Nearly 6 years ago I had a hectic job and fantastic health insurance. I never got sick. Maybe a fake flu, but those were just moments when I needed a desperate day off.
Then my Grandfather died and my Grandmother was left all alone in a nursing home. Her health seemed fine, but she seemed constantly agitated. A quick look at her prescriptions horrified me: she was on a cocktail of basically uppers and downers. Her local doctor was one of those jerks that had zero patience for geriatric care.
My Mother and I both decided to move to Grandmother's small town and take over her care. We got her seen by a geriatric specialist at a clinic an hour away and found out that Grandmother had mid-staged Alzheimer's. Oh and the rash on her arm that she had had for years and years that her local doctor had said was just "your basic sun damage" turned out to be extremely aggressive melanoma.
It took at least a year to get Grandmother proper care and the entire time I was outraged by how little attention is given to our elder family members.
The entire time that I cared for my Grandmother I had no health coverage. None. there are no agencies that look after caregivers, no unions, no special deals through medicare or any government groups.
Getting coverage as an individual was tedious and horrible. I was rejected by many companies due to the 5 years prior diagnosis of "acne and depression".
Meanwhile CNN and major news outlets are running stories about Caregiver's fatigue and how stressful it is to be a caregiver. And the Alzheimer's Association is sending newsletters reminding caregivers to "take care of ourselves" and "don't forget our own health". Each notice was like a punch in the gut.
How am I supposed to take care of someone for 24 hours a day, seven days a week and then find the means to get a physical? And then once I make it to the doctor's office how am I to pay for it?
The number of diagnosis of Alzheimer's is on the rise. My Mother's generation is now being told that one in eight of them will be at risk. The cost of putting someone in a nursing home can average nearly 8 thousand dollars a MONTH so more and more people in my generation will be forced to become caregivers.
And yet no one really worries about our health.
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