By Timothy S. Barkley, Sr. April 2018.

The attorney’s phone rang. He activated his headset, “This is Tim.”

“Good morning! This is Elizabeth Johnson. I need to talk to you. It’s about my parents. My mother fell last night, and was taken to a local hospital with a broken hip. She hit her head, too, when she fell. My dad is upset, and not making much sense.”

They met a couple of hours later.

“I’m sorry about your folks!”

“Thank you,” she said with feeling. “My mom is stable, but the bump on her head seems to have affected her vision. She’s on pain meds, and doesn’t remember the fall. They say they’ll put a pin in her hip as soon as she’s been completely checked out, then send her to a nursing home for therapy. That’ll take a couple of days.

“I’m more worried about my dad. He’s home alone, and I’m worried. He hasn’t been himself since Mom fell. She was always his ‘anchor.’ He doesn’t talk sense, and I’m worried he’s going to wander off or hurt himself.”

“Can you bring him to your place?”

“Well, he never wants to leave home. They’ve lived in that apartment for about 25 years, and he’s really a ‘homebody.’ He hardly even wants to come to our place for my birthday party. Mom always had to drag him.”

“Do you think he’ll go visit your mom?”

“Well, I guess so. He was so confused when she fell, and then wasn’t there. I think I could get him to go to see her.”

“Then you might just have to bring him back to your place for few days, unless one of the grandkids is old enough to stay with him.”

“Maybe that’s a good idea!” Elizabeth perked up. “I don’t want to trick him into coming home with me, but I don’t think he will do it on his own. But my oldest grandson gets along really well with Dad. They always play Chinese checkers together. I’ll check that out.

“What about Mom?” she continued. “What happens now?”

“Like you said, after the surgery, the hospital will discharge Mom to the nursing home. I know you’re concerned about costs. As long as her hospital stay is long enough, she’ll qualify for Medicare to cover the costs of her rehab, for at least the first 20 days. Then she has to pay 20% of the cost of care, for the next 80 days.”

“So Medicare covers the first 100 days in the nursing home? That’s a relief.”

“Not really,” cautioned the attorney. “Medicare only pays for rehab, as long as your mother is making progress. If she ‘plateaus’ and can’t make more progress, or if she decides it’s just too much work and won’t go through with it anymore, Medicare will stop paying. Then she has to private pay. That’s not really the law, but that’s how it works out.

“You’re supposed to get a letter before your mother is responsible. Make sure the nursing home knows to send that letter to you. Sometimes they just call you and then bill you, which can land you in a huge snafu.

“I know life is chaos right now, but you need to start thinking about a long-term solution for your parents, in case your mom doesn’t regain all her mobility. You might want to look at the apartment to see if it’s walker-accessible, and think about whether they can stay there if your dad doesn’t come back to himself. You’re busy right now, I know, but you don’t want Mom discharged without a plan in place.”

Elizabeth look bleak. “That’s what scares me. Who can help me put together a plan?”


Attorney Tim Barkley
The Tim Barkley Law Offices
One Park Avenue
P.O. Box 1136
Mount Airy
Maryland 21771

 (301) 829-3778

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