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My husband died June 30, 2017. A social worker observed I wasn't functioning too well and advised me to move from my apartment where I'd lived for 10 years to a personal care home. I took her advice and made the move and wish I hadn't. Not only did I lose my husband, but also my apt and all my possessions as well as my car. Now it is 3 years later and I have no life. The loss of my car meant I can't get to support groups that would help me and my independence. I live on social security disability and of that $1,000 a month goes for rent to the personal care home. I also went to a dental clinic and they advised I have all my upper teeth extracted, which I did and wish I hadn't. They were working and not loose or causing me pain. And I didn't know how much a denture was going to cost. I still can't afford one and there is no financial aid since a denture is not considered medically necessary. I can't chew much of what is served at the personal care home, but I'm still paying for it. I buy my own food at the local grocery store which costs me about $80 a week. I have no family or friends. I miss being married but it doesn't look like I can meet anyone new. I just feel like crying much of the time, knowing my life will never be close to what it was. I live 200 miles from my hometown, which is still affected by COVID, otherwise I know I'd find support there. It feels like I've lost everything that mattered to me. My husband and I were married for 25 years.

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Carol,

I am so sorry for the situation you find yourself in.  Do YOU feel it's necessary to be in a care home?  Could you get on low income housing? They have waiting lists but maybe if you got on one it'd help you to have a light at the end of the tunnel.  Sometimes hooking up with a church or other group will help you have support.  It's hard to be out there on your own, I feel like that sometimes although my son will come in a dire emergency (he lives too far, only comes maybe once a year, I rarely hear from my daughter.  

I am glad you made your way here, I hope you will consider having this post moved to loss of spouse where you will get more response, some don't look at the rest of the site. ;)

6/19 it will be 15 years since I lost my husband.  It's hard for me to believe I've made it this long alone.  It can take a long time to process our grief.  I hear you about how your life has changed.  We want to be here for you so I hope you'll continue coming and feel free to post your feelings, we're like an on-line family.

You don't say what state you live in, but my GF lives in IL and Medicaid bought her dentures and paid for the extractions.  Could you call the support group and tell them you need to come but don't have a ride, maybe someone would be willing to help you if they know, particularly if it's not too far from where you are.  I started a grief support group here because we'd never had one (I live in the country near a very small town, nearest city 50 miles from here).  I've been collecting articles for years and been here the whole 15 years so that has helped me.

I wrote this article of the things I've found helpful...I hope something in it is of help to you.

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH GRIEF

There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.

 

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16 hours ago, carolk1955 said:

A social worker observed I wasn't functioning too well and advised me to move from my apartment where I'd lived for 10 years to a personal care home

This has me smacking my forehead in dismay.  This is NOT a helpful piece of advice that social worker gave you, and while it was probably well-intentioned, it was precisely counter to what you as the client/recipient of services should be getting in terms of support.  You lost your independence as well as your husband and your personal things.  Client choice is paramount and ALWAYS should be free of pressure from service providers!  Regret is a bitter pill to swallow.  🙁  I'm so sorry this person appeared to pressure you to leave what you knew, to move to a more restrictive setting.  When we're grieving, we're more susceptible to pressure from others.  it might be this is what happened here.

That said, Kay's suggestions are great, including the part about Medicaid.  In my state there are services paid for by our version of Medicaid (it's called Medical Assistance) for people in your situation.  it won't cover everything but it can provide visiting support in helping you make decisions about what to do next, locate resources, etc.  Sometimes when people are caught in the midst of depression, anxiety, grief etc their thinking is not the clearest.  Sometimes just having someone in your corner is enough to get through the weeks.  Looks like you're in Pennsylvania, possibly, so I might suggest looking here: https://www.rtor.org/directory/mental-health-pennsylvania/

 

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Have you contacted senior and disabled services?  We have an advocate here that is so great with people, has a multitude of resources to connect people with.  They can be like a liaison between the person and what's available out there.

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Thank you both for your kind words. First, unfortunately I make $85 a month too much in social security to qualify for Medicaid. Yes, Medicaid would pay for a denture but unfortunately it has to come out of my own pocket. A good, well fitting denture will cost me about $1200. I do have dental insurance that will pay 50% of what the denture costs, up to a limit. Sure I could get one for $400 but it probably won't fit well. And I'm sensitive to things in my mouth. I'm waiting for my next stimulus check to cover that. Word is we'll get one about the end of July. I'm trying to consider moving into senior housing locally or in my hometown. That will cost me about $413 a month. Currently the personal care home manages my meds, does my laundry, cleans my room, and serves meals, but as I mentioned, right now I need to buy my own food that I can chew with my gums. I always managed my own meds before I moved here, and did my own laundry, so I don't have a problem with that. It upsets me that I had an apt full of furniture, including a bed I'd only bought 6 weeks before, a Sealy Posturepedic that was wonderful, and now I have to start all over. Alone. Unfortunately in this town there are not "a multitude of resources". I would like to move back to my hometown, 200 miles away, which is a larger city and there are alot of resources. The problem is getting there. The ride is through various back roads in the mountains, there is no direct route. But it's the only way. From the first day, I've hated living in this personal care home and feel like I can't wait to get out. But getting myself motivated to take all these steps means I have to get out of my depression somehow. I feel stuck in this prison. I have no family or friends in this area, which makes it harder. I will keep posting here because I need all the help and hope I can get. I have a therapist who is somewhat, but not alot, familiar with local resources and of course not at all with those in my hometown. I may contact the Agency on Aging in my hometown, maybe they can be of some help. My hometown offers alot of help to seniors, something that my current location doesn't.

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We don't have resources locally but there is a bus or usually someone willing to drive elderly to town, 50+ miles away.  

Take just one step at a time so it's not overwhelming.  Start with getting on the list for low income housing as it can be a year or two's wait but timing is everything as a friend of mine applied and was able to get into an apt within a month!

You can try local churches to get some help.  Our small Baptist church we are always helping people in the community, doesn't matter if they attend there or not.

Even if your relatives are not close by, I hope one of them would be willing to help you relocate when the time comes.  St. Vincent de'Paul is also a good help, here they have been known to help people get housing, furniture, etc.  Right now ours is closed due to the pandemic but many in neighboring vicinities are opened back up.

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Ah, so you're "not poor enough" to qualify for Medicaid but your income isn't enough to live on either, especially if you cannot work or can't get a job.  it's terrifying how many people fall into this category and many people don't realize it until it happens to them (that's a lot like grief, come to think of it!).  I see this so often in my line of work, it rather makes me anxious knowing what could be in store for me down the line if things do not improve for us all. 

I really hope your therapist can educate themselves on resources.  That council/agency on aging should be able to refer you to additional resources, or help you set up services, even if it's nothing more than getting on a wait list for subsidized or affordable housing.  they are indeed scarce and it's wise to get on lists now and let that "stew" while you work on smaller steps.  Do you qualify for supplemental nutrition assistance from your state or county?  It used to be called Food Stamps, or Food Support.  Sometimes they allow extra $ to people who are on a diet for medical reasons, like soft foods in your case.

9 hours ago, carolk1955 said:

But getting myself motivated to take all these steps means I have to get out of my depression somehow.

That's the thing about depression, it saps your energy, as does grief, and we know they go hand in hand.

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Just out of curiosity,  @Kieron what is your vocation?  

Not sure if they'd qualify for food assistance while living at a place that provides meals, but it wouldn't hurt to try, if nothing else, they might come up with another resource to help out.  I've been in that in between gap where you make too much for help but not enough to make it.  Difference was I was in my home and I did eBay sales to help me make ends meet until things changed.  Very hard with the situation she's in.  Any of us could be there and things can change in the blink of an eye.  I really think her situation warrants reaching out for help...help from Senior and Disabled Services, help from churches, anyone.  Here we have a local Facebook chat for my vicinity, often people post their need and someone from the town will step up to help them.  I'd call the head of the grief support group too and if that one won't help, try another.  Don't stop, we are our own best advocates and the operator of our own destination.  Often we are the ones to help ourselves by if nothing else, reaching out.

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10 hours ago, kayc said:

Any of us could be there and things can change in the blink of an eye. 

Yep, that's my view and I get ticked off with certain viewpoints who think everyone that has misfortune befall them should just get themselves out of their troubles.  Not always so easy when you're in the thick of it.

Kay, I am a licensed social worker in community based services in the area of adult mental health.   Now you see why I was so disgusted with the one Carol mentioned?  There's a thing called "least restrictive setting" in which a person having difficulty isn't automatically placed into a higher level of care like a care home, unless warranted and there is no other option, and only with client choice.  Choice is or should be paramount.  Depending on the state and county resources, she could have been given in-home services to help her cope and maintain independence, rather than giving up everything she knew including memories of her husband, their home, and all the things they had.  And that bed she just bought, and so on.  Insane.  Maybe we have it good here or something in my state, but to me that's unfathomable, to uproot someone like that, rather than let them remain at home where they want to be, with visiting supports. 

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That that is your vocation explains a lot, you seem to have a knowledge base that is extraordinary.

It's not just your state, ours is that way too.  I have a friend that worked in social services (she finally got out for her own sanity as working within the system can be...well, you know, enough said).  It reminds me of the adage, "First, do no harm."  Her counselor did her a grave injustice and once IN a care place, it can be hard to get out of it without help from family/friends.  I would not let that daunt me if I was adamant enough about being on my own, but it's like telling someone who is depressed to just pull themselves out of it!  Sometimes people need help.  I think her best option is to make phone calls...not give up, find that one that cares enough to help.  

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23 hours ago, kayc said:

(she finally got out for her own sanity as working within the system can be...well, you know, enough said). 

I sure do.  🙄This Covid business threw a wrench into my hopes for easing out of it...  I completely agree, the therapist/counselor should have remembered the first thing we learned when majoring in the field: "clients have the right to self-determination."  That person took that right away from her, in my opinion, even if it was out of good intentions, but that old road to hell is paved with 'em!   

 

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The worst part is what an uphill battle it created for her.  I hope she continues to advocate for herself.  Gosh I wish she lived here, people in my community are very caring and helpful, together, we'd make it happen!

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