Author Topic: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?  (Read 4922 times)

Dicey

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Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« on: January 28, 2015, 08:19:08 PM »
My parents are nearing the end of their lives. We are moving them home to live out their final days as they no longer qualify for skilled nursing care, ugh.
We need to buy non-pull-up diapers, bed pads and gloves. Are there mustachian ways to obtain these items?

Dad's been home one day and has gone through 15 diapers, so we're going to need a lot. He can't stand, so pull-ups won't work, or I'd be buying them at Costco. My parents are not indigent, but their funds are limited. Medicare does not cover these items, so any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2015, 08:49:55 PM »
I don't have any suggestions, but I just want to offer sympathy. My parents are in assisted living. It's not any fun for anyone.

ltt

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2015, 08:52:48 PM »
Personally, I would look at what Amazon has to offer.  If you pay the annual fee (it's something like $99 or such), you can get the "free" shipping.  We order through Amazon often.  I've ordered a high-calorie drink for my daughter here--much cheaper than going through insurance, plus it's delivered directly to my front door--no going to pick up at the pharmacy.  We just pay for it out-of-pocket--not worth turning into insurance because they always seem to lose things. 

Dicey

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2015, 10:43:13 PM »
Thanks, Itt, but in my experience Amazon prices can usually be beat without a whole lotta effort. I may be a contrarian here, but buying from Amazon feels like paying retail to me. Since I need to order supplies asap and know little about the topic, I thought I'd tap into the resources of the MMM community to save a little time and/or locate reputable and fairly priced suppliers.

Thanks to you too, Nora. It's hard because my MIL has Alzheimer's and lives with us, so I can't spend as much time with my parents (6 hours south) as I would like. My Mom's a diabetic, so most assisited living places won't take her, but she's not sick enough a for skilled nursing facility. Ironic because she was Director of Nurses in a SNF for 25 years. The facility she ran has changed hands and my folks have moved to another area, so it's not an option, alas.

Their situation is compounded by the fact that my chronically unemployed sister, who was their primary caregiver, has developed an ugly sense of entitlement. She has been dipping into their funds and blowing the money. Oy vey. I'd like to throttle her, but my parents are very dependent on her and don't fully realize how much money is gone. We could easily have her arrested, but it wouldn't do anything but break my parent's hearts. The rest of us have decided it's best just to keep her away from my folks' accounts and manage the money that's left as frugally as possible.

I'm going to add here that although it might seem like my life sucks, in point of fact, it very much does not. It's partly because I'm FIRE, which is worth every bit of the sacrifice it took to get there. If I had to juggle this and a job, it would be exponentially more difficult.

lakemom

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2015, 05:12:48 AM »
There's a cashback site (like ebates) that is for home medical supplies...but I can't think what it is called.  Maybe google around and look for it.  Also try things like drugstore.com and similar to see what is being offered.

Also, look into you being paid the medicare caregiver stipend....this may help you to cover the costs of their needed supplies.  Sorry I can't be of more help but a prayer for you to have strength while you deal with end of life issues.

RelaxedGal

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2015, 07:33:20 AM »
I haven't been on the lookout for those sorts of items, but the best prices for Tylenol/vitamins/diaper cream I've found are at the pharmacy associated with my doctor's office (Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Massachusetts).  SImilarly the pharmacy at my Mother's hospital in Michigan has the best prices on over the counter items.  Grandma gets my Mom to pick up baby aspirin, bandages, etc.  The prices are better than Sam's club even.  Check with your local hospital, because I don't know if all states or hospital systems have a pharmacy store like that, but if they do I bet they'd have very good prices.

Best Wishes!

lizzzi

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2015, 07:50:51 PM »
I know you said you didn't want to use Amazon Prime, but that would still be my recommendation. I cared for an elderly relative here at home for the last four months of his life, and it was very difficult for me to leave him and go shop. Walmart's prices are good, but they tend to be out of everything…not worth the gas and the time to go there and find empty shelves. The selection and choice on Amazon, plus having things delivered to the door in bulk and in two days was  so much easier than anything else I could think of. You are going to need to buy gloves and adult diapers by the case, but try out some brands first to see what you like best before you buy a whole case of it. Check with your local Office for the Aging (may have a different name in your area)--they may have some ideas. Perhaps some kind of case management person can come out and make an assessment to give you some suggestions for your home care plan--someone from Aging, or from your county. I don't know how close to the end of life your parents are, but Hospice at home is 100% billed to Medicare, and that includes all the supplies that they provide. (Gloves, chux, adult diapers, bath supplies,all the durable medical equipment etc., etc.) The admission criteria can vary a little from Hospice to Hospice. My loved one was in the final stages of Alzheimers, but it was impossible to say that he had a six-month prognosis. One local Hospice refused to take him without a firm six-month prognosis. Another local Hospice was more flexible, and did take dementia clients without a firm prognosis. My loved one died in four months, but the Hospice staff told me that they had carried dementia clients as long as three years or so. This might be something you could look into, just for future reference if nothing else.

lizzzi

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2015, 08:04:49 PM »
Forgot to say that a pharmacy that does automatic refills and makes home deliveries is a big help. You could call around and see if any of the local drugstores will do that.

Have just been re-reading your posts. So your MIL with Alzheimers lives with you. And your parents…towards the end of their lives…are six hours away with the irresponsible adult daughter? That is going to be difficult in terms of what I guess you would call case management and coordination of care.  Can you give us more information about the  health status of your Dad, and how he is functioning? How is your Mom's mental status? Is she sharp enough to monitor him? Or maybe I am over-reacting….sorry…I see that you were just asking about home health supplies…not for advice on how to manage three frail elderly people. (Just trying to be helpful…not trying to be a buttinsky.)

Dicey

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2015, 09:56:17 AM »
Thanks, lizzi, you're not being a buttinsky at all. It was kind of you to actually read and absorb the details and I am touched by your caring response. Sorry, if this is tl;dr.

1. MIL and her pal Al live with us in NorCal. She's healthy as a horse, but mentally probably Stage 5. DH and I joke that she just might outlive us all.
2. Dad is in SoCal, early Alzheimer's, congestive heart failure. On an ER visit, he was given meds that made him loopy and sent home. There, he fell three times and finally broke his hip. He had a partial replacement and just isn't interested in his own recovery. Still has a cheerful attitide, but is unable to get out of bed unassisted. He just wants to be home and with mom.
3. Mom has COPD and diabetes. She had a pulmonary embolism and is just not bouncing back. In and out of lucidity, can't get up, doesn't seem to care where she is. When lucid, says she doesn't want to live like this.

For clarification: Both parents had their latest issues at about the same time, so they have been in the same skilled nursing facility since October. Initially, their awesome insurance paid for everything. Now, since they are not improving, their insurance won't pay any more and they can't afford the $12K/month tab. Assisted Living isn't an option as mom is insulin dependent.

Six siblings, all on the same page, except for the "irresponsible adult daughter". She is no longer their caretaker and she did a shitty job of it when she was, IMHO, but my parents are attached to her because she's the one that lives the closest and they love their grandson. She got the position by default as she was an unemployed single mom who didn't want to get a job. She has been paid handsomely over the past four years, but in the last year the wheels have fallen off her bus. She's smoking, drinking and gambling on my parent's dollars without their knowledge. My Mom is not an easy person, so no one begrudged her the money she earned. When the stealing was exposed and the bank and my Mom's doctor started to hint at elder abuse, the rest of us realized it was time to make other arrangements. Sadly, the amount of money she has leached (and leeched) from my parents means that what should have been easily covered expenses are now not easy at all. Their main asset is their house, but since all Dad wants is to go home, selling it is out of the question. I'd consider a reverse mortgage, but not everyone's on board and I don't think convincing them is the best use of my time or energy right now. Their monthly income stream is $6k pre-tax, so if we're very careful, we should be able to make it work or at least get close.

A dear friend of mine who is at a crossroads in her life and has elder care experience offered to be their live-in caretaker, so we flew her in last week. She is smart, kind and compassionate, but is unable to lift. Our plan is to supplement caregivers who can lift on a however-often-is-needed basis. I'm trying to do what I can from a distance, so I want to handle the supply end of things so she doesn't have to go out and shop in an area she is completely unfamiliar with. Dad has been home for two days and Mom is due home today. He's burned through almost all of the supplies we laid in when we were there last week, so I need to figure this out fast.

I know that was a lot of info. Writing helps me process and my MIL's not up yet, so I had some alone time to think. Sorry if that was TMI.

be

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2015, 10:47:36 AM »
I don't have anything to add, but hang in there.

lizzzi

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2015, 04:07:05 PM »
I'm still going to suggest that you get some kind of local eldercare case manager--hopefully somebody for free--like from the county they live in--either a county public health nurse or perhaps someone from their Office for the Aging--to go in there and do a complete home care assessment of the situation. A professional pair of eyes may see something that you have not thought of, and may be able to offer useful suggestions. The situation is very complex, and while your friend is probably going to be an asset, she is not a health care provider and could probably benefit from the input and suggestions of a professional…especially that she seems to have some deficits herself. (i.e. can't lift.) If she can't do the transfers, (and what about grocery bags and whatnot?), it sounds like you're going to need some private-pay home care aides, or perhaps a hydraulic lift, if your friend can be trained to use it. Again, reasons to get a professional to take a look, even if all they do is a complimentary assessment visit. (Always ask whether or not there's a charge for the assessment visit, btw.) Try to see what services you can get through your county public health system or Office for Aging…they shouldn't have a financial dog in the fight, and should give you an unbiased, unvarnished assessment. It may be that what they recommend will cost your parents money, (durable medical equipment, private vendor agencies for the aide, whatever),  but at least you are starting out with people who won't try to make a profit from your parents' misfortunes.

Full disclosure: I was a public health nurse in Duchess county, NY for 20 years. What I did was mostly eldercare management, although we didn't call it that. Then worked for a private vendor agency for four years as their regional trainer--covered six mid-Hudson valley counties, doing in services and teaching the home health aide and personal care worker classes.

lizzzi

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2015, 04:09:12 PM »
And 20 years experience as a hospital nurse before that.

NCGal

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2015, 05:25:55 PM »
I feel for you Diane. I've been dealing with assisted living, hospital, and my mother's death and now assisted living, hospital rehab, nursing home, nursing home transfer, for my aunt.

I was also going to mention a hydraulic lift. It might be possible for someone to get some training to use it. You also may be able to rent one from a medical supply company.

Check this site out:
http://stuffseniorsneed.com/blog/free-diapers-for-seniors/
The person who runs it lists several suppliers that give out free samples. Perhaps if you find something suitable you might negotiate to buy them at cost.

MayDay

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2015, 06:50:39 PM »
As a former hospice volunteer, and the daughter of a hospice nurse, you need to call hospice stat.

Find a non-profit hospice (the for profit ones tend to value profit more than providing the best possible care) that has been around a while.  Call them and ask them to do an intake assessment ASAP for both of your parents.  My feeling from what you have posted is that they would both qualify- borderline, and depending on how flexible the hospice is- you will have a much more flexible hospice if they are non-profit!

Even if your parents don't qualify quite yet, the eval will give you an idea of how soon to eval again, or what declines to look for.  Hospice doesn't provide nursing care round the clock, but it can provide an aid to help with bathing/lifting, and often times they can provide a few days respite care in a nursing home, hospice house, or hospital wing if your caregiver friend needs a break.  And as mentioned, they will provide medical supplies. 

Be warned that some family members may freak out about this, because it requires them to acknowledge that their loved one is not going to bounce back.

Dicey

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2015, 06:59:23 PM »
Good news. Not one but two hydraulic lifts were delivered today! My mom is scheduled to get home tonight and a visiting nurse is coming first thing in the morning. A social worker will be calling on them on Tuesday. There has been some discussion that my mom may qualify for hospice, so I'll hold off on ordering metric craptons of supplies for a couple of days. We have found a private pay health care aide and she and my friend are getting along well so far. We will continue to add services as needed.

My brother and I decided that this experience was like being given a puzzle to solve without a photo of what it's supposed to look like and with no picture printed on the puzzle pieces. We're feeling our way through this gingerly. I think it's the way first-time parents feel when they bring the baby home. Scary as shit, but hopefully everybody adjusts to their new roles quickly.

Funny, with all her years of experience, you'd think it would somehow be easier for my mom, but it doesn't seem to make any difference. I've decided I want to be hit by a bus on my 99th birthday with my faculties (except my vision, perhaps) intact.

I cannot stress enough how awesome it felt to be able to pay their five figure bill with no worries of how I was going to cover it. All that scrimping and saving over the years really does pay off. People wax poetic about how good it will feel when they finally pay off their credit card/student loans/mortgage/whatever, but I'm here to tell you it pales in comparison to helping my family get through this. My folks have the money, but jumping through the hoops to access it is going to take a fair amount of time and effort. In the meantime, it gives all of us a much appreciated measure of peace.

MayDay, thanks. Our posts crossed in the ether. Due to the nature of my mom's work, we are all fairly conversant on these issues and no one is freaking out, except for the one sister, but her demons are her own, not my parent's. We all know this is the end. We just want to pull together and make it as gentle and graceful as possible.

And Be, thanks for the kind words. Now you know why you hardly hear from me these days.

Dicey

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2015, 12:40:41 PM »
As a former hospice volunteer, and the daughter of a hospice nurse, you need to call hospice stat.

Find a non-profit hospice (the for profit ones tend to value profit more than providing the best possible care) that has been around a while.  Call them and ask them to do an intake assessment ASAP for both of your parents.  My feeling from what you have posted is that they would both qualify- borderline, and depending on how flexible the hospice is- you will have a much more flexible hospice if they are non-profit!

Even if your parents don't qualify quite yet, the eval will give you an idea of how soon to eval again, or what declines to look for.  Hospice doesn't provide nursing care round the clock, but it can provide an aid to help with bathing/lifting, and often times they can provide a few days respite care in a nursing home, hospice house, or hospital wing if your caregiver friend needs a break.  And as mentioned, they will provide medical supplies. 

Be warned that some family members may freak out about this, because it requires them to acknowledge that their loved one is not going to bounce back.

Thanks, Mayday. How do I determine if a hospice is for-profit or non-profit? Are they required to disclose this up front?

be

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2015, 03:33:15 PM »
Good to see you're making some progress.  Hang in there, and resist the temptation to hang anyone. ;)

Dicey

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2015, 08:47:31 PM »
Hi folks,
Just a fast update. Mom died on Sunday. She was in a fair amount of pain and ready to go, so we're glad she's at peace now. When my sister told my dad the news, his response was "Oh, the love of my life." They were married for fifty-nine years. Thanks for all of your support and advice during this last phase of their lives.
Diane

Frankies Girl

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2015, 09:04:26 PM »
Oh my goodness.

I know you were preparing for the end, but it still is so hard even knowing what is coming. I'm so sorry for your loss.

lizzzi

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2015, 07:08:32 AM »
So sorry for your loss. What a nice picture of you and your parents. Wishing you and your Dad and the rest of the family a measure of peace in this hard time. It's never easy.

Workinghard

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Re: Do you have a good US source for Home Medical Supplies?
« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2015, 09:36:14 AM »
Diane, I just saw the thread and saw I missed some of the more recent posts.  I am so very sorry for your loss. It's never easy even when it's semi-expected.