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Eldercare in an RV
Old 06-09-2007, 03:46 PM   #1
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Eldercare in an RV

Sister one called to get my advice about the idea below. I told her I'd think about it and call her back.

Background: My 91-year-old mom is in her final stages of life. Last August the doctor estimated that she would last "weeks to months." She was in hospice but got better and was kicked out. She's not in any pain, and is comfortable, but sometimes bedridden for a week or two. Other times she can get up and go to the bathroom with her walker.

Sister One has been helping with Mom's care at Sister Three's house (near Tacoma, WA), but would like to take Mom to Sister One's house in upstate New York. Mom is not well enough to take a commercial flight across the country. So Sister One's idea is to buy a used camper for $12,500 (from a friend), and drive Mom across the country along with Sister Two.

What do you see as the pros and cons of this idea? Note that the obvious problem, namely that the stress of the trip might kill her, is not as important as you might think. Mom is tired of just waiting around to die, and not interested in just sitting around in order to prolong her life.
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Old 06-09-2007, 03:57 PM   #2
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So Sister One's idea is to buy a used camper for $12,500 (from a friend), and drive Mom across the country along with Sister Two.
What do you see as the pros and cons of this idea?
Road trip!! What a great idea.

Is the doctor going to fuss at you guys?

Does your mother still have a valid driver's license & insurance?

This is a once-in-a-lifetime memory that I'm not trying to cheapen, but does renting an RV make more sense than buying? For example $12K might pay for a really luxurious rental ride that's not going to jounce or rock&roll and whose maintenance/repair expenses/inconvenience would be fully covered.

Would your Mom be safely wearing a seatbelt or would she be likely to get up and wander around?

Is there an issue with breaking down in the middle of nowhere? Cell phone? AAA roadside assistance or RV towing insurance?

What a great opportunity for memories. I'd take lots of photos, video, and whatever audio recordings Mom was willing to help with. Maybe you could let Oprah know your route so she could send a crew along...
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Old 06-09-2007, 04:01 PM   #3
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By "used camper", do you mean a travel trailer, or a motor home?
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Old 06-09-2007, 04:13 PM   #4
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Quote:
Is the doctor going to fuss at you guys?
No.

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Does your mother still have a valid driver's license & insurance?
No, she'd be a passenger only.

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Would your Mom be safely wearing a seatbelt or would she be likely to get up and wander around?
She'd be lying down in a bed in the back. Do RVs have seatbelts designed for that situation? What is the law in this case?

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Is there an issue with breaking down in the middle of nowhere?
Yes.

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By "used camper", do you mean a travel trailer, or a motor home?
Not a trailer. I don't know more, but DS said there is a bed above the cab, so I'm figuring a class C.
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Old 06-09-2007, 04:14 PM   #5
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I think this is a wonderful idea, assuming your mom is game to go. Make sure she has all necessary medications and gear and her advance directive is with her. If she doesn't have one of those, she needs one now.
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Old 06-09-2007, 04:16 PM   #6
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Concerning renting -- the idea would be to buy this used camper and then sell it later. DS looked into renting, but because of the direction and drop off fees, or something, the rental cost was prohibitive.
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Old 06-09-2007, 04:17 PM   #7
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The two big issues I see are:

- As Nords mentioned, breaking down in the middle of nowhere - or anywhere for that matter. Could take several days to get the necessary parts to get repairs done. What would your sisters do in that situation?

- Unpleasant as it might be, have your sisters considered what they would do if your mom died enroute?
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Old 06-09-2007, 04:44 PM   #8
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I want to hear more about the camper. Many campers would not be all that comfortable on the bed in the back as you travel. There may be quite a bit of motion, plus squeaks and rattles that are common in older rvs. Be nice if one of you could tryout the bed while it is moving.

Otherwise, if mom wants to do it, I would do it. Even if there is a risk she will die on the road.
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Old 06-09-2007, 05:24 PM   #9
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Better be prepared for medical emergencies. Plot known hospitals along the way. They should probably purchase a GPS with/or plus Map software.

I think some of the map software will show where services are located. They might show where hospitals are located along the way.
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Old 06-09-2007, 05:36 PM   #10
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I would be afraid that this is an idea which sounds better in theory than in reality. You've got the health risks well thought out.

But bathrooms in small RVs are not generally easy to maneuver for anything more than a quick pitstop. Hygiene may not be easy to maintain. And there is essentially no privacy for either party, if that counts. Some of the places you might camp may have rough terrain to get around in if she did leave the camper. Holding tanks have to be drained, and if you need to get in to town for supplies it's not always easy with a motorhome.

To me, a more comfortable idea would be to plan the trip carefully, staying at motels along the way, well laid out in advance. Get a class B so that the on-the-road days will be comfortable: she can sleep, use the bathroom, you can stock up on her favorite foods and drinks. If you had to camp in a pinch for a night you could, but it would only be for the unexpectedly full motel, etc. But it would be a standard roadtrip with the added luxuries of a rolling motel room.

Just an alternate idea.
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As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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Old 06-09-2007, 05:56 PM   #11
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sounds on surface like a great idea and i'm all for keeping life as normal as possible for as long as possible but foremost in my thinking would be to do what will keep mom most safe & comfortable. if that means everyone traveling to see mom and spending some time camping out at sister in washington, then i'd play that card instead. i mean, what happens if she survives the trip, (pardon my bluntness but) then she'll just be waiting to die on the east coast instead?
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Old 06-09-2007, 06:06 PM   #12
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Al, please forgive me for saying this, but this idea is just too damn reminiscent of Aunt Edna tied to the roof of the station wagon in "National Lampoon's Vacation".
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Old 06-09-2007, 06:20 PM   #13
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How close does AmTrac come to your NY sister's house?

Book a bedroom on the SEA-CHI train, then something similar eastward.

They have handicapped bathrooms available and may even have a handicapped sleeper.
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Old 06-09-2007, 06:48 PM   #14
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How close does AmTrac come to your NY sister's house?

Book a bedroom on the SEA-CHI train, then something similar eastward.

They have handicapped bathrooms available and may even have a handicapped sleeper.
Nice idea. Amtrak trains do have a roomy handicapped sleeper with an easy to use in room toilet. However, the train can rock a fair amount which will make it difficult for mom to get up and move around. They will deliver food to the room.
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Old 06-09-2007, 07:28 PM   #15
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Amtrak from Seattle to Penn Station NY looks like $240/person + $943 for a "roomette" (suggested occupancy 2). Might be smoother than a motor home, maybe less stress for all concerned. Betcha they are better prepared for medical emergencies or death. 65 hour trip, though i don't know if that includes the 6 hour layover in Chi-town. Shorter than the 7 days or so driving will take. No need to be driving if Mom starts getting really bad. No need to be worrying about selling a big 'ol gas hog motor home after the trip. What? 3000miles @ 6mpg = 500 gallons @$3.25 = $1625?

Is there any insurance other than medicare? Is it good in all the states traveled through?

Good luck - a tough time.
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Old 06-09-2007, 07:53 PM   #16
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Al, please forgive me for saying this, but this idea is just too damn reminiscent of Aunt Edna tied to the roof of the station wagon in "National Lampoon's Vacation".
That was my first thought but I thought I would wait for someone else to mention it.
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Old 06-09-2007, 08:16 PM   #17
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Nice idea. Amtrak trains do have a roomy handicapped sleeper with an easy to use in room toilet. However, the train can rock a fair amount which will make it difficult for mom to get up and move around. They will deliver food to the room.
I had a handicap sleeper from L.A. to Chicago several years ago, and the ride was very stable...not hardly any rockin' & rollin'. The handicap sleepers are on the lower level of the car (of the bi-level cars). They are quite 'roomy', although they're is only sleeping accommodations for 2 people....and upper berth (climb the ladder) and a lower berth (about the same as a regular single bed). The room is the width of the train car...about 9-10 feet wide, and roughly the same length.

I'm not sure what equipment is used on the Chi-NY run...whether single-level or bi-level. I've never been in the single-level sleepers.

The car attendants are extremely accommodating also. They are paid to assist you, and all the attendants that I dealt with over the years were great!

If you decide on the train option....book as early as possible, because sleepers go FAST!!! And there really aren't that many sleepers per train....and only one handicapped per train car!
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Old 06-09-2007, 08:31 PM   #18
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I had a handicap sleeper from L.A. to Chicago several years ago, and the ride was very stable...not hardly any rockin' & rollin'. The handicap sleepers are on the lower level of the car (of the bi-level cars). They are quite 'roomy', although they're is only sleeping accommodations for 2 people....and upper berth (climb the ladder) and a lower berth (about the same as a regular single bed). The room is the width of the train car...about 9-10 feet wide, and roughly the same length.

I'm not sure what equipment is used on the Chi-NY run...whether single-level or bi-level. I've never been in the single-level sleepers.

The car attendants are extremely accommodating also. They are paid to assist you, and all the attendants that I dealt with over the years were great!

If you decide on the train option....book as early as possible, because sleepers go FAST!!! And there really aren't that many sleepers per train....and only one handicapped per train car!
I have done this route on Amtrak. It is two nights between Seattle and Chicago and another night to NY. There is the wait in Chicago, with a pretty comfortable lounge for sleeper passengers. But nevertheless, it is a fairly long wait with no place to lie down.

You absolutely do not want a roomette--too small for anyone in my mind. Goonie, I have only ridden on the upper level, good to hear that it is fairly smooth down below. The trains on this route are all bi-level trains.

Here is a picture of the deluxe sleeper on the Empire Builder, the train running from Seattle and Chicago:

Here is the train:
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Old 06-09-2007, 09:14 PM   #19
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You absolutely do not want a roomette--too small for anyone in my mind. Goonie, I have only ridden on the upper level, good to hear that it is fairly smooth down below. The trains on this route are all bi-level trains.
I've ridden in the upper level, also. And those 'roomettes' ARE extremely tiny! Kind of like a closet with bunk beds! And the toity was downstairs.
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Old 06-09-2007, 10:25 PM   #20
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Does your mother want to do this?

You say she is not well enough to take a flight across the country, but you all are thinking about a week long trip? I too, am trying to be as gentle as I can, but it seems that too many things can go wrong.

If she were to get ill during the trek, she would end up in a hospital away from home. Depending on the circumstances, she could be there for days and I assume would be difficult on you all.

It's a wonderful and sweet gesture...wish I had a suggestion for an alternative. If you do decide to do this, I wish you all the best.
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