From the Editor: Back Home to Cobb County at Last

Larry Johnson, the editor and publisher of the Cobb County Courier seated in an office chair in front of a small table with a laptop in article about Cobb County Courier Meet the EditorLarry Johnson, the editor and publisher of the Cobb County Courier

Our regular readers might that noticed that our volume of content dropped over the past few days.

I was in Albany, New York for the past three months, taking care of a relative with Alzheimer’s disease and getting him ready to move to a memory care facility near us in Cobb County.

Alzheimer’s disease is terrible. It robs the individual of their ability to remember the past, and to navigate the present.

Our relative had early onset. He is only 57 years old, 13 years younger than I, and by the time we realized he had the condition, his entire life was in disarray. Papers were stacked knee-high all over the house. The first thing I had to do when I arrived at his house in New York was clear out pathways so I could do basic things like cook and look for important things).

Many bills had gone unpaid.

There were two fortunate things about his situation.

The first was that his local bank noticed the steep credit drop brought on by the unpaid bills, and set up autopay for those while he could still communicate well enough to give permission.

The second was that he had a high-salaried job with a good defined benefits pension and had managed his money well, which provided a cushion against the enormous expense of long-term care.

I took care of him for the past few months, taking him to get his COVID vaccination (and mine, too. Thanks, State of New York, for making an exception to the residency requirement for me!), to medical appointments, and arranged Power of Attorney and the sale of his house.

Starting July 1 the schedule got even more hectic, which accounts for the two-day lack of content on the Courier.

July 1 was spent in airports and on planes bringing him down here.

July 2, I set up his room in the memory care facility (the basic furniture has already been delivered. I brought a streaming-ready TV, lamp, bed-clothes, toiletries, shower curtain and liner, a lamp and his clothing, and set them up.

Then July 3 we brought him to memory care, and did some final paperwork and setup of the room, and introduced him to a few of the staff.

I’d talked to him about what memory care entails every day for two months, and he seemed accepting of the need, but when we got ready to leave, he asked “I’m staying here?” and seemed obviously upset.

At this point he’s going through the intake and orientation, and we’ve been asked to wait for the okay before we visit again or take him to hang out with us.

The need for universal long-term care insurance

I’m a firm believer in a strong social safety net, including national health insurance (or a system that achieves the same goals of comprehensive, universal medical care), and national long-term care insurance.

Many people, no matter how hard they worked their entire lives, or what accomplishments they made that benefited the nation, are virtually discarded at the end of their lives because they either have no family, or their family is unable or unwilling to intervene when the need arises.

This is a wealthy country, and to refuse to take care of its residents, especially compared to other wealthy nations, is a stain on our national character.

My relative was lucky. He has both family and friends who intervened when his life deteriorated due to this horrible disease, and the resources to set up his care as his mind and overall health inevitably and steadily declines.

Not everyone is so lucky.

There are two common fantasies that are put forward in opposition to providing decent care as a nation.

The first is that it’s the responsibility of family to do all the work.

The family members don’t always intervene, and when they do they are often put through a living hell.

Typically one family member takes on most of the burden of primary care-giving, which triggers a cascade of conflicts and resentment between the caregiver and other relatives, and even between the caregiver and the person being taken care of. And like other forms of chronic illness, it often drains the financial resources of the family (I played chicken with bankruptcy during the chronic illness of my late wife).

The other fantasy is that charities will pick up all the slack.

If you think that’s true, find a person with Alzheimer’s disease who has little or no resources, identify a decently run longterm care facility or a community care service that will keep them safe, then match them with a charity that will provide the resources they need.

If you’re not willing to go through that nearly impossible task, study the issue a bit before you either put that notion forward again or try to shame the family members.

The bottom line is that we’re long overdue as a nation to take care of our people.

Advertisement

5 Comments on "From the Editor: Back Home to Cobb County at Last"

  1. You did an awesome job. I pray everyday that my child will not be faced with this problem. I am in health care & have seen patients go through this with their family members.

  2. Scott A. Olson | July 5, 2021 at 1:29 pm | Reply

    Doesn’t Medicaid pay for long-term care?

    • Only after your resources and the resources of any family members unlucky enough to have assets intertwined with yours are spent down. There are waivers, and there are ways of structuring estates to dodge the bankruptcy bullet, but the first are limited, and the second requires enough resources to hire a lawyer to begin with.

      So Medicaid is not a good option. It requires poverty (and often your family’s impoverishment) and you don’t have a lot of choice in terms of quality of care.

  3. Kathy Slough | July 5, 2021 at 6:11 pm | Reply

    Larry, thank you for your article on taking care of your loved family member out of state with Alzheimer’s and moving them here to Cobb County. I totally understand what you are saying as I am a long distance caregiver for my Mom out of state who also has Alzheimer’s. Only until one goes through this does one understand how difficult it is with few resources available to them. There is a definite need for universal long term care insurance. We are a wealthy nation and it is beyond ridiculous that there is no nationwide long term care insurance for situations like this. One has to be rich and go through hoops to try and take care of their loved one. Thanks again for your insightful and so true article on this. Wishing you all the best.

  4. Thank you for this powerful article, and thank you for sharing such personal details. I wholeheartedly agree with all your sentiments on this issue, and I too find it ludicrous that our country continuously fails in securing the most fundamental needs for its citizens. I’ve become so disillusioned by American politics – though I hope that one day universal healthcare is the norm, I just can’t fathom how that will ever come about. We need strong, fearless leaders willing to fight large corporations/industries, and those that will not waver in the face of opposition.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.