Image from 1.lehigh.edu/
Image from 1.lehigh.edu/

Laura Katz Olson studied elder care for more than 4 decades now. Her specialization focuses on how social welfare policies relate to long term care. However, the greatest lesson she learned was not at the four corners of her classroom but when she assumed a caregiving role to her own mother; Dottie. She’s old, alone and struggling with her cognitive impairment due to Parkinson’s disease.

“Who would ever think that my mom used to be an athlete and has been very active her entire life?”, Laura related. In her adult years, Dottie won in the Olympic Games held at Florida and received medals in basketball, swimming and bicycle racing competitions. When she retired, she relied on her small Social Security pension to get by.  However, she didn’t have other assets or savings that will serve as a cushion at her times of financial needs. In a public housing apartment, she lived a simple life but things changed when she aged 83.  She lost her independence due to her Parkinson’s disease. She started having loss of vision too. And because she was 1,200 miles away from Laura, caregiving became a grueling task.

“I thought that the Medicaid program will suffice for my mom to have the care that she need in her own home. However, I was wrong since truth is; there is not enough help for low income elderlies with multiple chronic conditions”, Laura stated.

Under Florida’s Medicaid plan, Dottie only qualified for 10 hours in home care assistance. So, Laura decided to move her mom to Pennsylvania where she lives. She learned that in such condition, children need to fill in the huge gaps and this has definitely created significant effect on her physical, financial and emotional well-being. Laura felt such responsibility to be very overwhelming.

“The social system of the country is stingy and punitive”, Laura declared. Many times, she struggled to contest to prove that her mother is eligible for all the services she needs. She found out that nursing homes in Florida have appalling and negligent treatment for her mother’s post-acute care. She witnessed their indifference to her mom’s cognitive needs on top of the disdain regulation of the government, unpalatable meal and slapdash patient care. This terribly shook her. Her mom ended in a nursing home after she had a bad fall in 2012. Though their goal is to help her recover so she can go home, she never regained the ability to walk again with very limited therapy and negligent care. Hence, Laura decided to transfer her mom to a county nursing home near her where she is receiving decent care. This allows Laura to visit her mom daily too.

Getting old is inevitable but surprisingly, not everyone is prepared enough when this comes. Nothing can be better than getting the assistance that you need without going away from your own home. But the expenses it requires will need long years of savings.

Some people who wanted to increase the quality of senior care and earn income at the same time invest on a senior care franchise. This did not only help them increase their savings but it paved the way to a better elderly care for people like Dottie.