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A duty of care

My two sisters and I weathered a crisis over the summer in which our mother, 88, underwent three surgeries. The third one was an emergency, during which she was taken from her condo on a stretcher, to the emergency room, to surgery, to rehab, and thence to her new assisted living apartment.

She never saw her own home again.

We prepared and sold the condo in short order. We were going to need that money pretty fast to pay the assisted living rent. Mom agreed to it all willingly.

An elderly woman in blue shirt and pants, in a wheelchair in a large institutional room with big windows and linoleum floors. Her daughter, laughing, is pushing the chair.
My mom and my younger sister, touring "the home"

It was such a nice place! 24-hour on-call help, three pleasant meals a day served in a communal dining room, but all the privacy of a normal life in the apartment itself. Rides to doctor appointments. Medication monitoring. Laundry, housecleaning, and bed-linen changing provided.

Circular driveway and covered entrance to a large apartment facility, labeled The Terrace
The Home

Instead of sliding into a final decline as we expected, Mom has recovered from her surgeries.

She needs a little help with meals, but she's able to use a shower and bathroom without assistance. She takes no prescription medications, needs little health monitoring. Still remembers most things. Hears fairly well with hearing aids. Sees just fine.

And she HATES the place.

The food is bad. The company is depressing. When she did press the red button the other night (for a not-too-grave emergency), nobody came for two hours. The promises of weekly housekeeping and bed-changing and laundry are often not fulfilled.

She developed a skin infection a few days ago, and today they told her she needed to get herself to an urgent care clinic. No, they couldn't take her. Couldn't even make an appointment for her. Basically could do fuck-all for her. My sister took care of it.

The simple truth is this: assisted living facilities are not about care. This is easy to miss when you're under the strain of sudden elder-care needs.

These facilities are cynically designed to funnel all the modest wealth of middle-class people like my mom into the coffers of the corporation that owns them.

Most people's whole financial substance--the paid for house, the savings account--bleeds out in five years. The facility downgrades your living standard at that point and starts sucking on your Medicare. Your pension and social security are also forfeit. You live whatever's left of your life with no income, no spending money, no new clothes or shoes, no treats or luxuries except what family members bring.

And what might have been a modest inheritance for the next generation has disappeared instead to some faceless corporation whose only "Care" is in its name.

We are done with this bullshit.

We're going to put a couple of modular houses in my side-yard. One will be for Mom, the other for my younger sister who also needs a home. Together we can look after Mom. Everyone's quality of life will go up.

The modular houses are accessible, flat, and well-designed. They have more square feet than my wee cottage!

A rendering of a small modular house with wood sides and a modern design, in a green landscape.
Rendering of a modular house that we like the look of

It'll be a complicated business involving tax changes and mortgages and trusts, lawyers, contractors and City permits. It won't happen overnight. But it seems to be possible, and we're gonna do it.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 10th, 2018 04:00 am (UTC)
Yeah, tiny houses are the way to go. I hope to have one one day.
Dec. 10th, 2018 05:16 am (UTC)
Zone codes are changing in cities all over the country. For most of the time I've owned my 1906 house, city code wouldn't have permitted me to build another one as small (it's 600 square feet).

Now they're popping up all over the place. No single person needs many more square feet than that, especially if the floorplan is thoughtful. And the single-person household is the fastest growing category in a lot of places.

The idea that people like me should be forced to buy MORE house than I need is ridiculous. I hope you can get your small or tiny house!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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