Sunday, 9 December 2007

comment from a reader

I hope with his permission, I would like to quote in full a comment I got from a gentleman going by the name anthropositor. This was left after my "Driving Miss Crazy" post, and he has some valid points to make (apologies for places where the spelling has changed to UK English - Blogger didn't allow me to copy and paste this and I had to type it out myself):

"I was once a fairly affluent travelling man. My Mom had passed away. Periodically I visited my Father who was in his late sixties, and a particularly challenging fellow to deal with. He sporadically drank a LOT of vodka. I was putting off the time that I would have to deal with the situation. My siblings, for good reasons of their own, could not or would not deal with the situation.

Clearly my Father was losing it. It was only a matter of time. Then I came back from a trip to find that he had had a stroke which had paralysed half his body.

This was twenty eight years ago. I looked into the care giving options, found them to be in excess of $2000 a month and elected to quit travelling to take care of him myself. I got him over his stroke and worked from home. Soon after his recovery I got married for the second time and got custody of my youngest Son.

Aside from the stroke, my Father continued to deteriorate behaviourally. It was indeed a challenging situation. My behaviour toward him was strained some of the time. I have some regrets about that. But ultimately, I did the right thing. No regrets.

Now I am about the age he was when I took over his full time care. He lived as well as could be expected for seven more years. For me this was an exceedingly difficult time, but I have never been sorry that I dealt with it the way I did.

I had a stroke two years ago which just made me stupid for a while. A pretty humbling experience. Fortunately my mental strength returned and then some. Your Mum is twelve years older than I am and her difficulties seem to be beyond simple stroke damage. Her situation is not likely to improve by much.

The costs of providing care for the aged are really extreme. You mentioned $100 per diem for day care. Full care would be double or more. And such care is often not exactly ideal. The young employees who work in such places often get as frustrated as you have been on occasion. When that happens, they are often not too inhibited with their irritation.

It strikes me that more should be done to set up situations in which lucid and capable old people do more caregiving for their less capable counterparts. They have some serious advantages in caregiving. They know that these things could ultimately happen to them, and maybe in the not too distant future. That alone makes them potentially much more understanding than youngsters are likely to be.

It is also true that many capable older folks need to supplement their income and would find elder care to be a good way to do it.

If someone in my neighbourhood made me an offer of say $1200 a month for continuous care around the clock for their loved one, I would certainly be considering the idea.

In the meantime, I will be doing my very best not to let myself become a senile hardship to my children. If I can remain lucid, ambulatory and capable until my one hundred and tenth birthday, I can't think of a better gift for my children or myself.

Good luck to you."

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