Many years after he had retired from a business career in China and World War II service in the Air Force, our father’s Alzheimer’s Disease accelerated after a serious fall. For several years he spent six months with us and six with his other son in the Northwest. Years ago, there was little support for Alzheimer’s patients or their caregivers. We looked at nursing homes. No way. Many kept their patients drugged in wheelchairs or under restraint.
I learned of a day care program for mentally ill seniors. They agreed to take our grandparent. A bus came for him one morning at 8 a.m. He spent the day safely socializing with other senior citizens. They gave them a hot lunch. Sociable Pop loved people. Late that afternoon he happily exited the bus at our doorstep.
“He had such a good time,” I raved to the administrator the next day. “We definitely want to enroll him. What is the fee?”
“There is no fee. The program is for the indigent.”
“But he loved it. He has a pension. We’d be happy to pay.”
“Sorry, the program is only for the indigent.”
How true the old saw, I realized. If you get sick or aspire to a college education, you’d better be rich or poor. You’re out of luck if you’re in between.
To leave the house, I had to hire caseworkers who often watched TV and expected a hot lunch. A better understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease today has brought a few more services.
Have you helped care for an aging relative?