Who will care for you when you’re sick and old?

I’d written earlier about my family’s recent ordeal in dealing with my dad’s health.

At 84, he was diagnosed with oral cancer, and a few weeks after surgery, and during chemo, a kind of delirium set in that has now abated, but only to a degree. For a while there, my mother had to be with him 24/7, and now we have a nurse who comes in several days a week (at our own expense, which we figured might range from several thousand dollars a year all the way up to $70,000 if we needed her every day all day long).

The entire situation, trying to figure out what the insurance would and wouldn’t cover, and having to have someone by his side all the time, got me wondering about what I’d do at his age with no spouse, no kids, and no retirement plan other than my SEP-IRA which couldn’t afford to buy me a nurse for long (dad has generous health insurance and overall retirement benefits from his former corporate life a generation ago, and has a decent retirement account himself).

Older couple via Shutterstock

Older couple via Shutterstock

Michelle Singletary tackles this issue, of baby boomer retirement, in the Washington Post, where she discusses a new AARP report detailing how bad the coming problem might be.  The report hit on a point that I’d made a few weeks ago to a friend, that circumstances have changed entirely since our parents, and grandparents, retired ten and twenty years ago – and since Social Security and Medicaid were established: Women now work.  From Singletary’s column:

“The future looks very unlike the past,” said Lynn Feinberg, AARP senior policy adviser and one of the report’s authors. “We have more women in the workforce who are juggling caregiving and work. There are a greater number of people living at a distance. There is a huge number of people who don’t have any living children. We have to look at public as well as private community solutions to long-term care.”

In the old days, women could only get certain educations, could only get certain jobs, and more generally it was frowned up for moms to work more than part-time (my mom was a substitute teacher).  Now, thankfully, women have the same (or at least almost the same, salaries are still a problem) career options that men have.  But the current legislation is based on the dated (and sexist) assumption that if you get sick and old you can rely on your family, and I suspect a hidden bias in that assumption is the notion that “there’s always the wife who will be around to take care of the husband or his/her parents.”  Now, with two-career families a necessity for many (most?) families, who can afford to quit their job in order to take care of their parents (the family loses half its income), let alone their spouse (thus losing 100% of the family income)?

And if you’re gay, sick and old, having a spouse and kids wasn’t exactly on the agenda (well, not very much on the agenda) until only recently, so a lot of us are simply on our own all together.

And it’s not just about quitting your job.  Whether you’re married or single, how does an infirm mom or dad move in with you if you work all day, if no one is home to watch them, care for them?  And I seriously doubt it’s every family that can afford to hire a nurse for $10,000 to $70,000 a year, so what do you do?

To paraphrase Alan Grayson, speaking of the GOP health care reform proposal, the solution is simple: hope that you die quickly.

I really am serious.  Every friend who has gone through caring for a sick parent (or sibling or spouse) tells me the same thing: May I die in my sleep, quickly.

The Fox News crowd, of course, thinks the problem is women themselves.  If only those crazy pants-wearing ladies would stop trying to act like men, and would instead stay home and birth babies, the world would be a better place. Here’s Republican Erick Erickson, talking about how sad it is that women have abandoned their families:

I’m so used to liberals telling conservatives that they’re anti-science. But liberals who defend this and say it is not a bad thing are very anti-science. When you look at biology, when you look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complimentary role….

When you look throughout society, look at other animals, the male of the species tends to be the protector, the dominant one in that regard. We’ve gotten to a point in this country where you have a lot of feminists who think that the male and female roles are completely interchangeable.

That’s like blaming the newly-freed slaves for all the extra work you’ll now have to do on the cotton plantation.

And, even if women weren’t in the workplace, there’s that little stickler about what happens when stay-at-home-mom herself becomes ill?  Is Mr. Bring Home the Bacon going to quit his job and care for his wife, while still managing to pay the mortgage? Not so much.

I don’t know what the answer is.  The article mentions long-term care insurance.  But I’ve been warned that a lot of it is a scam.  They can quadruple the price on you at will, and diminish your benefits every year, and then, even if you live to an age where you can use it, you’ll be haggling over what is and isn’t covered.

Both political parties are going to be paying a price for their inaction on this issue in the next ten to twenty years, when a lot of us reach retirement age and look back on Republicans and Democrats who wasted our budget surplus on unnecessary tax cuts and wars, and then lectured us about how they simply had to cut benefits to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in order to pay for all that “wasteful government spending” that they were the ones wasting in the first place.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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78 Responses to “Who will care for you when you’re sick and old?”

  1. docsterx says:

    A good case manager can help the patient and may be able to save the insurer some money, too.

    Because of EMTALA, the local hospital HAS to see and evaluate patients brought to them on an emergency basis. If they require treatment, the hospital has to provide treatment to stabilize the patient, then transfer him to a hospital that will accept his insurance. If they don’t require emergency treatment, they can be discharged and told to seek medical treatment at a site that does accept their insurance.

    I’m not sure how that might be a HIPAA violation if all of the patients agree to share their own medical information. The hospital may just not want to have to deal with the group and its members on site. Maybe you could set the group up, but use an alternative site like a church, community center, etc.

  2. kimberly537 says:

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  3. lynchie says:

    Stress is the killer. After caring for your mother your body just caved. I know the feeling with my wife’s cancer, you hold on every day, happy face, positive attitude, keeping life close to normal for the patient and when you don’t have that your brain and body are lost.

    This supposed golden age of retirement is such bullshit. It may be for the 1% because I don’t know anyone who can travel, read, enjoy life with no cares. Companies have taken away pensions, 401K’s are only built with your money, company doesn’t cough up a dime anymore and it has been halved with the wall street collapse. I can honestly envision a bunch of old geezers in wheelchairs storming Washington. But you have to turn the anger and fear into going after the system and the MoFo’s who smugly sit there and refuse services or healthcare. There is nothing better than a little shouting to wake everyone in the office up. Eventually they will resort to getting the police but I figure they will have to feed me and provide a place to sleep so that isn’t too bad

  4. lynchie says:

    Good thought except the Insurance company is owned by the Hospital chain which brings up another issue that just happened. The Insurance Co/Hospital as now decreed that they will not treat anyone who doesn’t have their insurance. Anyone outside their system has to go elsewhere. They control a huge number of hospitals and in my town we have one choice. The game is rigged, we have written the state (GOP governor) got no answer, written and called state and federal congressmen (said they would look into it, they must be using opera glasses, no answer). I also wanted to start a support group for the patients where they could meet and discuss their reaction to various drugs, etc., hospital refused to let us use their facilities. They claimed it could be a HIPPA violation. Like people give a shit when they are dying if another person knows they are dying.

  5. docsterx says:

    Good luck! You’re welcome.

  6. emjayay says:

    When I was a kid in the 50’s what you describe was the norm. My best friend’s father was a janitor at the Ford plant and his mother didn’t work and his grandmother lived with them. I’m sure the stats are out there but it’s too late.
    Back in the 1800’s it was a new thing for women to be in mills etc, but they had to be single. Teachers were all women and had to be single. In the 1950’s stewardesses had to be women and had to be single.

  7. bandanajack says:

    instead of guessing, get off your self reliant butt and do some serious checking. scoliosis is no laughing matter, and not much can be done except painkillers like percocet, and i take it, and lyrica for the accompanying nerve pain from impingement. you may already qualify for disability even if you can manage working through pain. at any time you may lose that functionality. get going.

  8. bandanajack says:

    luck had nothing to do with it. i had to walk away from a lifetime’s memorabilia, and get on a plane and get off in a city where i didn’t know a soul and had no clue where i was to live. i had rented a room at the downtown Y for a month, and looked around from there. fate intervened to my good fortune, but i would have made it happen somehow anyway. firm believer in no guts, no glory.

    i still grumble about not being able to find affordable housing on the quieter windward side of oahu, and living in honolulu instead. you would think people would go back and forth, but unless its work related, most people stay on their own side of the ko’olau range. i know NOTHING of this side of the island. still, it IS hawaii.

  9. bandanajack says:

    almost every area has some form of ADA (americans with disabilities act) transportation, free or cheap, and usually door to door. door to door sounds like a luxury, but regular transit transportation can leave someone with ambulation problems in tough situations. senior hotlines often are part of the “area agency on aging” network, and in many areas dialing 211 is the shortcut phone number. that is not universal, but it is common.

    if you can comfortably walk short distances, most transit companies have free or discounted fares for seniors and disabled, check locally.

  10. Bomer says:

    “Sometimes spinal curvature can cause problems with the chest or neck, nerve entrapment and other things.”

    Got the neck and nerve thing. I’ll definitely look into it. Thank you for the information.

  11. docsterx says:

    It may still be worth looking into, trust me. There are sometimes other contributing medical problems discovered on the disability physical: limitations in joint movement, for example. Sometimes spinal curvature can cause problems with the chest or neck, nerve entrapment and other things.

    Also, some states offer lower cost health insurance to the underemployed for a short time. Don’t know if TX is one of those.

  12. Bomer says:

    I don’t think I would qualify. I have back and hip problems (and I think a nice case of thyroid disease but that hasn’t be confirmed yet) and as long as the job wasn’t overly physical I could probably do it without anymore pain that I have right now. I know that I will eventually have to have at least one hip replacement (childhood injury that just keeps getting worse as I get older) and something done to fix the curve in my upper spine, but as of right now I don’t think that qualifies me for disability.

  13. Bomer says:

    Sadly if I whittled down my resume and more it would be blank. I’ve been a waiter (never doing that again; twice was enough), file clerk, mail clerk, general office butt monkey (ie gofer), main receptionist, and at one job I was medical records/receptionist/appointment taker and performed most of the pre-screening tests (ophthalmologist’s office) and cleaned and reset the exam rooms. Along with multiple temp jobs when I was trying to help pay my way through college (didn’t work out so well…but man do I have student debt to remember it by!).

  14. docsterx says:

    You may be able to get a patient advocate, case manager, care manager through the insurance company.

  15. docsterx says:

    That’s a whole other can of worms. The DEA can get pushy if they feel that pain meds are Rxed “inappropriately.” Some doctors are thinking of just not prescribing opioids at all because of the problems: drug seekers/addicts, DEA, some places require supplemental education, maybe increased malpractice premiums, too.

  16. Bill_Perdue says:

    I’m not so sure it works as well as doctors claim in the extreme conditions of death.

    When things are terminal and terrible I’d prefer an assisted suicide for myself. As much as I love the desert I’m thinking of moving to Washington or Oregon before the time comes.

  17. docsterx says:

    Maybe you can qualify for disability.

  18. karmanot says:

    That also brings up the very important issue of pain management.

  19. karmanot says:

    During those long years I experimented with resumes. Whittling down the education, leaving out decades of varied experience and I couldn’t even get a job as a grandpa door guy at Wal*Mart. The worst was being turned down as the assistant to the hospitality director of a local funeral home. I figured that having helped at least a dozen people die might count as experience. —-I was overqualified. GAAAAAAAAAA

  20. Bill_Perdue says:

    Socialized medicine is a big part of the solution and the other is a rejection of the cultists desire to see people die in agony with no recourse to assisted suicide.

  21. karmanot says:

    What a joy to find a loving partner at this stage!

  22. karmanot says:


  23. karmanot says:

    Ain’t that the truth.

  24. karmanot says:

    Good. I for one would miss you here.

  25. arleeda says:

    I’m 76 and my 71 year old spouse died recently after a massive stroke. He was in hospice for three weeks, and although the hospice care was covered by Medicare, the room and board was not. We have group LTC insurance, but it doesn’t kick in for 90 days. I am fortunate enough to have received a life insurance payout and will put it aside to pay for my first 90 days in LTC. I have an unmarried daughter who is an RN, and while she might be able to care for me part-time, there will be no one to care for her.

  26. Bomer says:

    Lucky. I live in Texas =(

  27. Bomer says:

    I don’t qualify for Medicaid. I’ve checked.

  28. lynchie says:

    The problem is with an extended family living somewhere else there someone to go every day. It is important that the patient talk and use their brains every day to keep the mind active. i have tried to get a patient advocate appointed in the town i live in and the resistance from the hospital which is part of the one of the biggest not for profit health system was staggering. They said there was no money, the patients didn’t need it, who was I, how am I profiting, there were calls to my neighbors inquiring if i was a shit disturber. So I did what a normal person should do I called the tv and newspapers and gave them the story of how patients must be ready hours before being picked up by the hospital bus for an appointment at the hospital, how they yell at these old people the whole time they are in the hospital, how they are too slow, etc. etc. All done to scare these old retired people into not using the facility. Then they send the extra billing invoices trying to scare them more about not being able to pay and if they can’t health care will be denied. We are the most morally bankrupt nation in the world where we have the 1% constantly collecting their welfare, congress who are all (everyone) on the take and no one has time for the elderly and poor. This did get some action from the hospital and they said they had been doing a search for an advocate for 6 months (a complete lie) and they had some smooth talking bullshit artist give some sound bites about how the care, etc. etc. Here we are 4 months later no advocate and the health system just reported revenue of $680 million dollars. Not for profit like my ass chews bubblegum.

  29. lynchie says:

    Hopefully under Obamacare you can get some measure of health care. If you do get sick go to emergency and if you can’t pay Medicaid should chip in if not pay them $5 a month.

  30. Whitewitch says:

    I admire a person that can live by their wits and someday – should I be alone – I shall totally live in a wee tiny place with just my bare necessities. I prefer it that way.

  31. bandanajack says:

    whenever the body’s betrayal gets on my nerves i just remind myself i live in f**king hawaii. and i laugh!

  32. bandanajack says:

    i couldn’t live “well” by middle class standard under any circumstances, but starting from the premise of being poor, clever can take you a long way. with luck and cleverness i am living on less than a thousand dollars a month in honolulu. one thing about being a singleton is that you can live anywhere you damn well please, and i have spent most of my life living among the wealthy. at least the neighborhoods are better as is the architecture. choose your domains wisely.

  33. Bomer says:

    If my body plans to keep me around feeling the way I do now I’m suing for divorce.

  34. bandanajack says:

    or me, look for the santa figure using a walker or those cute electric carts. walking more than from kitchen to bedroom is no longer an option. standing to prep vegetables is out too. bad backs seem to run in my generation…

  35. bandanajack says:

    that pattern will likely get reversed over time. hope the caring adults are planning for their own care, on the possibility that their grown kids abdicate that responsibility.

  36. bandanajack says:

    you may be surprised and find that your body has other plans for you. i had no idea i would still be kicking around at 70, with a new lover to boot. parts of me continue to function, but other parts are playing hell with my abilities. by all means given your situation learn all you can about medicaid in your state, and what paperwork you will need to apply for it. if you qualify, and it sounds like you will by the time you need it, it will pay for your medicare, and a large part of ALL your other medical needs. this varies wildly from state to state, so make sure you have residence in a “good” state.

  37. bandanajack says:

    very much the case, especially with nursing facilities. all the adult living sites whose care levels go from catered meals in the dining room, often restaurant quality, and weekly housekeeping, all the way to full nursing care on site, with graduated fees based on level of care needed, that i found in the fort myers area (some stopped shy of full nursing unit on site.) had a high living standard, and entry level costs varied. only one full nursing site approached those levels, and that’s not the one my mother wound up in. there came a point where i had to have a legal guardian take over the decisions, when i could no longer meet the needs.

    had i the retirement income i would gladly have lived in the first place i got my mother in from rocking chair to grave.

  38. Straightnotnarrow says:

    At 38 I am already securing long term care insurance for this very reason. I don’t want to stress my kids, my spouse, and the rest of the family should I become unable to care for myself. Straight or gay, I think too few Americans look at retirement and what it can mean to be ill and require additional care.

  39. Bomer says:

    I’m only 38 and I’m already getting the “We would love to hire you, but you are overqualified” b.s. I can’t even land a part-time job as a shelf stacker.

  40. Bomer says:

    Awe, you’re very kind.
    No worries though. I don’t plan on doing myself a mischief any time soon.

  41. karmanot says:

    Yes indeed!

  42. karmanot says:

    Very Like!

  43. Yes, we put dad in a ‘good’ facility for a few weeks to recover from a very extended stay in the hospital and it was clear that we had to dog the facility every minute of the day to get things done like clean the bathroom after an accident. We were told by a nurse friend that the patients who get well cared for in nursing homes are the ones who have family come EVER day. That was definitely the sense we sadly got.

  44. karmanot says:

    Oh, how I relate! Stress, which accumulates for years does us in. I’m with you brother!

  45. karmanot says:

    “when I see very frail, elderly folks in the grocery store” That was probably me. Say Hi next time. :-)

  46. karmanot says:

    With one caveat : Be exceedingly cautious about the care facility. Many corporations are pushing facilitated care situations on people who should be in nursing facilities. In California the corruption at state level in regulating these often hell hole facilities has resulted in multi million dollar law suits. Check out FRONTLINE for information. You were quite lucky and demonstrate that an extra advocate is absolutely essential. Care-giving is an incredibly stressful business and often taxes us beyond the depths of our love.

  47. Didn’t intend it to come across as an ideal. Meant it more as a necessity, but sometimes an ideal, that was denied to them and now isn’t. At the very least it’s a very important choice, sometimes economically and sometimes just in terms of personal advancement, that women were denied for far too long. That’s what I meant.

  48. karmanot says:

    Please, do stay around!

  49. Bomer says:

    Who’s going to look after me when I’m old? No one. I’m terminally single and have a rather rocky relationship with 99% of my family and since I quit work (which I did willingly and wouldn’t change that decision for anything) to look after my grandmother I have no retirement savings of any kind. In all honesty I really don’t expect to kick around for very long. I’m steadily falling apart and have no health insurance so even if I did have someone to look after me I don’t think I would end up being around long enough to be an inconvenience.

  50. Whitewitch says:

    I see it with the younger people I work with. They will not stay late or make the types of sacrifices I don’t even think twice about making. They get that the job is really just the Man and not interested at all in the care of its employees. When I was young it was not this way…sadly the world seems to be going backwards a bit.

  51. Whitewitch says:

    Never give up on your dreams – even if they seem impossible – I have seen magically things happen Karmanot. I love your floppy eared pup!

  52. bandanajack says:

    i hear you, i made it to 65 before i started falling apart, in part from the stress of taking care of a mother with alzheimers for two years. i no sooner got her settled and began to think about having some of my life to myself than my body, which had apparently been holding on for dear life collapsed. had i not had medicare plus medicaid, i would not have been able to afford care or meds, much less rent;

  53. bandanajack says:

    already there, leathersmith, and it is a scary business. luckily, i bailed out of florida where i would have had no care, and moved to hawaii (on pauper’s income) where the state has made reasonable accommodations for its elderly. i also lucked into a boyfriend, VERY unexpectedly, who, although my age (72 to my 70) is far hardier than i and can help me with most things i can’t do by myself. living in the right state is a fair antidote to the end you fear, altho nothing is ever guaranteed.

    don’t be afraid to do the research on senior living apartment complexes BEFORE you need or desire to live in one, so you don’t have to make an uninformed decision on the spot. just the basic services that can make life easier, like shuttle buses and on site medical assistance, security and housecleaning are worth paying more. it winds up being less expensive when you balance it out.

  54. bandanajack says:

    here’s the problem about kids taking care of their parents at home. unless they can afford a full time trained aide, they rarely have the skills or the time to do so properly. i have seen more than one frail elderly parent whose life in a skilled nursing or “independent living” facility would have granted them more dignity and companionship, and an endless array of physical and mental and social stimulation, wither and die from (i am sorry to say) neglect or ineptitude by family caregivers. nothing prepares you for the demands of the frail elderly living at home, not even a career as a caregiver. my mother got 6 extra months of living within her capacity even as she advanced in senility, by living in an independent facility where everyone even down to the cooks and janitorial staff was trained to afford the maximum of freedom, and with a minimum of intrusion. i picked up the slack that a higher degree of care would have provided by administering meds, making sure she took advantage of the included meals, and doing her laundry. even tho i got to go home each night, even that level of care wiped me out, although it was a substantial relief from having her live in the same apartment with me, where she could walk out to the street and wander off.

  55. lynchie says:

    End of life struggles are all about making choices. I chose to not prolong if faced with cancer or the like but to each his own. Then to deal with employment issues like Karmanot is makes things doubly stressful. You spend all these years getting knowledge, solving problems, learning from making mistakes and then because the company decides you cost them too much and they can hire 2 people for what they pay one you are pushed aside. I learn a lot from my kids but the one thing i know for sure is that the younger generation have seen what companies have done to their parents. The job is king, after hours, overtime, answering email, texting, taking calls and they are largely not prepared to put the effort in just to get laid off. There is a lot of talk about the new generation being selfish, not willing to sacrifice, not willing to work for $7.25 an hour for the rest of their life. I don’t blame them a bit. Suck what you can out of the system. There will be no SS for them, Medicare will be a dream. Pension Plans won’t even show up in a Google search. We as a society have sat back and watched the 1% buy our government, screw our neighbors, move jobs from country to country and then they ask us for the “shared sacrifice” horseshit. the congress who claim you can live on food stamps or minimum wage while they dine out in the best restaurants in

    Washington with not a glimmer of shame. My dear Mom used to say that “God gets even” and I say Yeah, but i want to be there. Maybe we will revolt, maybe our elected representatives will finally do a few small things for the middle class and poor but I have little faith in false prophecies.

  56. karmanot says:

    The medical care world is an insatiable vampire. It is important to have a good directive and multiple copies.

  57. karmanot says:

    My dream was to return to Ireland, but that dream is gone and I try to be present where I’m at and enjoy life.

  58. Whitewitch says:

    Thoughts are with you and your loss. I only worry about the day my husband leaves…as for me I believe that the end will be great (even if it is nothing and I can just not have to hear someone telling me what to do)…your plans are excellent and I wish you many happy travels.

  59. Whitewitch says:

    As usual Karmanot you speak the truth and well. I agree, there is lots of desperation out there. Best friend took 2 years to find a job, being 58 and most people considered him unemployable because he would be “retiring.” My own beloved has not work for many years due to health issue. So we are definitely there with you my Brother. My double mastectomy was 5K AFTER the health insurance and that was without getting new breasts to replace the ones taken (better off without them anyway – who needs them at my age!)

    And who can live well on Social Security – perhaps in another country (I personally am thinking of Mexico).

  60. Whitewitch says:

    Thanks for sharing – happy that you had the privilege of such a life.

    No where in my post did I imply that women had professional jobs or made a living wage. In fact, what point you are trying to make is quite unclear to me. I am basing my statement on FACT – not some government statistic.

    My mother made piss poor wages, as did my grandmother and they both worked – not because they wanted to – because they had to. Not sure what the BLIP in the time space continuum is so that you can basically call me a liar – because some statistics say it is so.

    And as for myself, I would have loved to stay home and take care of the son, however I have worked since I was 16 (yes at a real job in a nursing home) and have never had the luxury of not working. I am not upper middle anything, I don’t own a home, make payments on a car and work my ass off.

  61. lynchie says:

    My wife passed a few years ago with cancer. I spent most of my 401K paying the extra billing from doctors, hospitals, tests, chemo etc. It was something I have no regrets about but near the end my wife on one of her lucid days that she would prefer to just have pain killers, no chemo since being a nurse she wasn’t blind to the reality of medical care. She wanted to die at home with our pets and kids around and we accommodated that much to the dismay of the doctors and hospital (though I am sure the insurance company was happy not to have to pay). My will simply states if I get one of these diseases spend no money on bullshit cures that never work, no chemo, etc. Some pain killers only and save the money and expense and pass it to my kids and a few charities I have picked. It is funny how frantic people can get when they get a terminal illness. It is part fear but a good deal is financial stress about what they want to do. I have posted for years about the real problems with our health care system.

    1. plans are not equal in coverage
    2. deductibles vary based on employer

    3. everyone extra bills, hospitals, doctors, labs, etc get paid by insurance company and then they come after the patient for more and threaten not to provide further coverage unless you cough up their gouging.
    4. costs vary from hospital to hospital.

    5. It seems they don’t want a cure for major diseases. There is more money made in treating, chemo, new drugs, clinical trials, fancy new tests. Everyone getting very rich and the patient caught in the middle.

    That is the beauty of single payer (canada). the first 4 items on the list are eliminated and everybody gets the same level of care.

  62. judybrowni says:

    Sorry, but there was a blip in time, specifically the Greatest Generation, where even in lower-middle class neighborhoods it was econcomically possible and adventatious — and the propaganda of the period said preferable — that the wife stay at home and raise the children and do all the housework.

    Women were shut out of the professions, “women’s work” paid shit, daycare was largely non-existent, as was fast-food, permanent press clothing, and the other aspects that support two-income families today.

    A whole family could live on a blue-collar man’s salary — even if he’d managed to graduate from only high school.

    Look up the statistics, (I’ve seen them, but don’t have the time today to get ’em for you) but also anecdoatally: of my four aunts only one went to work after marriage, and then only after her daughter went to college.

    All lower-middle class families. My own mother worked herself up through civil service ranks. But after marriage, she stayed home — I even remember my father forbidding her to go back to work when I was about 10 years oldin 1960.

    Of all my school friends, only two had mothers who worked — as school nurses, so they could be home when the kids came home. Again, lower-middle class families.

    Things began to change in the ’60s helped along by Second Wave Feminism, and the beginning of the Republican regimes in the ’70s made it an economic necessiity.

  63. karmanot says:

    So many tales out there, millions of them, of practical desperation. I had to take the early option when it came time because I just could not be hired after the age of 55. I was willing to do anything.”Overqualified”—which meant too old and too expensive. Companies that had good insurance programs did not want to hire older workers. So it was a struggle just to make it to early SS. Fortunately I had perfect health until the age 65, when just two months short of Medicare I had a catastrophic illness that still lingers. I lost my life savings paying those bills. 4 ER visits alone cost over 8k and that at a discount. Many of us fear to outlive our least means, of being stored in some hell hole state facility and quite frankly, talk quite openly about euthanasia.

  64. Whitewitch says:

    I have a very tight DNR/DNI as well…living in a bed with no voice and no ability to read would be a pure and very real hell for me. I will work until the day I die, as I have no retirement and expect no SS to be around (and I am only about 7 years away from the “early option”). That said thankfully I can still work, have my mind and my hands…so I am better off than many. It is a brave new world we face….(and euthanasia is possible even here in the States).

  65. Whitewitch says:

    Hang in there leathersmith…you never know how the play will end.

  66. Whitewitch says:

    My mother, back in the 60’s, has no choice – she worked to feed the family, as did my father. They were not rock scientists or corporate white shirts. Just a cop and his collection’s lady wife. This “myth” that women did not need to work should be schuttled and called for the falseness that it was. For goddess sake, my Grandmother worked most her life as well, as her painter/tinker husband could not support 5 children alone.

    May June Clever had a choice, and maybe many upper middle class women had a choice, but since back in the day (1800’s) women worked, if not on the farm, planting and caring for animals, and doing the laundry, cooking and care taking, then in a factory or plant.

    And lastly, the end game for all of us is Death…so accept it and do the best you can to enjoy the time you have here.

  67. Whitewitch says:

    I agree with docsterx…it is a joy and a celebration of life to take care of those you love. Think of all the great stories you can share and the affection you can lavish – without any responsibility for discipline or rules! I say get down and party with yourself in their care! I cared for a Grandmother for a while and the stories she told me still live in my heart today. And I hope, should my son have to care for me, that I can still “Scob His Nob” and hug him regularly with the excuse of being quite senile and he will have to let me!

  68. Hue-Man says:

    Canadian Medical Association hired pollster Ipsos-Reid: “Among the 1000 people [18+] who Ipsos Reid called, 85% agreed with the statement that Canada needs a comprehensive health care
    strategy for seniors, while only 12% agreed with the statement that Canada does not need to focus on a seniors’ strategy. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.”

    “Only 41% of respondents think hospitals and long-term care facilities in their geographical area can handle the health-care needs of seniors who won’t be able to stay at home.”

    And their perception of Socialized Medicine?: “Most respondents assigned a B or an A grade to overall health care services in Canada, according to the survey, with 45% assigning a B to the quality of services available to them, and 30% giving it an A.”

    ““The anxiety Canadians have about health care in their so-called golden years is both real and well-founded,” Dr. Anna Reid, CMA president, said in a news release. “Let there be no doubt that a national strategy for seniors’ health care should be a federal priority.”” http://www.cmaj.ca/site/earlyreleases/18aug13_Canada_needs_seniors_health_care_strategy_CMA_report_card.xhtml

    My guess is that the Medical Industrial Complex is going to have to undergo a huge culture shift, similar to the French model, where nurses and doctors visit patients at home to provide medical care. My health would be adversely affected if I had to move from my home of 10 years – let alone some who’ve lived in their homes for 50 or 60 years – to be warehoused with other old, sick people, waiting for the Grim Reaper. The LGBT privacy part is a secondary, although important, issue.

    Finally, this story from yesterday is so awful I don’t want to quote even one sentence from it; I apologize in advance if I’ve caused you grief if you click on it. I should be a wake-up call for politicians that they can’t keep cutting the funding for seniors; long-term care facilities need to have watchful, caring trained staff working there. http://www.calgarysun.com/2013/09/09/patient-in-long-term-care-has-face-nibbled-by-mice

  69. Whitewitch says:

    “That’s like blaming the newly-freed slaves for all the extra work you’ll now have to do on the cotton plantation.” Best quote ever….Love it. Sorry for you that you don’t have a companion to care for you, there is still time….

    On a serious note, we have a very good friend who lives alone. He passed away last week, thankfully he was having dinner out when it struck and he passed quickly…I had the shivers thinking of him alone, in his apartment and how long it would have been before they found him….

    So make that “may I die quickly at dinner with company.”

  70. ArthurH says:

    Two comments: I doubt many of us will live as long as our ancestors. From my personal family, in my grandparents generation (taking in all their siblings) everyone seemed to live between 89 and 98 with two exceptions (one died fighting in World War 1, the other in hit-and-run car accident). But in my parent’s generation not one of the extended family made it past 81. And in my generation, I’m the second oldest and I’m already missing a younger sibling and three first cousins. The older generations had the advantage of a better diet (fewer processed foods, high-fat fast food, and high-fructose corn syrup infused grocery items) while benefiting from the early advances in medicine. In my generation, most in my age group suffer from obesity, diabetes and environmental issues including high stress in the workplace (my Dad came home every day at 5:30 but my boss expects me on call 24/7). I doubt I’ll live as long as my parents.
    As for nursing homes and hospices, even if you have someone to care for you they can become an only option. When my Mom got too ill for me, her doctor advised me to put her in a nursing facility before the demands made me ill too.

  71. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    That may very well be true.

  72. docsterx says:

    Mike, just a suggestion. I don’t know you, your situation or your family but sometimes kids not only don’t mind taking care of their parents, they actually WANT to do it. They may want to keep dad, grandpa, grandma, mom around for a while. I’ve seen some families who got incensed when their parents wanted to go to a nursing home and not live with them. So your kids might have a different view about your intentions. So you might want to get their input first.

  73. JustanOldLady says:

    I have more friends taking care of their grown kids (financially) than the reverse

  74. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    We’re not likely to die quickly. Modern medicine has made it possible for people to linger on and on. Be certain that you have an advanced directive that has explicit instructions about what can be done for you at the end of your life. That would definitely have a DNR and a DNI.

    I took care of my husband and was happy to do so. However, I do not want my children to have to take care of me. They would be giving up a slice of their life to take care of me, and I just do not want that for them. That probably means a hospice or a nursing home. I just need to accept that.

  75. Sally says:

    But see, that is the point..an early grave is somehow preferable to years of illness and financial drain on the family. My mother-in-law was very active with her family until age 80, when her never-treated high cholesterol caused heart failure. She slowed down, was getting pretty feeble, and was told she needed a pacemaker. She refused, and died quietly last New Year’s. She had taken care of her own mom for five years following a stroke, and I’m certain she died by choice…not wanting to burden her husband (who has taken up travel and golf again) or her local children who are dealing with their kids and grnadkids. My mom has told me she will never go to a nursing home, and hopes to die in her sleep in her own bed. Me too!

  76. Cletus says:

    I don’t know why you say “women ‘rightfully’ work”, like it’s some kind of ideal. As I predicted in Eco 101 back in 1978, women entering the workforce by choice was going to soon force women to work. The economy loathes excess income in the hands of the working class.

    I think the ideal was back in our parents’ day, when it was a choice. My mother was never denied a job she sought, but it was a more relaxed family life when she could be home when she wanted/needed to be.

    I think, as a generation, we’re working all ourselves into an early grave trying to whack all the moles. It’s just unsustainable.

  77. leathersmith says:

    I live in fear of growing old alone. when I see very frail, elderly folks in the grocery store it almost makes me want to go off my meds

  78. Jim Olson says:

    I have a very tight, very explicit DNR/DNI order filed with everyone I can think of. There’s no way I can retire, given my chosen profession and the low salary and poor benefits that come with it. I make that choice freely. I also would like to have the option to choose when I am done. I do not want to be a medical, personal or financial burden on my husband; and we have no children. Perhaps America will get over its abhorrence of euthanasia as a choice.

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