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  • John Todd

“No, I Don’t have that problem . . .”

I guess it is just human nature, but it seems like SOME PEOPLE are in denial. Maybe all of us are guilty and It seems to start pretty young. I remember growing up with a house full of siblings. (Between his, hers, and theirs, I was the middle of 9 kids being raised all together!) Whenever something got broken in the house, our parents would try to find out who had done it. Inevitably, the DENIAL GAME began: “Not me.” “I didn’t do it.” “I wasn’t even close to that when it broke.” Part of growing up was learning to accept responsibility for our actions and OWN IT when something went wrong. _________________ When working with the elderly, sometimes we run into this same problem. Let me explain. When my mother-in-law was struggling to care for herself, we decided to explore getting In-home care for her. We felt that if she had some assistance with the basic activities through the day, and with support from the family through the evening and night, we could keep her independent in the home for a few more years. One of the first elements of getting approved for Elder Care Medicaid is establishing a Medical Need. In our case, a Medicaid Nurse was scheduled to come out and interview my mother-in-law in her home, to evaluate what needs she might have and what services would be appropriate. I decided to be present for the interview (with her permission) – not to take control of the conversation, but just to be a witness of what the nurse said. At one point, the nurse asked a question, and my mother-in-law said, “I don’t have that problem . . .” I gently spoke up and said, “But mom, didn’t you tell us about that just a couple of weeks ago?” You see, she was in denial. Now I understand that there is a fine line here. Everyone wants to keep their dignity. It is easy to THINK you are more capable than you really are. Many are taught not to ask for help – to maintain their independence. But when it comes to Medicaid and “In-Home” assistance, there has to be a MEDICAL NEED. If your loved one does not admit there is a medical need, Medicaid cannot be approved. “Do you need help preparing meals or feeding yourself?” “No, my husband helps me.” (So yes, you need assistance.) “Do you dress and bathe yourself without help?” “My daughter comes twice a week, to help me and make sure I don’t fall.” ( So yes, I need a bath attendant.) Other questions and observations are about continence, mobility, and cognition. But if your loved one feels they are being insulted or accused, they might rise to the occasion and deny they have a need, and then not qualify for additional assistance. So I’m curious. Have you ever seen where your spouse or parent was in denial about the care they needed? How did you work through that while preserving their dignity?

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