Friday, March 9, 2018

My Aunt's Brain Bleed

I haven't been around much. Not much blogging going on around here. Sorry about that. Blogging to a back seat to life. Let me explain.

A bit of history... My biological father has 5 sisters. All of them have "B" names. Barb, Betty, Bonnie, Becky, and Bethany. When the girls and I moved to Minnesota back in 1998 we lived with her for several months and then spent many holidays together. She was probably my closest extended relative because I'd never gotten to know any others growing up.

On New Year's Day, I spoke to my aunt on the phone. She told me she was in the hospital because she was dehydrated. I check in with her by phone a couple of days later, but she didn't answer. I called again the next day, and still no answer. I headed to facebook to see who I could reach out to because I had NO numbers to call or people to ask who knew her.

I finally got hold of my aunt's best friend from college who has remained her best friend. She told me my aunt had been medi-vaced from Wisconsin to Minnesota and she was in the hospital. None of us will ever really know what happened, but some point between the night she was released to the next morning, she probably fell, hit her head, and ended up with a brain bleed - a type of stroke. It's been mentioned that maybe something with her pacemaker might've been the start of it all.

So, she was in the hospital for a week or so then released to a rehab so she could start to recover. I think within a week she was back in the hospital, possibly because of an infection. Again, we're not really sure. She was released to a different rehab which is where she's at currently.

This has been an incredibly hard time for the family. She's the first aunt who has had major health issues. She has never been married or had children. That part has been difficult as well because when her point of contact (POC) lives in another state and isn't able to communicate well or often, other family isn't helping, and the person who's in charge of her finances having stuff going on, it leaves other people taking care of things they "shouldn't" be. My daughter, my aunt's great niece, took on a lot more than she should've.

After my aunt was released to the 2nd rehab, I went out to Minnesota. I had wanted to go out in January and the beginning of February, but was counseled to wait. When I got out there, I really didn't want to leave her. I feel a responsibility to her that I didn't expect. I visited her every day and I have now become the POC, and I'm thankful for that role. In a month she'll be moving to assisted living. I'm not sure if I'll be going back out, but if she needs me to, I will.

This has been a HUGE wakeup call to me. I have life insurance and I have a will. I don't have long term care insurance, and I think it's vital that we get started on that or at least learning about it. My aunt has it so hopefully we'll figure out how that works for her.

What have I learned? You have SERIOUSLY got to think of who will be making decisions for you if you can't do it yourself. My aunt was 100% on board with me becoming her POC. It was never something we talked about before. My daughter asked me if I knew what her financial situation was. I had no clue. Why would I? How do you bring up with your aunt who you see every few months, "Hey, Aunt Becky, how are you doing the cash department? Got all of your affairs in order?" I don't know how you do it, but it needs to be done.

My aunt is physically able to get around, she can talk just fine, and she's working on her fine motor skills again, but she's got a long road ahead of her. She has a hard time writing. She won't make any important decisions for herself, but will make small ones. My aunt is one smart cookie. She couldn't remember if she was DNR. She refused to sign any papers before she knew for sure. She was presented with a form about paying a small fee to have a single room, but because finances were involved, she refused to sign. She would ask me first and I would find out the answer.

Things happen VERY quickly.  More quickly than you'd expect. She was in rehab for a week and a half before they were talking about her having to leave and go to assisted living. When we heard about it, we were told her therapies would be ending the next week. Well, they moved her to a different floor the NEXT day! She was still having her therapies done, but on a different floor. You've got to realize that you have to be available and ready for anything.

Something that has really impacted my aunt is anxiety. She gets confused very quickly and her anxiety skyrockets. What has helped us is when we learn of something new, I talk to her about what her options are, that the options she hopes for might not be possible, and what we'll do if the options don't pan out. For her, as long as she knows she's got people on her side who have her best interests in mind, she's "ok" with what might come next. We also try to encourage her and point out the positives every day!

Next week my daughter will be taking her to visit one of the assisted living homes that she's on a waitlist for. Oh, and speaking of assisted living, you would NOT believe how expensive those are. $3900/month and then on top of that, all of the specialized care a person might need.

This took a lot of wind out of my sails. I didn't want to do anything other than work, read a book, talk to my daughter about any updates, and sleep. I'm hoping to be coming out of that funk and will be back to blogging as much as I can.

I want to close by encouraging you to give serious consideration to how you're saving your money, who you want to be your POC (who will regularly update people and take care of needs), and who will be in charge of your money (to pay your bills and make sure they'll handle your money honestly). I know it's a cruddy topic, but please don't put it off!


Terra Heck said...

I just said a prayer for your aunt and your family. Love the pics of y'all together.
I absolutely agree with you about the POC and other stuff. When my mom was ill, I was her POA (Power of Attorney) and POC. I tried to involve my brother and sister but they didn't want anything to do with it. Mom and I even pre-arranged her funeral and I'm glad we did because I knew exactly what she wanted when the time came.
I seriously need to sit down with my husband and talk with him about POA and all the other serious issues.

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to comment!

Creative Commons License
Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.