I have been primary caregiver to my 82-year-old husband, for a while now…... He has dementia and ataxia , both of which are getting worse. In the past year alone he has fallen 30 times. I’ve lost count the number of times we’ve had to go to urgent care or the ER. He has a walker now, and that certainly prevents him from falling – if and when he remembers to use it. The combination of his conditions really require 24-hour care.
And now we have been hit with a double-whammy.
Last week I was diagnosed with colon cancer and I’m scheduled for colon resection surgery on August 2. I’m told I could be at Stanford hospital up to a week and should expect to need a week or so of recoup at home.
So what will happen to my husband? It is not safe for him to be at home alone. In a country with a decent healthcare insurance system he would be covered for such situations. (Another talking point for all my social activist friends.)
In a more civilized country he might have a live-in nurse for a couple of weeks. Or, he might receive “respite care” at a short-term skilled nursing facility for a few weeks. In a more civilized country those services would be covered – and, by the way, they’d be considered preventative care, part and parcel of any decent fall-prevention program.
Not so here. Medicare doesn’t cover respite care. Our secondary insurance, Cigna, covers respite care – for 5 days - if the patient has only six months to live, which I’m happy to say is certainly not our situation.
To pay out of pocket for respite care is close to $300/day. We could barely come up with $300 a month. By the way, there are a few agencies that offer one-time grants, totaling $1500, but it takes weeks before the applications can be processed and another week to ten days for funds to be released. Even if we were approved, we simply don’t have the luxury of that time frame, nor is $1500 enough.
I am simply hoping that enough people read this and are able to respond to me, each according to their ability, so that no one feels burdened. It would be incredibly helpful to have the funds by July 30, so I can get Stan settled somewhere safe, before I have to prep for the surgery.
Thank you for your understanding and consideration.
- kyle and jill smith
- Nancy Kaplan-Biegel
- Robert Bensley
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