I cried all the way from home to town on Saturday night. It was 9.8 miles of tears and denial. I am not ready to face the fact that my grandmother is getting “old” and she’s 87. Her health is in decline and the fact of the matter is, she’s facing a nursing home. When a person stops eating and has become (and I hate this expression) “dead weight”, requiring a wheelchair, it’s apparent that something is wrong.
This is the woman that did walks, rode motorcycles, went camping, and puttered in her flower gardens of purposely planted weeds. Until two years ago. And I’d like to place blame on the family members that told her “you’re getting old and going to die soon”. Given the opportunity, and my penchant for saying exactly what I’m thinking, it might happen.
I don’t want to face the mortality of my grandparents. I was close with my great-grandmother, and she passed when I was thirteen. It was so long ago that now, it seems like it happened to someone else. When I think about her, it feels like I’m thinking of another person’s experiences. But I suppose I am. I am no longer the teenager “me” and in all that is normal it is also a bit saddening.
If I flip the digits, the “3” and the “1” in 13, I am my current age. I am 31. Although my grandmother isn’t facing her deathbed, it is glaringly obvious to me that she is no longer young. She has reached a stage of not knowing who my parents are, and she is seeing things that aren’t there. (I do that, but it’s called imagination. When older adults do it, it’s called dementia.)
I spent a good chunk of my afternoon yesterday reviewing the percentage of coverage for Medicare and reintroduced phrases like “gap coverage” and “co-insurance” into my vocabulary. When I started teaching I thought, hoped is a more accurate term, to forget that knowledge and leave it in the recesses of my mind. Come to find out, you don’t forget that Medicare covers at a rate of 80/20 and the deductible is roughly $166.
I looked at residential care facilities near my grandparents’ home and found abysmal results. One had twelve reported “incidents” to Medicare last year. Another had eight. One’s most recent health department inspection was in 2015! What the hell! People live there. Families depend on them to care for people like my grandmother. Those are our loved ones! I’m sure that this is some sort of righteous outrage on my part, but I can’t help it.
I’m sad that I live about 150 miles from my grandparents. I hand wrote my grandfather a letter today, totally four pages, explaining what to look for and how to question Medicare and Blue Cross about their coverage. The trust I have in those closest to him in miles is dismal (at best). I wish this wasn’t happening. I wish my grandfather didn’t have to choose to put his wife of nearly sixty years into a care facility.
I wish I didn’t have a fear of nursing homes. I wish they didn’t make me panic and cry, even when I’m not already overly emotional. I wish my other “family” members didn’t plant the seed of death in my grandmother’s head. I wish that those physically closest to him weren’t two of the most self-serving individuals on the planet. I wish this wasn’t “normal”.
Most of all, I wish I could bill Medicare for this. For all of it. For me, my parents, and my grandfather. But that, my friends, isn’t covered under part “A” or “B”. That, is the co-insurance. Our out of pocket expense.