Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Alzheimer's is Expensive

11:00 May 19th 2010: The phone rang and it was Whittier Place. Dad had gotten out again. He didn't get far but they couldn't get him to go back inside. I was already planning to visit him that day, so I left quickly and called Megan to come as well.

We got him back inside and fed him lunch. He complains: I need a job. I don't want to garden because they already have a gardener. These people take my stuff. I have no money.

Later that day, the head of Generations Memory Care where my Dad lives called to say she needed one of us to be there with him through the night or she would have to implement 24-hour care. I freaked out! 24-hour care would cost $1700 more a month. Great. Are we going to have to move him again? And to a place that is dumpy so that he can afford it?

The next morning in a meeting with Whittier Place, I break down. We end up compromising. Megan and I are going to visit 4-5 days a week and they won't raise his rate. This is our last chance to make this place work and it will only take one bad day for my Dad to ruin it. Fingers are crossed!!

I can't help but wonder how people afford care for Alzheimer's patients. My Dad's monthly payment would have gone up to a total of $5000 if they implemented 24-hour care!!! Whittier Place is moderately priced, so some are more and some are less. There is no fixed price at these types of homes -- the cost can go up and down depending on the needs of the resident.

Has America forgotten these patients? The system definitely fails someone like my Dad who is only 70 years old and is so physically active that he jumped the fence when he ran away earlier that day. He doesn't feel like he belongs with people who are 10 or 15 years older than him and he also needs a lot of activity to keep him happy and preoccupied.

I am not saying that the staff doesn't deserve the money he pays them. Because they do deserve it. They are constantly dealing with the disease and they are bending over backwards to accommodate my Dad. He's really sweet when he wants to be. Pinching cheeks and all that.

But how do families afford to give their loved ones the quality of life that they deserve? That is a question that I can't answer and that will be haunting us for the next 10-15 years (God forbid 20) as we go through this struggle with my Dad.

The only thing I can hope for in the future is the possibility of a cure or something to slow down the disease. Stem Cell Research. It's too late for my Dad... but what about me and Megan?

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