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LQD: an economy that eats its parents

by DeAnander Sun Nov 18th, 2007 at 05:05:29 PM EST

retired US ambassador with no health care:

Quickly we switched over to Medicaid, which would pick up roughly fifty percent of the cost of the 24 hour care, and breathed deeply with prayers, hoping this would somehow work. The monthly cost for caring for him is around $12,000, so we wound up having to pay roughly $6,000 a month. Now a year has passed, and dear dad is still fighting for life, breathing, eating, and seeing his family every day, though his condition continues to worsen.

But we cannot afford to keep paying for the care.

Requiem for the American Dream — Diary Rescue by Migeru

It has finally come to this. And we are on the verge of having to sell the family house, the only thing of value we have left. Now, it's easy to think that we're rich -- and there are certainly millions of people out there in the United States who have it worse than we do -- but we certainly are not rich, in any way, shape, or form. We once had security, in the house and in investments. But it has all dwindled away because of the escalating prices of everything these days, including health care. We are not rich. We have next to nothing. And now we are being forced to make the extremely difficult decision to sell our house in order to take care of dear Dad.

We all know what's happening to the economy in this country. To sell property at this time is akin to economic suicide. Clearly we are on the verge of a depression, no matter what our corporate media tell us. And our family finds itself in the position in which so many wonderful Americans find themselves: having to sell out to the system in order to stay alive. I have investigated alternatives, contacted various governmental associations, sought out any avenue I could find, to help us. Heck, I've even considered contacting Henry Kissinger, with whom my father once worked. But we all know about Henry, don't we? Who the hell would want to shake hands with a world renown war criminal, one of the chief architects of our demise in this country, just to get some financial assistance for a slowly dying true hero? We sure don't. We would rather waste away than go there. After all, we still have integrity, while Henry can't even travel to most places in the world for fear of being arrested. We will have to sell the house.

Whether or not we accept the writer's asssment of his Dad as a True Hero (with all the jingoistic US#1 framing not quoted here), every American with aged parents shivers in unease and fear at stories like this.  Increasingly, long-lived parents do not leave an estate to their kids:  they are more likely to leave debts incurred for long term care.  And the quality of many "elder care facilities" rivals VA hospitals for Hogarthian horror.  If children or grandchildren do not closely monitor the situation, "warehoused" elders are all too often drugged into docility and left without human interaction for hours or days at a time.

The med/pharma developments that have made it possible to keep extremely aged people alive -- if less than functional -- for 2 decades longer than was normal 2 generations ago, are having all kinds of knockon effects.  It places old people and their families in an invidious position:  gramps or gramma is painfully conscious (if conscious of much at all) of being a burden and a financial risk to the family, while the family lives in fear of being bankrupted by long term elder care... and yet the existence of the technology means that allowing an elderly person to "slip away" by eschewing the intense life support offered by the med mafia feels like murder.  And who, other than systematically abused children, wants their parents dead?  If there is any option to keep Mom or Dad alive and provide 24x7 care to compensate for intensifying disability or dementia, filial duty and natural affection demand it.  (More than 50 pct of US health care dollars are spent on extending the last 6 months of life, or so I have read.  This figure is probably skewed by emergency medicine for trauma victims, but it's still an indicator.)

Unintended consequences galore...  no easy way out, other than -- what?  an organised movement of the aged to boycott such services and move to Oregon?  And even I cannot honestly say that, at the age of 89, I would have the Illichian courage of my convictions to that extent.  Here is technology as an ethical trap of exquisite cruelty, and a captive market of the most vulnerable kind being squeezed for all they are worth -- literally -- by finance capital.

"This is a quantum leap in service integration in the area of elder care, and it's a synergy that couldn't have been better orchestrated," said LifeCare's James Weil, one of the nation's principal authorities on issues of business and aging.
Approximately one-third of LifeCare covered employees are facing adult caregiving issues -- a figure that Weil says will continue to increase over time as the life expectancy of our population increases. According to Weil, over the next two years, it is estimated that more than 40% of the workforce will be caring for aging loved ones.


You can almost hear them licking their lips:

"The private market," says Cohen, "has tremendous potential for financing long-term care. But", he continues, "many falsely believe that health insurance or Medicare will cover long-term care expenses(5)".

Cohen and others have proposed incentives to encourage the purchase of private long-term care insurance. These include allowing a tax deduction for long-term care premiums, as well as allowing states to exempt a person's primary residence from Medicaid liens if the owner has purchased an approved long-term care policy(6).

the Mafia is envious.  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Fri Nov 16th, 2007 at 01:10:02 AM EST

short and sweet.

been missing your way with words around here, gaianne, good to hear from you!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Nov 18th, 2007 at 01:55:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Sicilian mafia long since moved into the medical business, a pet project of Bernardo Provenzano. There are some outstanding citizens in Philadelfia that may be vaguely aware of it.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun Nov 18th, 2007 at 07:14:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not long ago, in an interview concerning the opening of a new hospital belonging to a private bank, the bank representative had the following candid statement:

"The health care industry is very interesting for us, one might say it is only surpassed in value by the weapons industry" (and then laughed at her little "joke")

by Torres on Mon Nov 19th, 2007 at 11:32:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I protest, I was lured here under false pretence!

I thought this was a LQD, but out of 967 words only 576 were quotes. That is less than 60% and provides a LQD quotient only approaching 3 to 5.

It frankly leaves me baffled to still(!) find this imprecision.

by PeWi on Fri Nov 16th, 2007 at 05:44:09 AM EST
the mangement sincerely apologises for a momentary lapse in the high laziness levels to which our customers have become accustomed, and promises to maintain a much lower commentary-to-quote ratio in future editions marked with the LQD (TM) brand


The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Nov 16th, 2007 at 06:49:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 11:53:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To someone who does not live in the US, this sort of thing is frankly astonishing. In fact, I meant to post my incredulity over at rdf's fine page on making do with less. It is ridiculous that people who are retired actually have to come up with an amount that is a substantial fraction of a rental of a low-value property every month just to fund health insurance. (I mean, at the time I did a quick calculation and worked out that rdf was paying half to two-thirds the value of a cheap flat in HK - where I live and thus my point of reference - for medical ... and flat rentals in HK are not cheap!)

I repeat, it is absurd, and quite literally unbelievable, even to people from other, comparatively harsh Anglo-Saxon societies like the UK, and especially to people from places like Australia or New Zealand (which themselves are not really that great compared to Europe. Having Anglo heritage sucks). How in the world have people in the US been conned into thinking they've got it made in the greatest society on Earth? I know modern propaganda was invented there and is applied mercilessly, but even so, it beggars the mind that people put up with this crap ...

by wing26 on Fri Nov 16th, 2007 at 07:54:09 AM EST
How can they overlook these things?
The same way that they have been trained to ignore a half million dead children from the Iraq sanctions before the war. No one who studies the event honestly denys the general range of the numbers or the reality of the event --but the 25%. And those who choose not to hear. Like- the rest of us.

Osama Bin Laden has not forgotten. Read his words. If you can find them.

How can they overlook this?
The same way that the Lancet study recording state-of-the-art casualty data suggesting that three quarters of a million  dead people were a part of the human price (to date)for our oil theft, can be disappeared.
How can we overlook a dead sparrow - on the killing fields of a million plus people?



Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Nov 16th, 2007 at 12:53:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"We Think the Price Is Worth It"

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Nov 16th, 2007 at 01:10:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The flight path zig-zags over the world. Read your Weber. Take cover. Practice your primary school drills or live free. For the "American" value system, ego it "values voters," recognize naught but the market price of things, extrinsic or fungible terms of exchange that express the living and the dead. Every thing in "America" is inanimate and identified by numberable properties which necessarily reveal functional differences in between one thing and an other. If you try, I dare you to find any US wonk or wag aside from the religious who holds human being unique and infinite in their respect. "Americans" don't do intimacy. They don't demonstrate "amorous feelings" for their figures. Doing so would not be "professional." And not being "professional" guarantees certain death.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Nov 18th, 2007 at 05:38:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but people have to make do in the context in which then live, no matter how awful it is. it is a broken country, in so many ways, but it's where our homes, family and friends are. it's a hard thing to up and leave all that, even if there are places elsewhere run much less cruelly. and even then, you've got to have the funds to be able to pull it off, which as this makes clear, aren't exactly easy to come by as you're being bled white by the system.
by wu ming on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 03:48:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We are paying over $2,000 a year for long term care insurance that we may never need but now can't afford to be without.  My aged parents have no such insurance so we may end up bankrupt despite our insurance.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 02:45:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it:  It is simply the way it is.  

Not likely to change, either.  No politician will go near the subject.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sat Nov 17th, 2007 at 11:58:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
specifically to fund the medical establishment.
I can't easily care for my aging parents even.  Parents are not ALLOWED to compensate their kids for care.  They have to go into the home, spend down all of their assets.  These people are worse than the Gestapo in their institutionalized policies. They want the aged in a home where they can charge $100 for a tylenol.
by Lasthorseman on Sun Nov 18th, 2007 at 08:02:39 PM EST
Cost of Elderly Care Is Double Prior Estimates - New York Times

The out-of-pocket cost of caring for an aging parent or spouse averages $5,531 a year, according to the nation's first in-depth study of such expenses, a sum that is more than double previous estimates and more than the average American household spends each year on health care and entertainment combined.

Family members responsible for ailing loved ones provide not only "hands on" care, but reach often into their own pockets to pay for many other expenses of care recipients, including groceries and household goods, drugs and medical co-payments and transportation, which nudges the average cost of long-distance caregiving to $8,728 a year.

These caregivers, spending on average 10 percent of their household income, manage the financial burden by taking out loans,skipping vacations, dipping into savings or ignoring their own health care.

These findings, and others, come from a telephone survey of 1,000 adults currently caring for someone over the age of 50 who needs help with activities like bathing, preparing meals, shopping or managing finances. It is the first systematic look at out-of-pocket spending among the estimated 34 million Americans providing care for an older (50-plus) family members or friends, and it builds on a landmark 2004 study.


A long article...
I find it hard to believe that this is the first in-depth study that has been made...?

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sun Nov 18th, 2007 at 08:48:09 PM EST
and of course the system is made to order for the unfilial child who wants Mummy or Daddy to die without being a nuisance:  survival rates in "elder care" facilities are not that great, even when we rule out egregious incompetence, malpractise, or cruelty.

study after study shows that elders live longer with better preservation of their faculties and higher quality of life when they are not segregated into old-folks ghettos but live in a village-like setting with a close community of mixed ages, doing some grandparently social time with kids, interacting with a range of adults, etc.

this careful segregation, the Taylorisation of housing and care, contributes to disability and depression in the aged, which of course feeds the myth that elders need to be segregated, etc.  I could go on at almost indefinite length but will restrain myself...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon Nov 19th, 2007 at 05:35:38 PM EST
I shoulda said "healthy lifespans" rather than "survival  rates" -- anno domini gets us all in the end, nobody gets outta here alive -- but dumping elders into the average US care home is a good way to multiply their medical expenses (profits galore for the med mafia) by reducing their competetent lifespan and extending their incompetent or helpless lifespan.

it's always more profitable to do things wrong.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon Nov 19th, 2007 at 05:56:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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