Complete family medical situation hitting proverbial poop fan...
January 11, 2017 4:28 AM   Subscribe

Where do we turn? Things have gone bazonkers on us... Two weeks ago my 83 year old mom called me with a racing heart. In to the e.r. we went and she was diagnosed with tachycardia caused by heart failure - blown mitral valve. She's too frail for surgery so they medicated as best as possible and sent her home, where she has lived alone for decades. There are just my sister 1000 miles away and myself to help her. We arranged home help, PT and OT for her. She was told not move without a walker. Next day I fell off a ladder...

I won't get into how, but rest assured I was pretty stupid. I have three broken ribs, a punctured lung and a shattered shoulder blade. I'm on day 4 in hospital. My lung is coming around and my pain is managed. Probably (hope) go home tomorrow pm or next day. Another roller coaster.

Today mom fell. Sans walker. The worker called 911 and she's back in e.r. I know it appears oddly symmetrical, but she has broken ribs - and fluid in lungs probably retained from before.

I cannot visit or help. My sis is back home and cannot run this way just yet. My wife has a job and is trying to help me. We have an md worker helping at the other hospital--- someone we barely kno.

Frankly as I sit here in hospital I'm tapped out with the worst injury I've ever sustained. I have no idea where to turn / what to do.

Any advice, ideas, experiences etc to relate would be most appreciated. Thank you.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The next time your nurse comes in to do their stuff they do, tell them you need to speak with the hospital social worker. One of their jobs is to figure this kind of thing out when a hospitalized person is a caretaker for someone else.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:32 AM on January 11, 2017 [55 favorites]

Can you share your general location?
posted by InkaLomax at 4:37 AM on January 11, 2017

Nthing hospital social worker chat. They do care coordination all the time. If you meet one you don't click with, or want more ideas, there may be other local resources for advice/ support. If you're in the US some options might be through your local United Way/211, a faith community, or even through employee assistance benefits if you or your spouse have them. Good luck!
posted by ShadePlant at 4:41 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another vote for the social worker chat - this is what they are there for, and they can lead you to resources.

When my grandmother was released from the hospital, but wasn't ready to go home yet, they sent her to a rehab facility - basically the level of care (or more) than an assisted living place, they gave medications, had a physical therapist, assisted with bathing, had meals, etc. It was, to the best of my knowledge, covered by her health insurance for a certain amount of time.
posted by needlegrrl at 5:15 AM on January 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yes, if you can, please share a location. Also, are there financial constraints?

A family friend went here for recovery from an illlness under similar circumstances to your mother (it is in NJ). She was not a resident of the associated retirement community at the time.
posted by gudrun at 5:18 AM on January 11, 2017

In addition to speaking to a social worker about getting essential needs taken care of - are there any neighbours or friends you could ask to check in on her?
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:52 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is moving your mom into a retirement community possible? The care and assistance provided has been incredibly helpful for my aging mother.
posted by Cranialtorque at 6:54 AM on January 11, 2017

Do you have any local friends who might conceivably have spare time/energy to devote to checking on your mom's care? youre well beyond what it would take for me to drop pretty much anything and help out a friend. if folks cant help, that's okay, but I think you have to ask (like, if not now, when?)
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:11 AM on January 11, 2017

If you're in the US, Medicare will cover a rehab hospital for your mother. The social worker will be able to hook her up. There's a limit on days, however. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to you both!
posted by carmicha at 7:22 AM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yes, social worker; yes, rehab center. Your mother is not in position to be living alone right now any more than you are. Likely she cannot afford 24/7 live-in care (nor do you want it for her, really. Those are the situations where people get taken advantage of). A rehab center is her best bet.
posted by vignettist at 7:46 AM on January 11, 2017

Your mother is no longer able to live alone, and this is probably for good. I know you're flailing just to cover the right-nows, but that is the bigger picture, so you want to be careful not to waste resources on short-term care that presumes she will go home (though it is pretty typical after a fall like this to go to rehab first and let rehab give you guidance on what kind of care facility she's going to need in the medium term).

I don't know if your sister is not able to help, but someone needs to speak to the social worker at your mom's hospital, and you are sort of tied up right now (though I'm sure you're wanting to stay in the loop). Though the social worker at your hospital may be able to help organize those conversations.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:10 AM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

How is your wife's relationship with your mother? Obviously, you are her first priority, but I get the impression that knowing that someone is coordinating getting your mother taken care will be very helpful for you as you focus on your own recovery.

Maybe it might be better for your wife to direct some of her energy towards working with your mother's social worker to figure out the short-to-medium term arrangements for your mom (hopefully she can be placed in a rehab facility for at least a couple of weeks, which might give your sister enough time to show up to pick up some slack). That way, you can focus on putting your own life mask on.

Best of luck to you, Anon, this sounds very overwhelming.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:21 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another thing re: help for your Mom. In the US you can tell providers things but generally they can't say much back re: protected health information. So you or your wife could speak to a social worker at the facility where your Mom is (via phone if needed) and share all of your concerns so the social worker can get things rolling. They just might not be able to explain how they are following up without your Mom signing a relase of information.
posted by ShadePlant at 9:15 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

You need to make it clear to the social workers at your mom's hospital that she has no available caretaker for at least the next few weeks and that she will need to go somewhere other than home when she is discharged, at least for a while. Truthfully, with a bounce-back admission like the one she had (fall at home after a recent hospital stsay) it would basically be presumed by her admitting team that she is not safe to be at home and that she would need to go somewhere else on discharge. I'm sure you won't have any trouble getting them to recommend a rehab stay as long as your mom agrees to this plan. If she won't agree, then that presents a problem, but perhaps she would be amenable to the idea of going to a rehab for a few weeks to allow you to recover the ability to help her.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 12:21 PM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

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