I want to deviate from the topic of medical travel and workers’ comp, to discuss the lousy way family caregivers are treated in the US today.
As an example, this writer and his younger brother, are dealing with the decline of our mother, who has Alzheimer’s. You may recall, that I wrote last year about the death of my father, so this coming Sunday will be the first Father’s Day without him.
But the real problem is with my mother. My parents purchased long-term care policies for each other, but my father ceased paying the premium because the company changed hands too many times for his liking.
My mother’s premiums were paid up to, and sometime after we filed a claim for home care for her. Since January of 2014, we have had more than half a dozen aides here for my mother, and at some time for my father as well, for which we paid out-of-pocket.
However, ever since my father’s passing, I am finding that caring for my mother after the aides leave in the afternoon, leads to problems arising that I am not equipped to handle. For example, within an hour after an aide leaves, my mother has accidents which she and I are not capable of dealing with, and she needs to be cleaned up and dressed.
There are other things that I, as her son, cannot do for her, but a woman could. Also, her illness prevents me from going out for some personal time, unless I pay for it, and plan it in advance. I need to have a life too.
Every time I ask for assistance in the late afternoon and evening, I receive the same response, no matter who I contact.
We are not financially able to place her in a facility, and I cannot afford to lose the money her Social Security brings in, which we use to pay bills.
About a month ago, my brother, who is a doctor, met with some representatives of a hospice company, and he suggested I contact them.
They sent someone to the house late last month, and told me that they really don’t provide that kind of care in the late afternoon and evening. Their services are paid for through Medicare, and would not cost us anything.
They would send doctors and nurses here during the day, which is fine, if she was confined to bed, which she is not, although she does sleep through the day and night at times.
However, in order to get extra home care, people have to pay for it because neither insurance nor Medicare will pay for it. And should she have to go into a facility, the government would take every last cent we have between me and my brother that our parents bequeathed to us, never mind that it might leave one of us out in the street.
Given the aging of the American population, and the fact that diseases like Alzheimer’s is getting more prevalent among the ageing population, such round-the-clock, or almost round-the-clock care will need to be paid for by either insurance plans purchased ahead of time, or by Medicare.
That it is not, is another sign that our health care system is broken, is beyond compassion and is only designed to provide profit for those who take advantage of the elderly and their families.
Two of my parents’ closest friends both passed away in the past three years, but they had the wherewithal to pay for round-the-clock care at home for, so neither of their sons had to worry about losing the money they would inherit. The younger son inherited it instead because his older brother is a multi-millionaire.
It is a sad state of affairs when a child is left with no outside support to care for an ageing and sick parent, especially when that child is financially struggling and is seeking a better life.
I know of, and have known others in my situation here in Florida, and that we have to sacrifice our lives, face the loss of whatever inheritance we may have for our own future, is not only wrong, it is criminal.
We as a society will need to address this issue, because we are all getting older, and this would be a very good way to provide needed employment for those whose skill-level are more suited for the caring profession than for flipping burgers at some unhealthy, fast food joint.
Not all of us are well-off attorneys who can place their aged mothers in a memory care facility without financial strain. A lot more of us need help, help that only can come from society at large.