• Diane Mack: Growing old together shouldn't be a burden

  • This is two stories about love.

    I recently took a short trip to Pennsylvania. My parents’ health is failing. In addition, mom was recently hospitalized for three days.

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  • This is two stories about love.
    I recently took a short trip to Pennsylvania. My parents’ health is failing. In addition, mom was recently hospitalized for three days.
    This never occurs with my mom, that is, hospitalization. Mom has rarely been ill, as her past hospital trips were only for labor and delivery.
    However, as dad’s health fails, so does mom’s. This is a normal occurrence when a family member becomes the care giver.
    A care giver’s health worsens, more than the loved one whom they care for. The endless stress, daily lifting, and round the clock care take a toll.
    After my father’s stroke, eight years ago, my siblings tried a local, top of the line, nursing home. Dad was pretty bad at the time. Post stroke he had no speech, couldn’t walk, was paralyzed on the right side of his body and used a peg tube. Our family had hoped the 24-7 facility, would give him the necessary rehab.
    However, after 18 months as a resident, my father was horribly neglected, his daily therapies were nearly non existent, and to add to it, his roommate was abused. I would call it abuse when my father’s roommate was left in a Depends for 24 hours, rarely fed, and . . . His roommate’s family was deceased.
    Anyway, without getting angry about something so close to my heart, my siblings moved daddy home and mom took over his care.
    The State of Pennsylvania would only provide four hours a day of care for dad living at home. It was sad that my father did qualify for 24-7 care, but only if he lived in a state facility.
    Therefore my 5-foot, 80-year-old mom became my dad’s full-time caregiver, backing up the inconsistent, irregular home health care staff.
    If this is not a mess, home health care, then you have never had to use it.
    When staff didn’t show, came with poor attitudes and training, never did their assigned duty, or were on their smart phone when they should have been working, mom carried the work load, in addition to my siblings.
    Pathetic, isn’t it. And there is no doubt Pennsylvania benefited from my father’s Medicare and Medicaid-waivered funding, because this money exists and floats somewhere.
    I’m starting to get worked up here and need to take some deep breaths.
    To conclude, this system changed on June 22, 1999. However Pennsylvania is slow to comply.
    This is one of my love stories. It’s about Lois and Elaine, their family members, and the Olmstead Supreme Court Decision which allowed them to live in their community with those they love. The decision allows the money to follow the person and live with choice. When you have the time, search Olmstead on the web.
    Page 2 of 2 - As for mom and dad, this is my second love story. I am witness to their love. It’s their choice, to live together at home.
    Growing old together was and is their decision. They love each other, for better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.
    Happy Valentine’s Day, mom and dad. I love you.
    Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at jacksoncountyfamilyweek@yahoo.com or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.

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