27 Aug “THIS IS HIM!”
I learned as I got to know him, that his small frame and slow mobility did not represent his strength and ability to survive. He confidently told me a story with his toothless grin about his sister and how she was coming to pick him up and someone was going to be bringing his paperwork, so he could get his social security payment. In the mean time, he was discharged from the skilled rehab and was coming with me to a personal care home where they agreed to keep him without payment until we got it all worked out. The social worker and I had no reason to think otherwise.
The days passed and no sister and no paperwork. Social security numbers started emerging none of which matched his name. One social with his name and corrected birthday worked so the hospital and rehab handed it on down the line for all to use. Meanwhile, the stories were not adding up and the care home owners began to realize no check was coming.
He not only lacked legal proof of his identity, but his physical decline was not severe enough for him to qualify for Medicaid nursing home care in Texas. The cost of his medications alone was anywhere from 100-500 a month, then there was the cost of room and board and the caregiver, but the homeless shelter was not an option to the owners of the personal care home.
Who was this sweet man who weaves credible sounding tails with a confidence most would believe but no one can prove? How does a person become so disconnected with their documents and history? Why is it so hard to find out who someone is in a developed country like the US? Many shouted, “illegal alien” but his southern accent made it clear he is born and bred, US citizen.
Finger prints checked with police, DNA sent to 23andMe, records to Veterans Administration, leads on other names and numbers associated to him yet nothing connected him to his identity. The personal care home owners began to feel like private detectives, sending out emails, messages on social media, and many interviews with the sweet man himself. He kept giving two similar social security numbers, so one fateful day they took him one more time to the social security office to beg once again for help. The man on the other side of the window typed away with the information given as they waited. Then it slipped … a name … a new name associated with number and the info … and a new birth date ten years prior to the one he consistently recited. Social media and the internet searches provided a birth and census record that matched the names in his stories of his father, mother and sister. Simultaneous waves of shock, goose bumps and tears hit in the moment of knowing to the core … THIS IS HIM!
What is next? No ID. Nothing without an ID. Back to social media where emails and phone numbers led to a day: “Hello, we are looking for the family of this sweet man, is it you?” Silent surreal moments as the connections are made and the reality hits through the family that this is the brother, uncle and cousin that has been missing for 31 years. After his dad died and then he attended his mother’s funeral, he left never to be heard from or found by his family again. Why? No one knows to this day, but the longing and the wondering what happened to their cherished family member is over. Brother met brother and sister -in-law in an impactful meeting of unreal once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Sharing memories and finding a way to reconnect through the still obvious glitch of periodic amnesia and disconnected tales.
The family was able to collect the documents needed to get his ID so the struggles to get his social security money which he could only get six months back, began. He is 85 not 75 and he does not have Part B Medicare unless he pays 50,000 ish and he lost out on hundreds of thousands of dollars on social security income since he was 70 years old, but he has income, identity, and people who love and care for him. If it were not for Personal Care Homes, this sweet man most likely would have never found his family and they would have all lived and died not knowing what happened to him. He would have had to live out his days in a homeless shelter until he needed hospital care and could not physically go back to the homeless shelter due to decline. It is doubtful he would be alive today without their care.
Personal Care Homes are personalized and family oriented and provide the compassion and care in a home setting rather than impersonal institutions hidden away from society. The homes can afford to do the right thing even though financial survival is necessary, the owner is here, it is their home and they can go above and beyond when a cooperation cannot.
We all decide each day what do to with the folks that show up on our doorstep. What a world it would be if we could all do like this personal care home and just do what we can for each other until we cannot do any more. And Jesus said, “The poor will always be with you, go feed the poor,” NO EXCEPTIONS, just determination, curiosity, compassion and heart. Residential/Personal Care Homes/Adult Foster Care is all names for the same amazing care available in most states. It is an option we all need to support, so more people like this sweet man and his loving family (he had 16 siblings at one time!!) can have experiences like this one.
Susan Blumhorst, M.A.
Senior Path Specialists owner Susan Blumhorst brings her rich experience in business and senior care to every client she works with. Revisit the site often for updates and insights from Susan.