In the summer of 2005, after several years of deteriorating health, our 75-year old father became seriously ill, and for the next 12 months he was in and out of hospitals and nursing homes. It broke our hearts to watch him decline so quickly. He bravely fought off one medical crisis after another, and his suffering was beyond imagination. It still brings our family to tears to think about it.It didn't help matters that the quality of Dad's care was initially lacking. Doctors and nurses who didn't pay attention. One medication mistake after another. It was like a snowball rolling downhill, turning into an avalanche. Dad had plenty of legitimate health issues to battle - these oversights were a burden on an already stressful situation. When we finally had a new team of doctors and nurses in place, we had yet another setback: we found out that Dad had exhausted his Medicare hospitalization coverage, something we didn't even know was possible! We became consumed with worry about our parents' financial security, which was the last thing we needed to be thinking about. How would we pay for the care he needed? What would happen to our mom? The potential of financial ruin was devastatingly real.
Mom was understandably shaken by Dad's declining health and the accompanying chaos. She was also physically worn out because she was, and had been for several years already, Dad's main caregiver, and everything had been ratcheted up in the past year, his illness, the complications, the looming threat to health and security. The stress definitely took its toll on her. Not only did both our parents need emotional support, they also needed help staying on top of everything. My sister Karen and I shared responsibilities, and took turns flying back and forth from New York to Orlando for at least several days each month. But since we'd never been through anything like this before, it was a steep learning curve: we spent a tremendous amount of time researching everything from the prevailing medical questions, to Medicare coverage, to care options like nursing homes and hospice. And while all the research was necessary, we sincerely wish we could've spent less time putting out fires and more time just being with our dad and holding his hand, trying to ease his pain. Sadly, that wasn't meant to be. Our dad died on July 16, 2006, a couple days after he entered hospice. Naturally, we still think of him everyday, and he continues to be a light in our lives, but we all miss him terribly.
In Care of Dad would make him proud. He was a man who was always there to help others, and we hope we’ve carried on his tradition with this website, which we named in his honor. He taught us some important lessons: to enjoy every single day, to never feel sorry for yourself, to work hard and to take care of others. He was the inspiration for this site, and In Care of Dad has certainly gone a long way toward healing our broken hearts.
The Cocktail Napkin
The idea to create In Care of Dad came to us shortly after Dad died in the summer of 2006. Karen and I were flying home from Orlando, reflecting on just how chaotic the entire devastating ordeal had been. The pain and sadness that people experience in such situations is understandable – you may not be prepared for it or know how to handle it, but at least you can understand why it’s there. The part that really struck us was the confusion we had to slog through, a swamp of medical jargon, insurance questions, medication mysteries – it was practically an everyday struggle. Watching our dad’s health unravel and helping our mom cope with the situation was hard on us, hard on everybody. We knew we’d been through hell, we just didn’t realize it came with an education. We sat there sadly imagining how different things might have been, if only we’d had this knowledge before our dad got sick.
So we sketched out the concept, right there on a cocktail napkin. And In Care of Dad was born. The idea was to share everything we learned, everything we wish we’d known at the beginning of our dad’s illness - from the tools that helped us better manage the situation, to what questions you should ask potential nursing homes, to how does Medicare really work. Simple, practical and useful information, all in one place. One-stop shopping.
We knew right off that some of the best and most useful advice we had received was from our friends who also had firsthand experience helping a sick loved one. My sister and I realized that we wanted to create a place where we could all share our stories and insights, anything that could offer help and support for people going through a similar experience. We wanted to help people better understand and anticipate the challenges.
In Care of Mom
Our mom has been fortunate to have a close and supportive group of friends in Florida to help her deal with the loss of her husband, our dad. Many of her friends are also widows who had spent their lives taking care of husbands and children. Though they grieve their losses, these women have found support together, and laughter and fun in their friendships.
Just as we were putting the finishing touches on this website, our mom had a sudden stroke. We were shocked. The stroke impacted her ability to communicate, a condition known as expressive aphasia. For the last several months, we’ve been busy helping our mom during her recovery. Once we realized that she was going to be okay, we started to joke with her that she just couldn't stand that In Care of Dad was, well, all about Dad, and she had to make her own mark on the site.
Luckily, she’s recovering wonderfully, and, ironically, her stroke has made our site richer. Not only has Mom now made her mark, but my sister and I had the chance to see how well the basic principles and recommendations in our site actually work. This initially frightening event has ultimately renewed our belief in In Care of Dad.
Home Page and Getting Involved
Yep, that’s my sister Karen and me with our dad. Our mom took this picture of us in front our grandparents’ house on the Oswego River in upstate New York in 1985.
Our dad spent a lot of time at the Life Care in Ocala, Florida, nursing home, and this was his favorite view in the courtyard. Karen took this picture during a recent visit.
Karen took this picture of her books that we have used helping both our dad and mom and for this website. This picture is taken in her home in Connecticut.
Medicare - Financial
This picture was taken by Karen in our parents’ kitchen in The Villages, Florida.
Our dad loved roses. For many years he had a beautiful rose garden at our family’s home in Connecticut. Our parents loved to bring roses to friends who needed an emotional lift. Karen took this photo, too.
The icon in our logo is meant to signify dozens of little swirling pieces of chaos that pull together to create light.