Saturday, August 30, 2008

When Are The Driving Days Over?

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My family is very important to me. Just as when my children were young, now I am concerned about my elderly parent and in-laws.
We are at the crossroads of how to get my father-in-law to stop driving. In all my years of dealing with the elderly, somehow things don't always work out the way experts advise. And I'm one of the experts! So when are the driving days over?

My 88 year old father-in-law became disoriented this afternoon on his way to our home. He and my mother-in-law left home at 4:05 pm, were to pick up a pizza and be to our home easily by 5:00 pm. At 5:45, my husband left to look for them, thinking they may have had a flat tire or some other car problem. His parents arrived at 6:00 pm, shakey but none the worse for wear. I came to find out he had passed our street several times and gotten "lost" in a school parking area. Yes, it sounds preposterous but it's true.

In his own words, my father-in-law said " I think my driving days are over". If it's only that easy. I'll see it when I believe it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Medicare Plans Coming Around Again

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Economic times have been hard on everyone, but especially the senior citizen on a fixed income. Although it is only the end of August, in two and a half months, the hype will start on Medicare health plans.

Many seniors are aware of Medicare and Medicare Supplements. The government supplies Medicare(which you have already contributed to)and Medicare Supplements are private companies plans approved for sale to the over age 65 population to pick up the 20% not covered under Medicare. That is a rough explanation, by the way. For a more detailed explanation, go to

The reason I mention the elderly and Medicare plans coming into view November 15th, is because the confusion continues...not always due to poor explanations on the part of the plan companies, but due to the fact the elderly plainly cannot comprehend the complicated details of what is covered and how the deductibles work. The Medicare Advantage Plans further add to the confusion. I do, however, think these plans are definitely worth the time to figue them out.

Once again, let me say, it is NOT all the fault of the insurance companies. Granted, they need to get their act together sooner rather than later. Meaning, talking about what is available and changing details time after time before the end of each calendar year is unacceptable. Also,someone in Medicare needs to make a decision on approving these plans sooner then December of each year!

Let's see what happens in 22 1/2 months.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Cat, Not Me!

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Recently, I am not only caring for elderly parents but an elderly cat as well. I can say one thing for the parents, at least they can talk to me so that I can understand!

Our almost 20 year-old cat has been missing the litter box lately. Not only was a tropical storm approaching, but the cat had an appointment with the vet! Fun times. Luckily, the appointment was for Saturday afternoon when "daddy" could hold her...she's a one man cat you know. Other then kidney problems with old age, she is doing remarkably well. No diabetes, no bladder infection. As with other seniors, she is simply getting older. Incontinence is a problem with humans and animals in old age.

Hope I don't see you there.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Women in Poverty

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I saw an article in the Kansas City Star news that truly says it all. "Those who helped others should not be left in Proverty" is the title.

Kathleen Hermes writes about the life of her mother-in-law who had passed away. Like many women, she was a wife and mother who gave much of her life caring for children, a husband, and parents. Hermes points out that this type of care is not given an economic value. Consequently, the poverty rate of women over 65 is twice that of men over 65. According to Hermes, only one out of five women will live out her life with a "financial safety net". The other four will die in poverty.

This IS 2008, isn't it? For more on this disturbing truth, go to

Friday, August 8, 2008

To Test or Not To Test

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Been a while since I posted, but several things have been happening.

My sister has been in town for a visit. As luck would have it, mother had a doctor's appointment and it had been discussed by ALL of us that we would talk to the doctor about more memory testing to see what could be done for mom, if anything.

I must say, I was disappointed in her doctor. Nice as he was, he seemed to be missing the point of our questions. You see, he had prescribed Aricept about a year ago, when we first broached the subject following a memory test clinic where I had taken mother. The doctor there had enough concern about her responses, he suggested further tests, including MRI, to diagnose dementia or not. The Aricept made her dizzy and after a month and a half, she stopped taking it. My sister and I have seen a decline in time concept, (she gets times and dates confused or forgets altogether). The problem of remembering nouns, names of things, people and places, has only gotten worse. Mother agrees it concerns her too.

Her primary care physician says he will not put her through the tests. When I asked why, his response was that "this is her, this is the way she is." He feels she is doing well for her age and she loves to hear that. She IS doing well, and we want to keep her that way! To live independently and healthy as possible is our only goal.

Mother is happy the doctor "took her part". For some reason, she doesn't understand we are only trying to delay the progress of what seems inevitable. Perhaps, what really is inevitable is we're just beating our heads against the wall.