The politics of aging

Old and alone. No way to end a life.
Old and alone. No way to end a life.

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.

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4 thoughts on “The politics of aging”

  1. Nothing is going to change with the Republicans in office. It’s just going to get worse, and with current politics and economics, our generation will suffer more than our parents’ generation. For those who qualify, Medicaid will pay for assisted living, but it must be the smallest room, and it definitely can’t be a private room. As for the nursing home level, yes, they can be depressing. It is incumbent that family and friends visit, take the person out (if he or she is capable), and complain if the care is not up to standard.

    I agree with your comments about extending life no matter the quality.Doctors need to be frank and many shy away from that. As the end nears, a DNR (do not resuscitate) order does help a family. My mother established one and in her last six months, we also made use of Hospice support. They assist and support a patient and family deal with the coming end and afterwards. As you know, I wouldn’t have made it without their support. With your case, the family will probably have to make the never-easy decisions at the end.

  2. I know the Dems are “supposed” to be better….but it’s a matter of how much is one pregnant. Personally as long as legalized bribery (the politicos call it campaign contributions) is allowed nothing is going to work right and the profiteering corporations will rule the day and continue to buy laws that hurt don’t help.
    Tired of this situation? Then consider joining forces with Russ Feingold…he’s worked hard to try to end the legalized bribery and he’s continuing his work. Why not join us?
    This issue affects everyone and every issue. Nothing is going to get better until we fix the system.

  3. Unfortunately, after a year in an assisted living facility, my mother became so mentally incapacitated that the only option was a nursing home. She received wonderful care while there, but was unaware of her surroundings & those around her. Fortunately, she had her “advance directives” in order, so we were able to honor her wishes & let her die in peace. We ordered “comfort measures only” and just let nature take its course. We are not meant to live forever, & I can never understand those folks that demand “everything be done” – who benefits from this decision?

  4. I’m sorry to hear about your mother’s declining condition, but it was the same for my Dad who passed away on Veteran’s Day 2007. His actions and language had become so vicious and foul that one would have thought him possessed by demons.

    He was a tough disciplinarian raising four boys and one girl, but we all ended up well. I never heard the man use a single word of profanity in all our years in the house as kids even when he was upset or angry. He drank, but never to excess and I never witnessed him being drunk and oddly only smoked a single cigarette a day in the evening on the enclosed front porch. I’m sure some psychologists would tag him as having a repressed, overly self-controlled psyche. Maybe what we witnessed in the end was years of that which he should have been let out along the road of life.

    He fought in WWII and Korea as an infantry officer. He landed D-Day plus 8 and fought in every major battle all the way to Germany, wounded twice and once healed thrown back into battle then called up again for Korea. His last command in Germany was as a POW camp commander and that’s pretty much how he ran our household relative to us kids. He wasn’t a bad guy, but didn’t tolerate slacking in any way, shape or form on our part.

    Towards the end he’d had many trips between home to various area hospitals in the Cleveland, OH area to rehab facilities then back again to the hospital. He’d try to escape the hospitals and wander around streets with the cops gently taking him back to the hospital. In the end he was in the psyche ward of one of the hospitals. Tragically they found him unattended, laying on the floor, his wheel chair overturned outside an elevator on the edge of death. They tried to revive him, but he passed during the procedure age 87 in 2007. There was an investigation and the hospital was at fault, but attornies instructed my brothers that due to his age that a jury wouldn’t award enough even to cover the costs of litigation. So the hospital got to skate.

    “They can survive but is the dramatic decline in quality of life worth it? That’s the big question.” …extract from article

    How true and at age 66 myself and I believe you at 63 both of us now on the downslope of our life curve are facing the same. I can’t say this modern era medical care monstrosity is the best we can do. It seems that the strictures of corporate governance as well as greed far outweigh the facilitation of cost effective, kinder and gentler care for our aging population. The hospital campuses are getting ever larger, evermore fancy, but internally it seems the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. One of my brother’s has been through hell taking care of the needs of both our parents, our Mom passing too in October of 2010, her suffering the protracted complications of having fallen down the basement stairs at age 86. She shouldn’t have been going down such stairs, but they failed to lock the door to prevent her from doing so. Old people do the same things they’ve been doing all their lives and a simple “no” is not going to stop them. We start our lives as infants to children then adults and seemingly we end up the same in the end; ie., children to aged infants in diapers then back from whenst we came, to the bosom of the cosmos. : |

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