If I may summarize the last eight months or so, as regards my mother:
Calling around among web resources for senior care in Bangor, I made a contact in late August with someone at EMHS (http://www.emhs.org
), who very kindly agreed to act as an advocate for my mother's case. She did some magic, and suddenly my mother had an appointment lined up with a geriatric-psychology specialist at Acadia Hospital.
The next six weeks proved very busy for me, in this regard. All these things occurred, and not necessarily in this order:
• I traveled a lot between Boston and Bangor. I stopped using rental cars, instead riding a Concord bus between the cities, and commandeering the family SUV (the existence of which is a story unto itself, and for another time) while in Bangor.
• It took the psychologist about 20 minutes of conversation with her to conclude that Dorothy had Alzheimer's, stating that he didn't feel a brain-scan was necessary. I agreed. This began a regimen of monthly appointments which she continues through today; while I oversaw her first few, Ricky has been accompanying her since October.
• I did apply for the veterans' pension, and then immediately acted to disregard it. Its total amount is a pittance, especially when held against my mother's monthly cost of care, and beyond that I was told it would take a year to process. The work had been completed, so we sent it along, but then I moved on to seek other help.
• I admitted to my mother's lawyer, John Nale of Waterville, that I had chosen poorly in not seeking MaineCare -- Maine-branded Medicaid, essentially -- sooner, initially thinking it a waste of time and effort; I'd last examined it while my father was still alive, and the stresses were different then. I paid him the flat fee his office requested to take care of all my mother's legal needs for the rest of her life -- an amount that conveniently matched the remainder of her bank account, after dad's life-insurance payout -- and by god the Nale Law office flew into action.
I worked with a paralegal who stuck to my mother's case for months. I set up a shared Dropbox and stuffed it with all the documentation she requested, which took me weeks of full-time work and research, She transformed this into a petition to MaineCare, which she pushed at until it went through -- and then she kept pushing until it retroactively applied itself to cover the whole winter.
• I spent a week in Bangor at the end of September to pursue a number of errands, including winterizing the house (which, yes, did not sell during 2013). Given my change in direction regarding MaineCare, I spent some time rolling around looking at the handful of secure Alzheimer's facilities that accept MaineCare. In a bout of astounding luck, I found a one named Woodlands Senior Living of Brewer that not only was an honestly beautiful space -- they were happy to give me a tour -- but it had a room available. I called or visited other places that were gross and depressing, or full-up, or didn't accept MaineCare. To find a single case that met all three criteria (or avoided all three anti-criteria, I suppose) seemed miraculous. I immediately started to apply for my mother's residence at Woodlands.
The next day, Winterberry busted my mom for running away again. When they called to tell me that they'd checked her into a hospital and needed my advice on what to do next with her, I said "You have called at an interesting time." We arranged to transfer her from the hospital into the Alzheimer's facility, and it all worked. This was hair-whiteningly expensive for a short time -- private-pay rent there is nearly $8,000 per month -- but MaineCare kicked in presently.
And after all that I took the winter off, more or less. I dove back into work, and just swallowed the $1,200 / month in additional costs that maintaining the house and the car cost, figuring that when the snow melted I'd get back to work on getting rid of that stuff.
So that brings us to now. I am moved to update this journal, which has effectively become the journal of the period of my life I sometimes call "The Troubles" and sometimes call "The Festivities", because I am sitting on a bed in the Bangor Howard Johnson's hotel for the first time in six months. We're having an open house this coming weekend, and I feel hopeful about that, but that's not why I'm here.
I'm here because I had to bail out Peter, my middle-brother, who needed a lot of intense help in finding an apartment. He has to move immediately because he lost the qualification that allowed him to live in the low-income housing facility he and his wife have occupied for the last 12 years, because his wife recently moved out, into hospice care. Peter quit working over two years ago to care for his invalid wife full-time, sharing her disability income between them -- but tragically that source will end soon, and his legal ability to continue living in that apartment ends on May 1. Crushed at losing his wife, he vaguely planned on becoming homeless.
So I got back on the bus and found him an apartment yesterday; Ricky's gonna help him move into it tomorrow. And now I have to help him find a job in May so that he can start paying his rent by himself. I will share the letter I wrote to his social worker in my next post.