Sunday, December 06, 2015

We’re Still Alive, and a Few Good Finds


Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 82, low 65)

I apologize for the boring post, but this appears to be our life now. 

We’ve been back in Florida nearly two months, but it feels much, much longer.

People used to say to remark to us, that we really knew how to “do” retirement, and that we were living the dream.  Well, that’s no longer the case. 

We had to leave Georgia earlier than we had planned because my mother had some sort of an event, which seems to have affected her brain.  The doctors did not find any evidence of a stroke, but we have our doubts.  There is definitely some dementia. We are here in Tampa helping to care for her in her home and are trying to keep her out of a nursing home as long as possible.  She needs someone with her 24 hours a day.

We had some long time family friends that moved to Tampa for a job,and were staying with Mom. We had hoped it would be a win-win situation, but it turned out to be too stressful for all concerned, and especially Al and I. They gave up on Florida and are moving back to Nebraska. They were good to Mom though, and she will miss them, but the stress level for my brother, Al and I will go down.

A few weeks ago, Mom started on a new medication for dementia. The doctor was less than enthusiastic about it’s effectiveness, but we have found it to have helped her a great deal.  It can’t stop dementia, but can delay its progress, and that’s good enough for us right now.

Mom has a long term care/nursing home policy with John Hancock Insurance.  Per the policy, she has $120 a day benefit for either nursing home or home health care, but getting the claim set up has been a nightmare.  Many, many phone calls and tons of paperwork and then dealing with incompetent people.  I can’t tell you the amount of stress this has caused.

Over the years working as an injury adjuster at USAA, I dealt with a lot of other insurance companies and I never dealt with one with such poor customer service.  I would never buy any insurance from John Hancock.   I am seeing the benefit of having a nursing home/long term care policy, though, and we’re very glad she has it.

So….. If you have a long term care or nursing home policy, don’t expect to be able to file a claim on your own when you are older and in need of help.  Dealing with them has been very stressful in a situation where we are already under a great deal of stress.

After many, many aggravating phone calls to John Hancock, they have finally agreed to open a claim for Mom and pay for home health care.  We have to choose one of their authorized providers.  I  finally settled on Visiting Angels, after many phone calls to other companies.

Visiting Angels have been pretty good, but there have also been some issues there, which has not helped our stress level.  

We found a few things that help us care for Mom.   One thing is what is called a “gait belt.”  Its a heavy duty belt that you put around the unstable person’s waist.  It allows you to hold onto the person when you are walking with them. Simple, but effective.

Another thing is a home camera. We bought one called a Nest Cam. It has a wide angle lens, complete with sound. You can log onto the website and watch  remotely.  You can watch and also talk to someone through the speakers on the camera.    It has a great wide angle lens with night vision.  When Mom gets up at night, I can see her and I tell her to sit down on the bed,and wait for my brother to get into the room. We don’t like her walking unattended.  It freaked her out a little the first time I spoke to her over the camera, but now she’s used to it.    :)

It’s a great way to monitor the caregivers and make sure they are taking good care of Mom, and yes, they are aware of the cameras.

We also bought one for the motorhome.  If you have animals you worry about, it’s a good way to monitor the temperature in the event of a power or air conditioner failure.  

Here is a link if you are interested.  Nest Cam.  There are a lot of ways this great little camera could be helpful.  We got ours for $169 at Home Depot.

You have to have the password to log onto your camera, but you can see what the camera sees from wherever you are. It’s quite a great invention.


My brother recently found another helpful device for elderly people, in case you find yourself caring for an aging parent.

It’s a Kerr Fall Prevention system.  We put a special pad on her recliner and another one on her bed.   When she moves too much, or gets up, it sets off an alarm.  There is a remote you can take with you in the house, so you don’t have to be in the same room.  It’s been very helpful because it lets you know as soon as she gets up, and doesn’t depend on you noticing movement,  like  with the camera.  We have slept a lot better since we got that.  Before, we kept waking up and looking at the camera in her bedroom, which didn’t allow for much sleep.

If you have elderly parents you are caring for, we’ve found these items to be extremely helpful.

We are not going to the Keys this winter.  We have our Rv lot rented for January and February, and are still working on December, March and beyond. If you know of anyone wanting to rent a RV lot in the Keys, let me know.

I guess there are worse places to be stuck for the winter than Tampa, Florida, but we will certainly miss our little piece of paradise in the Florida Keys.

I have been trying to keep up with blogs, but have fallen behind in reading and responding.  I hope you all are enjoying your winter travels, wherever you are.


  1. For some reason, I had lost track of your blog, so was happy to find it again when reading your comment this morning on Sherry's blog. . .

    We went through much the same as you guys with Dave's Mom, however, she was already living with us in our home when it all began, and we were able to continue in our normal routine for quite some time.

    It is very difficult for the family members when it begins to get bad, and we were still working full time jobs.

    Just know that we understand how very, very stressful it all is. . .and how difficult all the decisions are. . .hugs and prayers!

    1. Thanks Janice. It hasn't been the best of times, that is for sure.

  2. I, too, understand how stressful and disheartening it can be to help an aging parent. At some point, a nursing home will become necessary for safety and your own health and peace of mind. My thoughts are with you.

  3. I'm so sorry this your life has become so stressful. My dad is paying $120 a day in his assisted living facility and he seems to get very good care and excellent food. I hope you can find as nice a place when you can no longer handle your mother's care. I'm glad her situation is not so severe that she does not know who you are or where she is. Thanks for all your help with the Keys. You really haven't missed much this year. It's been raining all day again. I just wonder what will happen since this is "the dry season" and everything down here is water logged and flooded from so much rain.

    1. I have looked at some assisted living facilities here. If you need no real care they aren't too expensive, but the more care you need, the more the price rises. Mom is somewhere between neeting assisted living and nursing care. Some of these places are horrible.

      I guess the El Nino is hitting the Keys hard already. We've never had much rain in all the years we've been going there, wind yes, but very little rain. I hope it clears up for you.

  4. So sorry to hear that things have been going downhill for your mother. She is very lucky to have you and your brother to look after her. Unfortunately as noted above there will come a time that it won't be enough. We'll be keeping you in our prayers.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  5. It is a rough road to travel that is sure. I am curious about your Nest Cam. Does it have to have the internet on while recording? We thought about something like that to monitor thedogs while we are working overnight at Amazon, but thought it would chew through data at a remarkable speed.

    1. Yes, it requires internet, which is why I never bought one before. We're fortunate that the Rv park we're in has free wifi that is real good, or is good, since we bought a range extender from Net Gear. I imagine it would run through your data.

    2. Thanks. That what we thought. The wifi that we get for free here isn't that good. We have a dog walker, though, so they are checked on once during the night. We are almost done anyway, yay!

  6. Sorry to hear of this event. It's very stressful taking care of loved ones. I did it for two years with mixed memories. I wouldn't change it, it was just hard, especially mentally. Praying for your Mom and the family.

  7. Our age group is going to have parent issues. I'm so happy that my mom is in an independent living facility and has the income to pay for it. I have a lot more peace of mind knowing she's taken care of if needed.

    1. We've looked at some nice independant living facilities. They are expensive but Mom could afford them with her nursing home coverage, but she's at a point where she needs more than assisted living. The nursing homes aren't very nice.

  8. Tough stuff- that nest cam sounds great. Several people in our complex have used visiting angels and they seem to be very good.

  9. I'm sure you're doing the best for your mom, as hard as it is. Keeping her in her home is certainly wonderful for her quality of life. You've taken all the steps you possibly can to help her maintain some independence and she is lucky to have a loving family to watch over her.

  10. So sorry to hear about your situation. I'm sure it is very stressful. Trying to find a nursing home with good care is hard. Let me know if you need anything. We are not that far away. How's Al doing?


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