I’ve learned a lot more than I ever wanted to know about the politics of aging recently because of my mother’s declining health problems.
Advances in health have made it possible for people to live longer but it hasn’t necessarily made it easier for the aging to live well. They can survive but is the dramatic decline in quality of life worth it?
That’s a big question. My mother lives comfortably in a nationally-recognized assisted living facility. But is she happy? It’s hard to tell as her mind wanders, she loses thought in mid-sentence and can’t always remember people. When she gets agitated, she strikes out at people, uses language I never heard her use in the past. Sometimes, she stares at you blankly and you realize that she can’t remember who you are.
The cost of keeping a loved one comfortable in an assisted living environment is — as anyone who deals with it knows — is not cheap. Assisted living is far more expensive than a nursing home but I’d sell everything I own before I let my mother to into a nursing home. While conditions have improved in many nursing homes, the atmosphere in most if depressing and — I think — demeaning to the loved ones who are placed there.
Many, however, cannot afford to do so and their elderly relatives end up on Medicaid and the government takes everything they own.
And politicians use this misery and suffering to further their agendas.
It’s wrong. It needs to be changed.