Lost in a maze of senior services

I’m back in the maze of senior citizens services. It just seems like there should be an easier way to figure this all out.

When I called my mom yesterday morning she said she was going to take my dad to the doctor because he had a sudden-onset bad cough. Although my sister was going to help her, Mom took me up on my offer to come up and go with them because she was feeling poorly herself.

The doctor’s appointment led to labwork, which was fortunately in the same building, and a chest x-ray which required getting in and out of the car again, a short trip to the near-by hospital, and then lots of walking. Since my mom has a bad knee and hip, it was a good thing my sister and I were both there to handle the two wheelchairs we required for our parents as we navigated the hospital corridors.

Dad walks okay with a walker. He is slow, somewhat unsteady and will absolutely head in the wrong direction if he is not closely supervised. Getting him in and out of a car is another story. Probably because of his Alzheimer’s he gets very confused, somewhat fearful,  and has difficulty turning himself around to sit down in a chair, or in a car seat. He is not able to lift his legs into the car very easily, or duck his head into the car doorway. When you think about it, getting into a car requires a lot of coordination which my dad now lacks.

I assisted him getting in and out of the car three times yesterday. He was exhausted and I was exhausted, plus my back hurt from trying to help him turn and get his legs into the car once he backed himself into the seat. If my mom continues to try to do this by herself, I fear she will injure herself.

Dad has to go back to see his doctor next week when the test results are in.

“We are not doing this again,” I told my mom. “It is too hard on him, and too hard on you, to be trying to get him in the car.”

We need a different solution. I think he needs a wheelchair and appropriate transportation, but I don’t know what his options are.

So I got out all my information I collected last year when we were initiating home health care.

I called Project Mobility in the Dayton area that is a public bus system for disabled individuals. They have a lift for wheelchairs and will transport you door-to-door as long as you are traveling within a designated geographic area. Their fee is quite reasonable at $7.00 a round trip. To become certified for this service, however, Dad has to fill out an application (which he is no longer able to do), have it  certified by his physician (which requires a trip to the doctor’s office) and then go in for an interview (another trip). After the interview it takes three to four weeks for certification. This may be an option for the future, but it won’t help us with our next appointment.

I called the Area Agency on Aging, which is a comprehensive information/resources/referral service for seniors. Although you won’t get to the end result you need by making this phone call, you will get the information you need to help you along the way. It’s like following bread crumbs; you’re grateful for the information, but you still have a lot of things to figure out on your own. They gave me phone numbers for two ambulette services that, although somewhat expensive, seem to provide a pretty worry-free transportation service. This might be a costly, but good solution for the occasional trip Dad needs to make to see a doctor.

The whole point of this post is that families who are dealing with the progressive challenges seniors face are largely left to their own devices to try to figure out first what is needed, second, what is available, and third, how to make it all affordable. It is a complicated tangled maze and the people who are required to figure it out are the seniors who are in all likelihood less capable of dealing with phone calls, applications, and interviews than they have ever been in their entire life.

It just seems like there should be a better way.

7 thoughts on “Lost in a maze of senior services”

  1. yes there should be a better way. i remember my mom going through all this when Dad was ill. A group that focuses like a ‘United Way’ of agencies?

    Every day for a year….and sometimes many times a day I would be on the phone getting info and also helping my parents with the info accumulation.

    prayers and virtual hugs for you and your family

  2. I’ve gone through some of what you’ve written about, and it is so frustrating and somewhat bewildering.

    There needs to be something put in place for this situation where by the time services are needed, those needing to sign or even understand the process are often unable to – either physically, mentally, or both.

    Not being a care provider or having worked in the care industry at all, it seems like those who deal with this from the business end should streamline the process.

    It sounds very frustrating and I wish you all the best.

  3. There is no better way. I am the sole caretaker of my parents who are both 87. They manage themselves very well and all I must do at this stage is drive and cook. But we know what the future holds as you have described. The bus service is a nightmare. Your parent is not the only one . They have dozens to pick up and drop off all over town and my experience is that they are never on time and you may wait hours for your pick up return. It is not an exclusive valet service. Going to the doctor is an all day affair. Fortunately we a 12 blocks from the hospital and doctor complex here in Aventura just north of Miami. I am the only child so it will all be on me. I’ll be 62 in June and have had several heart attacks. I just have to stay alive for them.

  4. You are so right, there should be a better way. I fear that with all the cutbacks to healthcare and social programs, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. I admire your desire to try find out ways to better help your parents. 🙂

  5. Agreed, there should be an easier way !
    Thank you for trafficing the maze and doing the research to find a resolution.

    You are a gem.


  6. It hasn’t even been a week since we had to take my mom’s car keys, but already I can see exactly what you mean. The local websites that list senior services are filled with outdated links or incomplete info, making it extremely time-consuming and exhausting to find answers to our questions.

    Thanks for your post.

  7. can’t imagine how elderly folk, especially those with serious illnesses, can manage life as usual…i’m inclined to congratulate them all, and their caregivers, for just getting on with life, regardless…

    can’t help but shake my head at the prospect of some day it being me…hugmamma.


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