Thursday, August 18, 2011

Final How-Tos for Caregiving Families

This post is in the nature of a public service, and please feel free to forward to any family members or friends you think it will help. I've learned a lot in the last couple of weeks, and yet more happened this morning. But this might help other people the dismay, wild surmise and other such emotions that have been surging regularly through my poor old frame.

About finding new homes for equipment: people not in this situation may not realize that if you have US Medicare and have had equipment prescribed, you pay a rental while Medicare picks up the bulk of the cost, for 13 months, after which the equipment is considered yours to keep if you continue to need it. This is nice until you no longer need it and have to find a destination for it. This is why we were left with large equipment and stuck for how to dispose of it in a way that made it useful again.

I found that the nonprofit here which is always suggested as a good place is actually a good place to buy from very cheaply, if you don't have insurance coverage, and a lot of people don't,and is a good place to give to if you can get the items to them. But it is hopeless if you can't do the trans. yourself, and not very happy about being asked.

In the middle of writing this post, that agency rep. called, very nice woman, offering a pickup at the end of August. I explained to her what had happened, she was very upset to hear it,and I did explain that I had found new places for all the items, and suggested a refresher for all personnel that when someone says there was a death the previous day, to say something like "I'm sorry for your loss". Anything rather than "Oh. Well, what do you have to give us?" that I got. She is determined that will not happen again, so that's fine.

The next agency suggested was very nice, but amazed that I needed them to pick up, but promised to check into it and get back to me. Has not done so. So, we move along.

I used Freecycle to move the hospital bed, and had in less than a day, four different parties who were in need of it were in touch. It left, thanks to the brother of a friend who used his truck and his colleague to move not only the bed but the great big very expensive excellent airflow mattress to use on it, and took it right to the old couple who needed it.

Freecycle was how I found great new homes for HP's clothes, and made new friends in the process. And Freecycle again was how I passed on all the diapers, pads, masses of supplies, because in this situation you buy by the caselot, and they went to the family of an old lady who were tearfully grateful for them. This stuff is never covered by insurance as far as I can tell, and is a continual drain on resources. I received a lot of this kind of supply via Freecycle back when our saga started, and was determined to repay when my turn came.

Then the catheter supplies, much too delicate an issue for the boards of Freecycle, and the nurse who promised to pick them up never did, I had to think again. I had a rush of brains to the head and called the people where I'd bought them, who before I finished explaining, even, said, no problem, ship them right back and we'll credit your card.

This was substantial money, in the hundreds of dollars, again an expense not covered by any insurance, and a great relief to have them back in possible use and not be out of pocket. That's a possibility that literally nobody had suggested to me, so it's worth knowing, might be a help.

And just this morning, of all times when I paid the surrogate officer to process the will, etc., I found that my checks are now void because the bank had insisted on imprinting them with the POA (Power of Attorney) of HP as well as the other info. I knew his checks would be void, but had no idea that my own would need to be reissued without the POA or they could not accept them. And since I drove over half an hour to get to their office, it would have been good to know this. They didn't notice till I got home.

But here's the new learning, too: these offices, funeral homes, surrogate's office, various official agencies, always instruct you to bring a check. But when you get there you often find you can use a credit card. No need to sweat the check after all. I gave the surrogate officer my credit card number when she called me, and she processed it right away. But they do give the impression that only a paper check will be accepted. Not so.

And I have learned always to ask if there will be documents the next of kin must sign, in case you are not the NOK, which I was not, not being married to HP. At least not when he died. Years before, yes. And if you have the same last name as the departed, LOUDLY insist they listen when you say you are NOT the surviving spouse, rather than just say it, as I did, expecting them to hear and understand, to avoid the knots they tied me into.

And arrange to have the NOK come along if they need to sign. All sounds obvious, but it isn't when they tell you you can sign then snatch back the papers at the last minute saying, oh, being executor and sole legatee and signer of the living will, and payer of the funds from your own account, none of that is enough for this document.

So out of this difficult learning process for us, maybe it will be smoothed a bit for other people. Please share, letting them know that this happened in NJ, in the US, so that they can adjust to where they live.

Okay, folks and I leave you with a bit of black humor that has had me rolling ever since I heard it, even among being ready to throttle the dolt Frank, as one of my friends referred to him: in the course of our meeting I explained about the POA and every time he referred back to it, he called it the DOA. Well, folks, what kind of a funeral home would have clients who were not DOA?? I ask you...even the worst day has something funny about it!


  1. Perish the thought of arriving at the funeral home and not being DOA. I suppose it does happen somewhere in the world sometime. Scary thought.

    I hope your beaurocratic nightmare is now over. I think these agencies just expect everybody to "know" what they do as part of their job. Such is life.

  2. This is practical advice. Write a book? Share with all those agencies to try and make them aware they are dealing with human beings not pieces of paper. Actually it sounds like a service that could be offered by knowlegeable independant provider upon request, relieving the bereaved of unneccessary stress. I was going to say via the funeral directors but then thought of Dolt Frank!
    Job opportunity for someone?

  3. Now I'm sitting here with a mental picture of some poor soul, NOT doa...sitting up and scaring the living daylights out of the funeral folks. Yeah, I have a warped sense of humour too! When my dad passed away last fall I also had a hard time getting rid of (in a responsible way) a lot of the medical supplies. I lucked out and found that the local food bank was very grateful to take the adult diapers and also the meal replacement drinks (provided they weren't outdated). That was a huge bonus.

  4. Very instructive, and very helpful. Thank you!


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