costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

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Lavanda
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costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

Postby Lavanda » Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:21 pm

We have often had debates about the ‘going back to the UK in our old age in order to get healthcare’ and many people do think that may be a possibility for them in the future. I’m not of that opinion but something happened this year that has made me realise there is a whole new dimension involving healthcare that I never even considered eight years ago when we moved here. What happens to our elderly parents when they get old?

Just before Christmas my 91 year old Dad fell down the stairs at his home which he shares with my 88 year old Mum. He was taken to the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital 30 miles from his home. My brother, luckily, was on hand. A doctor assessed that Dad had broken10 ribs and said he would not survive because of his age. My brother questioned this. The doctor said he was old. My brother told the doctor that he may be old but he was not ill, neither physically nor mentally, that he lived at home with Mum and was totally independent and even looked after his huge vegetable garden, alone. The doctor woke up, asked a few more questions and then decided to treat Dad as if he would survive. Lucky my brother was there otherwise it would have been a quiet bed somewhere with no fluids and closed curtains until he obligingly died.

I flew back to the UK at once with my sister who lives in Murcia during the winter. We looked after a shaken Mum and visited Dad daily, In fact that’s all we did. After 5 days in the ICU and another three weeks on the ward our pleas that Dad be moved to a hospital closer to Mum were finally heard. He was moved 10 miles from Mum. He was moved — but his glasses, teeth, part of his hearing aid, wash bag and contents, dressing gown and slippers did not. The new hospital was ‘under stress’. Dad was put in a draughty corridor and almost froze to death until Mum came along with a new pair of temporary glasses, wash bag and contents, dressing gown and slippers.

My sister and I were back in Spain by now but my brother ‘took over’. He asked for Dad to go into a convalescent home as Dad was not ill and did not need a hospital bed. He only needed to recover. Apparently, all the convalescent homes have been closed or sold. We researched private homes in the area. They only took people full-time. They did not want to cater for ‘temporaries’. So, after another week Dad was moved to a hospital only 2 miles from Mum. Without his temporary glasses, wash bag and contents, dressing gown and slippers. Of course.

After a visit from Social Services to assess their house Dad was finally back home and I was, once more, with them. Dad seemed very frail and did not look like he was progressing much. Two days after I came back to Spain he had a ‘stroke’. He went back to the first hospital where they discovered that his initial fall had started a small bleed in his head. Hence ‘stroke’. They did treat this without too much talk of whether he was worth treating, or not. Three weeks later, with the sequence of hospital moves and disappearing wash bag and slippers (he hung on to his temporary glasses and dressing gown —the real glasses, teeth and part hearing aid replacements were still pending) Dad was back home and has since made rapid strides to a complete recovery. Well done, NHS.

I visited, of course, in December/January, in February/March, in May, in June and in August. My sister and brother are filling in the gaps so we are all, quite rightly and eagerly, ‘looking after’ our parents. They are back to their stroppy, independent selves but we, the children, remain on alert. We talk about options constantly. The future may, one day, when they are old, need action.

The point of this history, and well done if you have got this far, is that anyone thinking of retiring here and still has parents, it is well to consider how you will cope when they need healthcare. I’m not starting a debate on the NHS policy for the treatment of the over 80s, or whatever, but, our parents are living longer. Regular visits back to the UK to deal with the NHS and ancillary organisations will need to be costed in to the budget of living here. Decisions may need to be taken about going back to the UK to look after parents or move them here (mine are coming here when they give the word). Not all parents are demented or physically incapable. What will happen to them, and how we will deal with the situations while we are at a distance of 2000 miles must be a consideration.

In my small extranjero community here, a friend goes back to the UK every five weeks for a week to be with her Mum. Another friend makes regular trips to Berlin where her Mum is in a home. Another friend has her Mum in a home in Surrey and flits back and forth regularly. With my next trip planned for a few weeks I have joined the band of happy settlers here who go back to the UK for healthcare. Not ours — but that of our parents.

olive
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Re: costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

Postby olive » Thu Sep 10, 2015 5:46 pm

Do you know, I can identify with so many things in your missive.

Last Autumn Mrs olive's aunt (lives alone and was quite independent) had an innocuous fall . She went over for five days to help her get settled on discharge from hospital. The five days became actually five months as after discharge she became aggressive etc and it turned out she had a serious brain bleed. I flew over after making hasty arrangements for our animals etc etc and was there as she got moved from the local hospital to Glasgow (200 mile round trip). The consultant said sorry but without trepanning she will die however at her age she has a poor chance of operation survival. What do you want us to do? We said operate.
We stayed in a hotel near Glasgow for a few days (they offered a bed in the intensive care unit) and then reverted to three weeks of daily commute in hire car.
Then followed the no beds, no carers merry go round. She was moved to other hospitals before ending up back at her local hospital. One day we went in to find she had been sent to Dumfries hospital - supsected meningitis. My ar£e. Even the consulatant said so there, the local hospital just needed the bed. Eventually she was discharged (i was long back here tending the weeds) and lives back home with carers four times a day plus good elderly friends who visit most days.

Sadly she has acquired dementia from the simple fall and even though you ring her regularly she cannot remember.

I hardly dare say it as the forum police will be on the case but we bought a car to run around in. It subsequently has proved invaluable. It is taxed, MOT'd, serviced and insured. On that subject I checked today on the website in Uk for a local vehicle that has been here in Spain a long long time. Untaxed tax due 1st October 2008 MOT expired 4th march 2009. But I digress.

Since this, my mother had a simple fall and broke her hip and had it replaced successfully. I went over and put a few things in place. Old people are proud, won't accept they need help, are frightened that what little they have will be taken off them and they will be put in a home. My mother actually nearly died one night while I was there but I was unaware of the seriousness until I went to visit the next day. You don't expect complications from a simple hip replacement (my dad has had one due to worn out hip). As an aside , he had a simple hernia op last year and nearly died from poor nurse care. He woke in the night and realised he was swimming in blood(his own). He tried calling for help but was too weak and had given up. Fortunately the guy in the next bed could see the blood and called for a nurse.

I shall be going over before, during and for after my mums "simple" knee op which has come about as a result of her hip issue.

The father in law was killed by the Liverpool path which has subsequently been sidelined. That was a very very bitter experience . I have little doubt that he would still have been alive if only he hadn't been taken to hospital. I vowed then that no family member would be left to the clutches of hospital experts who, without telling you, decide to do away with someone as they "have little chance, wouldn't have much quality of life, have had a good innings. delete as appropriate" . It is quite conceivable that the aunt wouldn't be alive now if we hadn't been there to say operate.

We currently have issues with the MIL. Like many OAPs in Britain she lives alone. (50% of the over 75's I believe). She has carers 4 times a day. We order her food via Morrisons (excellent service) . We also do this for another uncle and he too has carers 4 times a day (eating his money up but he is better there than he would be in a care home)

The MIL has got to the stage where she needs more care so we spend part of our time there and she spends part of her time here. She is coming soon for what maybe 3 months, 6 months or permanent (a word none of us uses). She would have to go back anyway to escape the olive pollen season as hse has respiratory problems. You can see the potential here for "just where do you live, pay your taxes and have your healthcare?" We are not about to start deregistering and registering ourselves or MIL for healthcare, tax etc.

Lavanda- do you or your friends get a Spanish EHIC card for these trips - some can be open ended? What happens if you fall ill away from Spain?

Not looking for answers but I bet there are a lot of expats here with this problem.

katy
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Re: costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

Postby katy » Thu Sep 10, 2015 6:02 pm

There is a solution, take your elderly parents to Spain with you and let them benefit from the wonderful Spanish health service. :)

Lavanda
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Re: costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

Postby Lavanda » Thu Sep 10, 2015 6:32 pm

Olive, that is so interesting and, I'm sure others here have had similar experiences. It's a huge worry as to what might happen if there's no one to speak up for our elderlies as they seem to be seen as disposable. 'Good innings' indeed! I do use my EHiC card, issued by Newcastle and fully legal and covered etc. under recipricol agreements, because I'm married to a pensioner, etc. and we get full Spanish healthcare. I'm not sure about one of my friends as she is still only in her 50s. I think she relies on travel insurance.

Agree completely Katy and that's the most sensible post you have ever made. Unfortunately, it's hard to kidnap people against their will. It's best to wait until they are ready. My parents will end up here but ... they say they are not yet incapable enough!!! Yes! the healthcare here is excellent and please don't start one of your, what do you call them, peaing contests. This is a serious subject. Thanks.

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Re: costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

Postby katy » Thu Sep 10, 2015 6:58 pm

I won't but you obviously don't read the Spanish papers :silent:

Lavanda
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Re: costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

Postby Lavanda » Fri Sep 11, 2015 7:17 am

I don't know why I am posting this but, for you Katy, one more time, I do read the papers and read statistics but I'm not so green as to believe everything I read. My husband was a journalist for 40 years. I know about journalism and what drives paper sales. :wave: In matters of healthcare I prefer to make decisions based on personal and family experiences. In whatever country. My initial post is what really happened in my family. Olive's post is what really happened in his family. It is a consideration for forum readers, especially those thinking of moving here, who have parents. It's a serious subject. Or has this forum become just a playground for trivia - so like most of 'the papers' beloved by certain sections of society? I think not.

katy
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Re: costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

Postby katy » Fri Sep 11, 2015 9:16 am

You can't ask for me not to intervene on your different method of slagging off the UK and then address me personally. I'll just say official waiting list stats in the Spanish newspapers :D

Parent responsibilities are always there wether you live in Spain, Paris or Glasgow if parents are in the South. People are living longer and in some cases the old are now looking after the old. When we moved to Spain my Mother was going to move with us, I would not have gone otherwise. She died two months before we left the UK.

markwilding
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Re: costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

Postby markwilding » Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:15 am

Lavanda wrote: In matters of healthcare I prefer to make decisions based on personal and family experiences.

Absolutely correct,
Surely you would trust your own personal experience over something you've read in a newspaper,

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Wicksey
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Re: costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

Postby Wicksey » Fri Sep 11, 2015 11:12 am

In our case it is my MIL that has developed dementia but on our last visit to see the inlaws in June we were barred from going to the house by my father in law. My MIL has become very difficult and is rude to everyone and I think he was just too embarrassed to have us witness that. My OH has tried phoning and speaking to her but she obviously doesn't really remember who he is and my FIL is just too proud to admit he needs any help. He is 88 and fit and when we saw him just briefly for about 10 minutes when we were there, he looked tired and worn out. He is very much of the 'old school', not wishing to talk about it at all and we are just hitting a brick wall.

We are relying on my sister in law (with whom we've had very little contact over the previous 25 years up to now) to keep us informed of what is really happening. The FIL is convinced it was all caused by medication and that now she is off it, the MIL is 'improving'.

It is frustrating for us as there is little point in even trying to visit. It would upset him more if we did turn up at the house against his wishes so we are staying away until we get an invite. They are not short of money and could afford private carers and cleaners but I know he will resist this.

I do feel for those who have to now keep returning to the UK to care for their elderly parents, and it is certainly something that people moving here perhaps haven't considered coping with in the future. Most think about their own old age and what will happen, but not the caring for their increasingly aged parents living back in the UK.

Free at Last
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Re: costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

Postby Free at Last » Fri Sep 11, 2015 11:26 am

The point of costing such trips into the budget is something I can certainly relate to. When we moved, both my OH's parents and my mother were dead, only my father was left and despite diabetes and a number of other conditions he was reasonably fit and living completely independently. One month after we arrived here, I got a phone call to tell me he'd had a stroke and was in hospital, and I was on a plane back the next day. I spent the next six months until he died being in England for a few weeks at a time and at the hospital every day, then coming back here for a couple of weeks, to share responsibilities with my sister and brother. Accommodation wasn't a problem as I could live at my Dad's house, but flights and the cost of travelling to the hospital and back every day did mount up, at a time when we were just living on savings until our pensions became payable.

Yes, it is something that everyone moving here should be aware of and take into account in their plans, to make sure that you will be in a position to be able to go back and help when you need to.

olive
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Re: costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

Postby olive » Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:08 pm

One simple thing we have found out is that memory loss can be helped by a good diet. Specifically Vitamin B12. An elderly relative's memory became quite poor. Cause. Hospital not ensuring she ate her food and a consequent lack of B12. Same on discharge. Back onto daily cereal- a superb source and she was a changed person.

Google sources if you know someone whose memory has changed for the worse. You never know!

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Wicksey
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Re: costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

Postby Wicksey » Fri Sep 11, 2015 4:16 pm

Olive, they are convinced it all started after a course of treatment, and I know that certain drugs can do that. However, it usually does go if it was only caused by the medication. There are other symptoms apart from not remembering who her son is and it has been coming on for a few years but it's been kept from us despite seeing them a couple of times a year. Thinking back we can remember some strange events and it all makes sense now.

She doesn't eat much though, I must admit, and is convinced everyone else is grossly overweight, including my 8st sister in law. We can only suggest things to the FIL, like giving her vitamin supplements, and I know my sister in law is researching things on the internet all the time, but we don't hold out much hope.

The worse thing is how my FIL is trying to cope and not worry the rest of us. As we already know there is little point in going there as he won't let us visit, and would only leave my MIL alone for a very short spell to come out to see us when we were at a nearby hotel. He won't talk on the phone about it and although he writes most weeks he always says that she is improving. He still plans on taking her on a preplanned holiday to Normandy this month so that will be interesting! When they were there in May (they drive there twice a year) she kept accusing the Gîte owner of stealing her belongings!

We have to leave it to the sister to find out and keep us informed. She is very forthright and will try to get him to accept help if she thinks he really needs it.

Lavanda
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Re: costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

Postby Lavanda » Fri Sep 11, 2015 4:33 pm

"Trying to get them to accept help" is so hard, isn't it? In my parents' case they seem to think that the idea of someone coming to help them is the beginning of the end, or worse. :shock:

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Re: costing into the budget UK healthcare trips

Postby chrissiehope » Fri Sep 11, 2015 11:44 pm

If our original plan to move to Spain had worked out, we would now be in a very similar situation. My mother was developing dementia, and my Dad was determined to cope, but his temperament & 'victorian' upbringing meant that he really struggled when Mum went off 'with the fairies'. After a fall Mum ended up in hospital for several months - only because Social services wouldn't let her leave until she had been assessed for her care needs (by now it was accepted she would go into a home) - but they had a backlog a mile long....

Luckily, by now, Dad was coming round to the idea of a move to a care home, and luckier or more fortunate still, he had the funds to be able to choose one that would accommodate both he & Mum (who by now was in a home but none of us were happy with it), but on different levels. They have settled in well and Dad is so much more relaxed. Unfortunately he had a bad fall a couple of weeks ago, and is currenty in hospital while his broken hip socket mends.... :thumbdown: ..and Mum is missing his trips upstairs to visit her so is getting more distressed.... my sister & I have arranged a 'rota' for who is going to visit who :)

I can't imagine how I would have coped if I was living in Spain, and my admiration for you all knows no bounds :thumbup:
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