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The Need for a "Care Movement"

At eighty-seven, my mother is frail and has been diagnosed with "senile dementia, Alzheimer's type." We just moved her into a nursing home in our neighborhood. I am visiting her a lot and having many sessions. I give her attention to the extent I can.

She has forgotten that many of her relatives died long ago and asks me about them. I try to turn this into reminiscing. When I remind her that they have died, she sometimes bursts into tears and says, "Why didn't anybody tell me?" even though she attended their funerals.

She has accused me of stealing her money. She fell four times in the past week, and I'm trying to get the doctors and nursing-home staff to keep a better eye on her. They give her psychotropic drugs. I am stating my opposition to these drugs, with little backing from my family and non-RC friends. The doctors did stop giving her one particularly powerful anti-anxiety drug that was making her non-functional.

There are big issues here: aging, elders' oppression, and elder care. In our younger adult years there is a strong pull to avoid thinking about these issues or to joke about them. Then in middle-age we are suddenly hit with them, as we face our own parents' or grandparents' aging. As we ourselves age, they loom for us in the distance, too.

Large corporations are making huge sums of money on long-term care and wiping out people's life savings. My mother pays $6,100 a month for her nursing-home room. Contrary to what some people believe, such "custodial care" is not covered by Medicare.1 It is covered by Medicaid2 only after people's personal savings have been used up. I'm speculating that much of U.S. citizens' greed is fueled by our terror of being financially destroyed by the costs of long-term care in old age.

Workers in long-term-care facilities do difficult work and are poorly paid. They are only beginning to organize. We need a broad-based "care movement." We need to organize families, workers, and "care recipients" (young and old people, disabled people, and "mental health" system survivors) to be allies for each other.

E --

1 Medicare is the U.S. government program of medical insurance for aged or disabled persons.
2 Medicaid is the U.S. government program of medical insurance for persons with very low incomes.


Last modified: 2020-07-17 20:50:52+00