By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
This article was prompted by Carol Wright as she wonders why Alzheimer's caregivers don't receive more financial assistance.
Why not declare a war on Alzheimer's terrorism? Seems like a good idea to me. The best part is it wouldn't be hard to measure the tangible benefits.
What would be more desirable: a war in Irar, a war in Afganistan, or a war on Alzheimer's disease?
How would we fight the war on Alzheimer's terrorism?
By paying each Alzheimer's caregiver that keeps the Alzheimer's patient at home and cares for them at home -- one dollar an hour. That's twenty four bucks a day. Think of it as paid army of Alzheimer's caregivers.
Some of you might think this is a nutty idea.
Others might say, we can't afford it.
There are always people who make conclusions without bothering to look at the evidence.
The cost of this program would be roughly equal to what it was costing to fight the war in Iraq for a month. So far we spent about $739,960,439,800 in Iraq. You could also compare it to the $300 billion dollar stimulus package. Maybe you received $300 or $600.
The cost of my plan to Federal, state and local government -- about $8.5 billion a year.
By now you might thinking nobody would ever pay $24 a day for a program like this.
The state of Vermont is a lot nuttier than me. They pay caregivers, all caregivers not just Alzheimer's caregiver, $45 a day to keep the sick person at home.
You must be thinking, wow, those politicians in Vermont are really wonderful. They are. But, they have a good economic motivation.
Here is the nutty logic being used in Vermont --
"We realized it is cheaper to keep people at home. We can save a lot of money, and it is what they want."** -- Teresa Wood, Vermont home-care project, Waterbury, Vermont
Keep sick and terminally ill people at home. Allow sick people that want to stay home; rather than, go into a "facility" stay home and die with dignity. Give most elderly terminally ill patients what they want. Must be a very novel idea.
Not yet convinced?
Vermont has reduced its Medicaid nursing home population by about 20 percent.** It actually saves Vermont Medicaid money to keep the ill at home and pay the caregiver $45 a day.
You are probably thinking there is no way those politician in Washington would ever support an idea as radical as mine or the program being offered in Vermont.
"the federal government beginning in 2007, encouraged states to use less strict medical standards, and make Medicaid more widely available to those who could be cared for at home."***The key word is "encouraged". Encouraged, not required. As far as I can tell, four states were encouraged enough to enact the policy of keeping patients at home and out of the "system".
By now you might be wondering, why isn't my state doing this? It would save money and accomplish a wonderful mission at the same time -- keep sick people that want to stay home, at home.
Why aren't more states doing what Vermont is doing? There must be a reason.
I'll give it a shot. Maybe our elected officials benefit by keeping things the way they are; rather than, by doing what is best and right for a large fraction of their constituents.
Think of it this way, politicians won'd be getting any large campaign contributions from the caregivers making $24 or $45 a day. Maybe that explains it.
If you would like to read more about this issue, find out what is really going on out there in America (good, bad, and indifferent), and get a glimpse into what your life might look like when you get "old" get this book.
OK C J, should we organize a campaign here on the Alzheimer's Reading Room to do something about this?
It would not be hard for me to organize a simple email campaign to try and catch the attention of President Obama on this issue. I could automate the process. Press a couple of buttons and away goes the prefabricated email.
I will say this. If the only volunteers in this effort are you and me, CJ, its gonna be a useless endeavor.
On the other hand, if we could get 50 or more really committed volunteers to help us start the ball rolling we might be able to accomplish something.
Interested in trying to do something about this? Raise your hand.
*Caring for Our Parents
**Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living.
***Caring for Our Parents
More Insight and Advice from the Alzheimer's Reading Room
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- What is Alzheimer's Disease?
- What is Dementia?
- What’s the Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
- Communicating in Alzheimers World
- How the Loss of Memory Works in Alzheimer’s Disease, and How Understanding This Could Help You
- Learning How to Communicate with Someone Suffering From Alzheimer's Disease
- Alzheimer's World -- Trying to Reconnect with Someone Suffering from Alzheimer's Disease
- About the Alzheimer's Reading Room
Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 3,361 articles with more than 397,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room