An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Posts tagged ‘Medicaid’

Dinner, Dementia, & Divorce

Our home teacher threw a dinner party Saturday night for the families he home teaches. George and I enjoyed getting together with ward members with whom we are not well-acquainted—thanks to our sporadic church attendance.  It was an especially good night for Gerald and Joanne who live several blocks away. He suffers dementia, but enjoyed being with people willing to overlook his confusion and talk to him about events he can remember. Joanne seemed to enjoy this rare evening out. As Gerald’s caregiver, her life is totally restricted. She cannot leave him alone and has given up her book group and Daughters of Utah Pioneers meetings.

Gerald and Joanne’s situation is hardly unusual in this age of life-prolonging medication. Gerald really needs to be in a care center, but nursing home costs are prohibitive for families who failed to purchase long-term care insurance when they were young and healthy. Medicare pays for only 90 days of nursing home care. Medicaid eligibility occurs only after a couple has exhausted their own resources—leaving the healthy spouse with only the house, Social Security, and possibly pension income.

It looks like Joanne’s only options are: a) to continue care giving at home until she exhausts herself and possibly dies first, b) to impoverish herself by paying for Gerald’s residence in a care center until their savings are exhausted, or c) to divorce him and let him go on Medicaid.

These are scary old-age prospects for couples. Since dementia runs on my side of the family and not George’s, I have told George and the kids (quite nobly, I think) that it’s all right for him to divorce me when I need nursing home care. “No problem,” our daughter Lolly said. “You won’t know it anyway.”

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Change of Heart

My aunt who has been blind and suffering severe dementia
since a major stroke last summer has been on blood pressure drugs, blood
thinners, and heart medication ever since. She has resided in a care center following
her initial hospitalization except for three weeks spent in a hospital
psychiatric ward for dementia patients to evaluate and prescribe for her
anxiety and hallucinations. Currently, she is in the hospital with acute
respiratory failure, urinary tract infection, and heart problems.

Both she and her son are ardent Republicans although neither
is prosperous, and both have loudly criticized health care reform or any kind
of assistance to the needy. The tab for my aunt’s medical treatment is picked
up by Medicaid.

A pollster on the evening news last week reported that
Republicans’ take on the current battle over deficit reduction versus
maintaining Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits now divides on an
income basis. Affluent Republicans prioritize deficit reduction while middle
class and lower income Republicans favor saving their benefits. I suspect my
cousin now has a different view on the need for Medicaid in modern America.

I’m in favor of reducing waste in government spending as
much as anyone. But what has puzzled me for years is relatives and neighbors (who
are not particularly affluent) quoting talk show hosts and politicians(who are extremely
affluent) about the fairness of tax breaks for the rich and the unjustness of
social programs for the poor.

An abstract for a Sunstone Symposium session scheduled for
August 4, “Why Do Women Fight Against Their Own Interests?” explains it. “Society
ends up shaping the very thoughts in our minds so that the world as it is seems
natural and normal, the end result being that many of us accept it without
question.”

Women aren’t the only group who often fight against their
own interests. Too bad humans can’t question the status quo until it impacts
them personally.

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