is needed to prevent the next senseless loss of life. And the answer is not "more guns."

Somewhere in an Oregon hospital, daughters and sons are struggling to survive. Are your 2nd amendment rights more important than their lives?

Problematic onsale sales

October 1st, 2015 at 05:50 am

Inevitably, if you sell stuff long enough online, you run into one or two troublesome buyers.

I sold a slipper chair for a great price, $25, to a local realtor online in a Facebook group 2 weeks ago. I think I paid about $150 for it at Home Decorators a good many years ago. I took an immediate dislike to the color and fabric when it arrived on my doorstep, but it was too much of a hassle to return it at the time, so I kept it all these years; it's never really been sat on by anyone.

When I asked the realtor if she wanted to know the dimensions or anything else, she said no, it was "perfect" and that she "absolutely wanted" the chair. I told her if she paid me, via Paypal, that I would hold it for her til she picked up. So she paid me. I told her she could pick up on my 2 weekday work-at-home days, or on the weekend, anytime. She has yet to get it together to do so and it's been 2 weeks.

First, she was sick, then she was still sick on the next day we scheduled, yada yada yada. We went back and forth each week but she was either busy or still sick. When she couldn't make it, she suggested I refund her the money and try to sell it to someone else unless i could wait a bit longer. I said I would wait a bit longer. Today I asked her again to please pick up the chair and now she's putting me off til Saturday. I tried to pin her down to a time on Saturday as I have things to do too, but she never responded.

I have no confidence she'll actually pick it up then, and I was annoyed when she conveniently disappeared when I tried to get her to agree to a specific time on Saturday. So after initially telling her Saturday was fine, I decided to just refund her the money via Paypal.

I mean, you would think that if you really wanted an item, you would make the time to get it at some point over 2 weeks. I tried to be patient, but when I sell something online, I expect that the buyer will come get the item in a reasonable amount of time, and I think 2 weeks is plenty of time to do so.

Totally annoyed to do this, and I actually don't think I was obligated to refund her money simply because she couldn't get her act together to pick up the chair. I marked the post as "Sold" when I received her payment.

HOWEVER, after she said she wanted it, I had pulled the chair out from the corner where it sat. I noticed a small mark right on the seat in a visible location. I wondered if it might be cat spit-up. It was clear, but it was a mark. So I took a paper towel dampened only by water, and rubbed it. When it dried, there was an equally noticeable mark on the fabric. I couldn't believe it and I was very upset. Not a stain, but I think the chenille-type fabric was so cheap/thin that when I rubbed it, it rubbed off some of the surface bumps on the fabric, if you know what chenille looks like.

I was feeling very apprehensive about how the woman who bought the chair might react when she saw it. She had said she "absolutely wanted" the chair and paid for it in advance, but upon seeing this mark, she might get upset and I don't have the stomach to deal with that. You can't see any kind of mark in the photo I posted on Facebook, so for that reason I felt it would be wrong of me to insist she take it.

So after refunding the payment of the realtor woman, I reached out to 2 others who had expressed interest in the chair 2 weeks ago. I guess I feel more comfortable having someone else come over to look at it and then buy the chair only after they've seen it and are presumably ok with the mark. Not sure how others might react. If neither of the 2 says they're still interested, I'm inclined to just donate this when the Make a Home people come to pick up my couch in 2 weeks. It was only $25.

In the meantime, my house is absolutely jam-packed with stuff here, due to having my mother's stuff here, and in fact that was the reason I decided to sell both this chair, which I never liked, and my old couch. It would make more room to store my mother's art and yarns until I have time to sell it.

UPDATE: Another woman who had said she was interested 2 weeks ago came by today, paid cash and took it away. Hooray. Smile

In the meantime, the original buyer no doubt saw I had refunded her payment and then sent me a note saying her contractor cancelled some work today and could she come by in an hour to pick it up. NOT. I'm done with you.