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Can I care for my mom? How do I figure it out?

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  • Can I care for my mom? How do I figure it out?

    My mom is 70 and has had some minor strokes, complicated by a spinal hematoma and then back surgery to remove that, which has given her a T11 spinal cord injury. We were hopeful that she would be able to go to a spinal cord rehab center. She did go to the LTAC at a recommended rehab center but after a stay of around 5 weeks there, she did not qualify for their acute rehab and was just discharged to a skilled nursing facility this weekend for a Medicare stay with further speech, PT, and OT.

    Her surgical back wound opened up, and she is currently on a wound vac to heal it. She additionally is on a feeding tube and has an ileostomy as a result of complications during all this. She speaks with difficulty, but cognitively she is fine. She is terribly weak and dependent right now. She does have use of her upper extremities and is able to apply makeup, comb her hair, etc.

    The nursing home is very nice and is 3 minutes from my house, so in 2 days I've already been there a dozen times. However, I can't stand the idea of her being there long term. My husband and I are talking about bringing her to live with us. My mom has money, and I feel like considering the private pay cost she will be paying the nursing home, we could get help and she can live with us. I also believe she would qualify for some Medicare-paid home health. I work at home, so I would be available to offer some help during the day. Her therapists are pretty positive about her rehab potential, but it is extremely slow going.

    How do we figure out just how much help she would need, what home health services Medicare would cover, etc? Can "regular people" with no real medical background learn to help care for these issues?

    Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.

  • #2
    It is great that you are considering taking on your mother's care. It is a big commitment though. While it sounds like you could take her into a home setting, it will be more care than you by yourself could really provide. You say she has money, so could you also consider hiring part-time help? I would not depend on getting much help from Medicare for anything but her wound care, and that would be short term. Most of her needs would appear to be what Medicare considers "maintenance" and non-skilled nursing care, so would not qualify for in-home payment. The same would go for any therapy. In addition, unless she is "homebound" by Medicare definition, even the skilled care may not be available.

    This isn't to say that it can't be done, but you do need to know what you are getting into. Take the time now to learn as much of her care as you can, and try doing as much of it as you can to help you gauge how much you can really handle. Speak to the case manager or social worker at the nursing home to see if any home health would be approved, and if so, how much and for how long.

    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


    • #3
      Thank you for the reply. That is very helpful. I didn't realize Medicare would provide so little--I thought we could count on them to do a little more, maybe continue PT and other therapy.

      We would plan on hiring help, though it looks like more than I had thought based on the Medicare not providing as much. The nursing home charges $315/day, of which my mom would be private pay for at least a few years. I am hopeful to be able to come up with the help she would need for less than that and keep her living with us. I will do as you suggest and go from there.