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Planning for the Unimaginable - My Parents' Story

Planning for the Unimaginable - My Parents' Story

September 10, 2020

Two years ago my parents were on a Sunday morning walk when they were struck by a ride share vehicle as they crossed an intersection.  I got the phone call from the hospital as I was grocery shopping.  The nurse on the phone said my parents were in an accident.  I just saw my parents the night before for  a Lunar Year celebration with extended family members.  The nurse had to explain a few times before it sunk in that my parents were pedestrians hit by a car.  For the next 15 minutes I walked around in circles as I tried to finish my grocery list.  I think I was just in shock and didn’t know how to respond. I left my cart, went home and we drove to Oakland to see them at the emergency room.  The news was not good.  My dad had a brain bleed and a broken leg.  My mom had two broken legs, a broken knee cap, and broken foot. 

The next week was a combination of fear, anxiety, prayer and preparation.  Luckily my parents lived and had no brain or neurological issues from the accident.  They would have a lengthy road to recovery including surgeries and a stint in a rehabilitation nursing home, but they were alive. 

The navigation of the hospital care and Medicare was handled by Melissa as she has a health care background.  Her understanding of how the system works and how patients are shifted around to maximize the profit for the hospital was critical to them getting the best care. Once my parents were done with surgeries and stable, they were pushed out of the hospital as quickly as possible.  My mom went to a nursing home for two weeks to get physical and occupational therapy.  My dad went home in a wheelchair.  

A few years earlier, my parents downsized from a home to a condo and it felt like they didn’t throw anything away.  Prior to my dad coming back home, family got together and we prepared their condo for them to move back in.  In order to accommodate two seniors in wheelchairs in a fairly small condo required removal of furniture, doors and items they would never use.  It also required the addition of shower chairs, hand rails, toilet chairs, and other adaptive equipment. 

Initially my parents needed 24 hour care as they were both in wheelchairs. They could not shower or use the restroom without help.  Home care was $25/hr.  It didn’t sound like a lot on day one, but 24 hrs/day x 7 days/week x 30 days/month of care totals to $18,000/month.  Luckily, I helped them get a Long Term Care policy 20 years ago.  This paid for the home care costs.  They were able to get back their 20 years of premium payments in about 3 months.  I handled the filing with the insurance company and coordinated with the home care agencies so they could get reimbursed by the long term care company.

After we got them settled at home, the legal battle begun.  Because this was a ride share company, this was not your typical auto insurance claim.  Unfortunately, the only way to get payment from them was to sue them.  A family member referred us to a personal injury firm.  Melissa and I spent the next 20 months helping my parents through recounting the accident, attestations, legal statements, depositions, mediation and understanding their options.

Fast forward to now and my dad is almost back to normal besides some leg pain.  My mom will permanently use a cane and does not walk the same.

Melissa and I were able to handle the different chapters of this story because of our knowledge in health care, financial planning and chronic care planning.  Without us advocating for my parents in the hospital, nursing home, home and through the lawsuit, their care and outcome would have been very different.  It is absolutely imperative that families prepare their parents and themselves for these kinds of situations with proper planning for chronic care.  Life can change in two seconds.  That morning walk in February changed my parent’s life forever.

Tracking #: 1-05050665 

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