Skip to comments.How Do We Care for the Elderly?
Posted on 10/22/2011 4:28:52 AM PDT by Kaslin
Last week, the Obama administration dropped one of the signature provisions of its healthcare plan. The CLASS Act (Community Living Assistance Services) was intended to provide affordable insurance for long-term care to individuals who, because of infirmity or age, could no longer care for themselves. But the reality that not enough healthy Americans would sign up to make it self-supporting finally doomed the program.
Many opponents of Obamacare will no doubt cheer this turn of events because it confirms the view that we cannot afford to, in essence, nationalize health care. I agree --but I also recognize that the problem that the CLASS Act was trying to address is a legitimate concern for which we now have no workable solutions.
The nation faces a looming crisis in caring for the elderly, whose life expectancy often exceeds their ability to live independently. Millions of Americans need long-term care, but we currently have no system that adequately provides it a cost that most Americans can afford.
This topic holds more than public policy interest for me. Three years ago, my then-87-year-old mother came to live with me when it became clear that it wasn't safe for her to continue to live on her own. Although in good health, my mother is virtually blind and quite frail. She values her independence, prepares all her own meals, has excellent long- and short-term memory and follows the news avidly. But without daily assistance, she could not shop for food, get to the doctor or clean her own living space.
Last week, however, her situation changed dramatically. After returning from a doctor's visit, my mother fell on the last step of a steep climb down from the car to our home. I was just a few feet away from her when I heard her hit the floor. In that instant, her life and future changed dramatically. She broke her hip -- the scourge of the elderly -- and within 24 hours had undergone partial hip replacement surgery. Three days later, she was released from the hospital.
Medicare provides coverage for up to 100 days in a rehabilitation facility so long as the patient needs daily services that can be provided only by a doctor or nurse or is receiving the rehabilitation therapies provided and making progress. But when the 100 days are over, the patient is on his or her own. My mother is now in an excellent rehabilitation center in Boulder, Colo. -- but it's unclear what will happen when she's released.
If you're very wealthy and can afford upwards of $60,000 a year in private, long-term care, the alternative of an assisted living facility is available. But what if you don't have those means? I would gladly take my mother back into my home, but I don't think it's feasible for her to continue to live there. If we can manage to get her down those same steep stairs and into the house again, she'll be trapped there indefinitely, unable to go to the doctor, grocery or anywhere else except to the hospital if she falls and injures herself again. And she'll need someone with her 24 hours a day.
Since my mother has never owned a home or any other assets -- only a meager Social Security and Veterans' pension and the help I've provided since my father died -- she is eligible for Medicaid. And unlike Medicare, Medicaid does provide coverage for long-term care. But having visited the local facilities that accept Medicaid, I can tell you the decent ones have long waiting lists -- a year or more -- and the ones that don't have waiting lists break a daughter's heart. I simply cannot imagine putting her in one of these crowded, dreary, hopeless places.
Currently, 40 million Americans are age 65 and older, and of these, nearly 6 million are 85 years of age or older. One in 5 elderly Americans are currently considered dependent, but the proportion will grow to nearly 40 percent by 2050. We continue to expand the frontiers of life expectancy, but we have yet to figure out how to care for our ever-growing population of older Americans.
The administration's failure to come up with a feasible plan to solve the problem is no cheering matter. We must find a way -- not only for our parents but for all of our sakes.
By letting the families they lovingly raised, and their churches they faithfully attended—do it, while getting rid of the government socialism that robs their ability to care for themselves in the first place.
I don't understand what you mean by "trapped."
The fact that the writer expects someone else to pay for, and care for, his/her ailing mother tells you what that means...Having worked in the healthdare field, I am familiar with these types of children. It’s part of the communist plan to make everyone part of the welfare states. Separate parents from their children by indoctrinating people to believe children are a burden, then when they grow up, reinforce to children that their parent’s aren’t worthy of their time or money. There’s nothing new about this, once upon a time it was referred to as Corban.
We don’t care for the elderly.We warehouse them in some of the most expensive nursing homes around.They are poorly managed from what I have seen and the patients usually get substandard care.
People that can’t fend for are not even fed usually since there is not enough staffing or the staff is busy doing things that have nothing to do with patient care.
The supervision of those same people is attrocious.I only hope that should I get to that point in my life I’m not left to die of starvation in a nursing home.
I don’t get that from the article at all. Ms. Chavez is simply stating that a solution must be found.
She is a moderate-to-conservative commentator, not a friggin’ communist!
“And she’ll need someone with her 24 hours a day.”
My wife and I have taken care of my mother, who has very advanced Alzheimer’s, for the past eight and one half years. She has outlived all of the early predictions of her death by almost five years now, is bed ridden, and cannot communicate except by her wonderful smile and the occasional pat on the hand of the person feeding her.
Five years ago, we took advantage of a “respite” program that the local hospice offered and put mother in a nursing home for four days while we took a very short, belated “honeymoon”. When we came back, Mom had been starved almost to death. After that, we made the decision together that she would be with us and we with her, no matter her condition, until she died.
In most cases, our parents put their love for their children ahead of their own personal wants and desires for many years. Why should they not be honored by us in their decline by knowing that we are going to be there for them as they walk their last mile?
I find this incomprehensible. My own mother disliked her mother-in-law intensely, and had the means to put my grandmother in a lavish setting with a legion of nurses; but my grandmother wanted to be with family when she started to fail. She lived with us five years, and NO nurses -- my mother did it all herself, and got over her disaffection in the process.
That's all of one experience, however. But how did people take care of their elderly up until recently? And why do they call it a family if they don't provide for their own? The more government becomes "humane," the less individuals retain that quality. We are seeing the natural bonds loosen.
Your post made me cry, Big Harry. The love, compassion, sympathy and kindness that you are showing your Mother is amazing and admirable. You are a wonderful son and your wife is an angel.
God love ya, Big_Harry!
“your wife is an angel.”
You certainly have that part right! :)
With how long people are living, you have 70+ year old “children” trying to take care of 90+ year old parents.
I acknowledge that there are a fair number of 70+ year old people who are hale and hearty, but many are not. They would not have the physical strength and stamina to render round the clock care to a 90+ year old parent.
You could do down a generation or two and try to tap the 50+ year old grandchildren or the 30+ year old great-grandchildren. But they have their own set of responsibilities (full time jobs and rearing children) and precious few extended families live in proximity to each other.
I fully understand Chavez’ points but have no idea what the solution is.
**Ms. Chavez is simply stating that a solution must be found**.
She is advocating that Government must find a solution.
Clearly she has the resources to hire a qualified live-in caregiver and I wonder why she hasn’t considered it.
The fact that life expectancy has been extended by superior health care from birth to middle age - has not prepared families for the inevitable decline for the aged over 70.
When families consisted of parents, several children, aunts uncles, cousins - family members rotated the care of their elderly patriarchs & matriarchs (Japanese still do). It is a cultural thing - and we have lost that culture.
Thanks Lady Lucky,
My wife and I have been blessed beyond measure by having mother in our house. We have seen professionals quit their jobs to take care of their own parents because of the testimony that God has given to us through our care for Mom. We have “converted” several liberal nurses to the conservative cause, witnessed to many others the love of Christ, (well, my wife has! She says that I speak the truth and she supplies the love... ...and the spiritual band-aids).
Agreed, which is exactly why I said:
“while getting rid of the government socialism that robs their ability to care for themselves in the first place.”
What evidence that was presented in the article leads you to that conclusion? I couldn't find any.
When families consisted of parents, several children, aunts uncles, cousins - family members rotated the care of their elderly patriarchs & matriarchs (Japanese still do). It is a cultural thing - and we have lost that culture.
My family hasn't.
Good points and question.
There are some private companies that provide qualified, nursing/daily care for the home-bound, frail elderly.
It is probably quite expensive - but a better alternative than warehousing parents in nursing homes.
For elderly parents who have several adult, working children - they could pool their resources and rotate living arrangements. Workable- if they ‘plan ahead’.
Linda Chavez could afford it.
This comment leads me to believe that she has not.
***I would gladly take my mother back into my home, but I don’t think it’s feasible for her to continue to live there. If we can manage to get her down those same steep stairs and into the house again, she’ll be trapped there indefinitely, unable to go to the doctor, grocery or anywhere else except to the hospital if she falls and injures herself again. And she’ll need someone with her 24 hours a day.***
You are blessed to have a wonderful family that still holds to the tradition of caring. (Please adopt me;)
I know a liberal, whose mom is failing at a fairly early age (72). He is researching who he can pawn her off on....I suggested maybe he should take her in, under his roof. You’d think I had shot the pope, with the look he gave me. That option is, apparently, outrageous.
The current U.S. life expectancy is 80, but I thoroughly expect it to rise as long as the quality of medicine improves (unless obesity and being overweight kills off many before they get there, which is possible, as nearly 70% of our population is overfat). The average age of first time mothers is 25 years old, meaning that even at 80 years old, their eldest child (in general) is under 55. So, you’re example of 90 year olds running around with 70+ year old children is an extremely, extremely, rare example. 85 years olds with 65 year old children is a stretch of logic, but not unimaginable, but it would still be an outlier. People had children, younger, 60 years, ago, so there is a little variability, but the example you gave is highly, highly, illogical.
Rather than focus on the tiny group of virtually impossible cases you presented, we can discuss the far more plausible 75-80 year olds with 45-55 year old children and 20-30 year old grandchildren. They could all contribute to taking care of their progenitors, either financially OR physically.
“I fully understand Chavez points but have no idea what the solution is.”
I do, it’s get government out of people’s lives, out of the “retirement” (actually it’s distribution of wealth), out of medicine, and out of education. I cannot understand why people choose to believe the lie that Government does ANYTHING well. Without government medical redistribution, and cronyism, the cost of medical care would be a mere fraction of what it is today. Without the government theft of wealth, people could save and pay for their own care in their later years (as another poster mentioned). Without government regulation at ALL levels, people could make money from their ingenuity, and from home. Government NEVER makes anything better, especially Federal Government, which is why it was limited in it’s function to only 20 some odd functions by the very Founders of this nation. NONE of them are involved in theft to “care” for the elderly. And THAT is precisely the problem, people are always expecting someone else to be forced to pay for them. Charity is Godly, theft is anything but. People once upon a time cared for each other and pulled together. That will happen less and less as long as people look to unelected czars and elected thieves to steal from others to provide them with security.
It does not surprise me that he wants to pawn her off. It shows the hypocrisy of the left. They are doing the exact thing they are accusing us of doing
My mother was an ogre my entire life, abused me throughout my xhildhood, and became even more vicious and unpleasant when elderly. I could not stand her. Yet when she became infirm and bedridden, I couldn’t put her into one of those places - I didn’t hate her enough. I kept her at home with two health aides. During those three years I saw so much fraud and waste from the system. It’s just an empty billing system to steal your money.
You overcame what I believe is one of the worst handicaps anyone can possibly be born with: an abusive mother. You are remarkably blessed, kabumpo!
When my father-in-law’s health began to take a turn for the worse with his Parkinson’s, my husband and I wanted to take him to live with us. But, my mother-in-law convinced us that there was no way we could have taken care of him. And I think she was right. He was a big man who would leave the house and wander around in the middle of the night. He would fall down often and I would not have been able to pick him up if it happened during the day when my husband was working. And not only that, but he could have fallen on my young children and hurt them. It got me to thinking that the wonders of modern medicine keep up alive a long time, but not always in a state that allows people to care for us. It killed us to not be able to help, but it just wasn’t feasible.
See, you’ve outlined the situation exactly It’s not as cut and dried as people make it out.
I’m in my eearly 40’s and already disabled. My other is 21 years older than me. I’m an only child. Where are we going to be in 20 years if my mom is seriously infirm? I won’t be able to do it. I’ll probably be in worse shape than she’s in.
One of the problems is that Boomers simply didn’t have enough children. Back when having 6-8 kids was the norm, caring for ‘mom’ was a lot less of a burden. You had multiple people who could share the load - both the physical and financial.
The other problem is that not all of these elderly become sweet, loving, docile people in their old age. My own grandmother has become angry, paranoid and abusive. She can’t take care of herself, but she’ll physically beat anyone out of her apartment with her cane who dares try to help her clean. (Frail my@$$. An 86 year old woman can do a lot of damage with a cane.) She’s confused, so she loses things then accuses everyone of stealing from her. (And I mean seriously accuses - even calling the police - when she can’t find things like her hand lotion. It gets ‘stuck’ in her head and she won’t let it go, even after you find it and give it back to her.) She’s a hoarder and won’t let anyone take out her garbage. (It’s all important and needs to be saved - even adult diapers.)
So far, we can’t find a facility that’ll accept her. The only one who’s considering it would have to heavily medicate her.
And she refuses to go.
So what do you do with a physically violent, emotionally abusive, confused, angry person who can’t take care of themselves? We’ve already decided that she can’t stay with anyone with children. We won’t have our children abused by anyone - even family.
Our family needs help. So where do we turn? We can’t afford to pay for it ourselves.
Yup. We have to turn to the government. Nobody wants to have her committed - but she beats off the home nurses and maids. She won’t even let her own sons and daughters help her.
The idea of taking care of a frail, sweet granny is very Norman Rockwell. But the reality of an aging mind can be a lot more horrific.
(My family resorts to dark humor for times like these. Right now, the joke that keeps us going is; “The thing about going insane is that *you* feel fine. In your mind, everyone around you is crazy! *SHE’S* not suffering in the least!”)
We do not have the solutions to these problems.
Well, from personal experience. My MIL came to live with us when my FIL passed away, no real problem until the end because she was in relatively good health and mobile until a month before she died. My sister had my dad live with her after his stroke, instead of going to a rehab, and the therapists came to her house.
BUT, my mom feel ill. We brought her home (to my parent’s house) because we didn’t want to put her in a nursing home, or a long term specialty hospital (that’s what the doctor’s recommended.) She lingered for 14 months, unable to walk, unable to feed herself, unable to get out of bed, unable to turn over by herself. She was coherent, not always rational, but never lost cognition to the point of not recognizing everyone who came to visit her and being able to carry on a conversation.
We hired round the clock CNAs, but luckily my sisters and I live close (and each of us has a flexible work schedule) because one of us needed to be there, sometimes 3 times a day. The CNAs were not allowed to administer meds. My siblings nor I could have taken care of her by ourselves, she needed trained nursing care. My dad was there at the house too, but he is elderly and not able to help.
I’m glad they were able to afford this arrangement because nursing homes are grim places...however, it was less than ideal, and this is why. How do you get medical help, or dental help for someone who’s housebound? A physician would not come to the house, so we had visiting nurses, but for significant medical problems we’d have to hire an ambulance (around 700 bucks round trip) to take her to the doctor. And dental care, if a person can’t get to a dentist...there is no recourse. When I asked her dentist what could they do for a toothache, they said the only thing they can do in a nursing home or home healthcare setting is antibiotics (in case it’s an abcess) and pain pills...no way to fill a cavity, etc. And even if we could have transported her to the dentist, she wouldn’t have been able to sit in a dental chair, or open her mouth to have work done. They could have hospitalized her and removed a tooth, but we didn’t have to go there because the situation resolved.
Hopefully, as we’re faced with more elderly in homecare they will work out some of these problems. Caring for someone who’s just elderly, and ambulatory, is doable, caring for the medically needy patient is very hard.
My mom had excellent care, and the CNAs were like family and truly loved my mom, but if a lot of money hadn’t been available and if we (the siblings) hadn’t been in a position to chip in time everyday, it wouldn’t have been feasible.
Good gravy, societies across all cultures have been caring for their elderly for millenia. Now Obama comes along and wonders why nobody is doing anything for them? Sheesh
Thank you. My own 84 yo father has recently come to live with us. He has slight dementia and really doesn’t want to be with us 24/7, but he forgets to eat, forgets to take his meds, forgets to put his milk and eggs back in the fridge, etc.
I miss my strong daddy. He deserves all the love and care I can give to him at this time. He’d do it for me in a heartbeat.
Tort and malpractice reform would make all health care cheaper even elderly care.
I have insurance for Long Term Health Care and have been paying for it for about 10 years now. I have budgeted my
money and at times did without things I really wanted in order to pay for it. The premiums have risen a little
over the years but I have always made sure to pay it because I don’t want to be a burden on someone else.
I know that a lot of people cannot afford even the small amount that I have but the policy can be written to fit quite a few different budgets.
I just hope Obama doesn’t cause the total collapse of the insurance industry before I need to collect on it.
Bless you. I feel the same and want to personally care for my parents. They keep telling me they don’t want to burden us (and luckily we are not near that day where a decision must be made).
However, I personally don’t want to be a burden on my kids. It’s weird. I dint want to br in a nursing home but I also don’t want to give any of my kids the many years of loving care you’ve provided, with no escape. It’s tough.
What a good man you are. God bless you.
Back in the day before total liberal take over, that was pretty standard.
But then along came the Femi-nazis and the ‘liberation’ of
Roe v Wade decision which cheapened all life as we knew it, and we’ve been sliding down that slippery slope ever since.
We are inclined to generalize (mea culpa) and base opinions and solutions on our own life experiences.
While the elderly may be in good physical shape - mental deterioration is the biggest challenge. Senile dementia, Altzheimers’ psychoses and depression are the main crises for the elderly and their families.
Hard to overcome.
I have MS, and I've already informed my family, if I cannot take care of myself (to some degree) I will check myself into a facility. No way I will put my family in the position, financially or emotionally, of caring for me if I'm completely disabled by the disease. Hopefully that day never comes, and I won't face the decision, but I will not hesitate to do it if I reach that level of disability. The only caveat...if we win the lotto and can pay for a full time caregiver...then I'd stay at home :)
Obamadeathcare = “Logan’s Run” without the “run”.
Mom came to live with us when she was 84. Because avoiding caregiver burnout is a real challenge, I want to encourage you to use the resources from the local community, adult daycare, church functions, etc., and those available through the Alzheimer’s Assoc. My wife is a good source for encouragement also. If you would like to talk to her, FReepmail me and I will send her email address.
One of my daughters, the rebellious one, said that she was going to take care of me in my old age. To get even for all of the “I told you so” moments, her plan is to paint my toe nails pink, put me in a pink gown and push my wheelchair around the mall. LOL!
Now, you are the Strong. Somewhere inside him, he may be watching to see if you learned what he taught you. That’s the way I viewed my parents, anyway. As they grew older, they watched to see what I did.
Hey Swat Team,
Thank you for the blessing!
I really have to give my wife the credit for my Mother’s care. She made the decision right after we got married, she did all of the dirty (and I mean dirty!)work while I was away on business, and she still provides 99% of all the day to day care that Mother requires.
When I asked her why she made that decision eight years ago to take mother in, she told me that God had given her a vision of how much one human soul was worth years before, and that this was no different to him than if she was taking care of Jesus himself. (”Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.”)
Hubby and I were just talking about this. He’s said that he doesn’t want to live if he loses his mind.
I told him that this is how a rational person might think. If he ever truly loses his mind *he won’t know it*.
From his perspective, he’ll be fine.
The idea of putting down the mentally broken elderly sounds humane to idiots. The idea of losing your sanity may sound horrifying.
But I’m telling you, my grandmother *loves* her life. She has no desire to die. She’s not suffering at all. She blames her confusion on all of the ‘stupid, thieving liars’ around her and carry’s on with perfect confidence.
Hubby laughed and agreed. he probably wouldn’t want to die either if he’s ever in that situation.
We’re building our retirement house in about ten years. We’ve already gotten the design finished. First of all, it’s one story. We’re putting in extra-wide doors, wheel chair rams in the front and back, easily modifiable sinks to be lowered for wheelchair access, pull bars, a shower with a low, sloped curb, etc. We’ve even designed the ceiling rafters to go in with the thought of adding a lift if needed.
We’re not going anywhere.
Not a popular perspective here at Free Republic, aka NormanRockwell.com, but thank you for posting it. My mother had many of these symptoms late in her life - fortunately while living with me she remained somewhat self-sufficient until the last few months.
And unfortunately for these elderly, the economic collapse that is looming will very likely result in a great breakdown of social order, and there simply isn't going to be any kind of support infrastructure for them - government-funded or otherwise. They will be among the first victims of the new economic reality.
Kids should take care of their elderly parents.
What an interesting and innovative perception. Thank you for telling me that I had a blessing when I thought I was cursed.
Your post made me cry. My dad has just started to have serious short term memory loss. I dread the path.
This reminds me. My parents and their friends, another couple, were having a discussion about this, on the beach in hawaii, and the two women were so sure they didn’t want to burden their kids that they decided that when the time was right, they’d just get into a kayak and row alone out to sea. Then they wondered, hey, well, if we are strong enough to kayak, why would we leave? But if we stay until we are too far gone to kayak, how will we get out to sea?
Immediately both husbands cheerily said, “we’ll row you out!”
They still laugh over this.
For the "family should do it" folks, medicare and insurance studies show that fully 50% of nursing home residents have no living relative--anywhere. They are literally alone in the world.
In large part, medicaid is the payor for long term care. Many of the recipients could live at home or in a cheaper assisted living facility, at one third the cost, if medicaid adjusted its policies. Some states, like Ohio, are attempting to do this now, but the nursing home industry is a powerful lobby. There are thousands of nursing homes and they all are competing for residents to keep their beds full.
Most nursing home residents if they had their druthers would not be there, they would be in their own homes. Medicaid could make that happen for many of them, and save a boatload of money, if the states simply get the political will to pass enabling legislation.
Both of you are blessed to have each other. You project the image of what marriage really is all about.
One of the great things about the long term care I have is that it pays for someone to care for you in your home, even your own family.
That is much cheaper than a facility. Hopefully you would never have to go to a facility but it also pays for that.
How do you get someone with fragile bones who can not climb up a steep flight of steps? They have to be carried.
One major problem is the place when she is living. I would suggest she think about moving. Not only because of her mother but because if she would ever fall she would have the same problem.
One major problem with housing is that it is not designed for the handicapped. We have lots of stairs, split levels, narrow hallways, crowded bathrooms, there are a whole slew of issues.
It is actually smart to start looking at houses with that in mind once the kids are gone