As we move closer to the start of the Chemotherapy and Radiation, (looks like we’ll be starting on August 29th), we are attempting to go about our lives as best we can. The long and introspective talks are followed by fun and laughter. In our opinion, humor is the best way to go about dealing with a serious illness. Humor and sarcasm can go a long way in taking the ‘edge’ off serious health related issues. While we want to be politically correct, we want to be able to talk freely about what we are dealing with because this disease has a profound affect on both of us. We are in this together, side by side…one by one. There is no other way to deal with this than head on; we are present to each other in our words, actions and deeds. While I can’t feel his ‘pain’, I can’t let it go unnoticed either.
During our discussions this week, I have learned that there is a 20% co-pay for the radiation treatments. Florida insurance can be tricky; yet luckily there are terrific resources available in Florida for seniors. The Aging and Disability Center of Broward County is a great source for us http://www.adrcbroward.org/ as is my old stomping ground…Broward County Elderly and Veterans Services…http://www.broward.org/eldervets/Pages/Default.aspx.
I am often amazed at how few people (seniors) access services that are available; hence the need for an advocate! 20% is quite a bit for someone who is on a fixed income to come up with on a moments notice. What does one do when their insurance will not pick up the entire tab? Our country can give millions of dollars abroad, yet at times, we have trouble taking care of our own. It can be perplexing?
When one is dealing with the trauma of being sick and having cancer; all their efforts should be focused on getting better. Having an advocate will help alleviate the burden of all the ‘red-tap’ that comes with dealing with insurance companies, multiple health care providers and the such. I often wonder and have seen it for myself…’How does a senior, or anyone for that matter, fend for themselves when they are sick and alone?’ Some are to proud to reach out for help; some families are too scared and broken to know when, or ever worse, how to help.
Senior care is a big money making business; while there are plenty of wonderful, mission driven non-profit organization caring for seniors, there are other organizations who make their health care decisions based on the financial bottom line. My advice is to choose wisely; hence, another need for an advocate…hence the need for love, passion and commitment.
The advances in Medicine has far outweighed the advances in caring for our seniors. People are living longer and money does not go as far as it once did. I often chuckle when I hear the debate in regards to Social Security reform. How many people recall that when FDR started to implement the Social Security System, the average age expectancy was in the late 50’s early 60’s. Of course it was a good deal at the beginning…how many people lived beyond the average age expectancy? According to the Census Bureauhttp://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2011/tables/11s0102.pdf the average life expectancy today is 79.5. I’ve never been a math whiz, yet looking at the life expectancy in the 1930’s versus today, there is a 19 year difference in the life expectancy rate over the past 80 years. Multiply that with the increase of our population…well, I think you know where I’m going with that; the figures are astounding! It is no wonder the system is broken…
Times have changed, but change is difficult. The debate will continue in the halls of congress, yet to do nothing, is not taking on the role of an advocate, which in my opinion, is a role our government has often overlooked in today’s political process. While we should not solely relay on our government for aid and assistance; our government should not be the road block to the assistance as well. Leadership and advocacy comes hand in hand; you can’t do one without the other. It is difficult to make decisions based on a need, unless you have experienced that need. How many politicians have trouble coming up with the 20% down?
At the time of the depression in the 1930’s there was a radical call to action, “million of people were unemployed, and those circumstances led to many calls for change.” If you listen to the news today, that sounds quite familiar. There is radical call for change, yet the government is to polarized to change. Change will come when the people stand up for it; that does not seem to far around the corner. (Follow the link for some great information on the history of Social Security http://www.ssa.gov/history/briefhistory3.html).
At the time of the great depression and beyond, families cared for each other, it was the right of passage. Grandparents were not set aside, yet celebrated and cared for with honor and dignity and often in the family home. While families today are ‘different’…we all have to set aside the time to care for each and everyone in our family. It is our human responsibility to care for those whom we love, and whom we entrust our lives too.
I close this evening with this simple, yet complex analogy of how times have changed over the years. Using the 30’s as an example…other than medical personnel, no one was allowed in the delivery room at a hospital when a baby was born. Today, families celebrates the birth of a baby with a ‘welcoming committee’ in the delivery room; it is a beautiful event. In contrast, in the 30’s, generations of families lived together in one household, and at the time of death, the wake of a loved one was right at the home of the deceased. As these important life rituals have changed, we must continue to be mindful of how we celebrate life.
If we are to celebrate life, we need to celebrate all parts of life. As the birthing process has changed over the years to a welcoming committee of family and friends; too many seniors are dying alone, without much fanfare, without much hope. As we ponder our future; let us celebrate life to its fullest; let no one go unnoticed at their time of birth or at their time of death. Because in the scheme of things, that 20% down, pales in comparison to the love and commitment of our family and friends during our entire lifespan; love is what makes life work!