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Going It Alone

Posted on 03/29/2012 by |Before I Forget | Comments

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Married people live longer and healthier lives.  Consider this: nine out of ten married men who are alive at 48 will make it to 65-years-old (no, it will not just seem like it) as compared with six out of 10 of men who are not married.  Women on the other hand are in better shape statistically.  So be aware men; Marriage can save your life.  Be grateful.  I will be forwarding this to my husband.

But not everyone agrees with this hypothesis.  One of my associates, Guy, insists that his wife will be the death of him.  If it could be detected, Guy is convinced, the coroner would conclude cause of demise: nagged to death.

But due to circumstances both beyond and within one’s control, the number of those living solo lives (as a percentage of all households) in the United States is 28%.  And we aren’t even the highest: Britain logs in at 34%; Sweden at a hair raising 47%.  Then there is Brazil with 10% and India the lowest at 3%

This also probably has a lot to do with overcrowding and living with one’s family rather than being a widow, divorced or a committed single.

Presently 5.4 million People have Alzheimer’s in the United States and an estimated 36 million people worldwide.  Without a way to avert or cure AD, there will be 115 million victims in the coming decades.

No matter the circumstance, living alone can be pretty unsafe and inadvisable once a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  All the perceived plusses of living alone – individual freedom, personal control and self realization – turn into negatives when faced with Alzheimer’s.

Consider this: with the onset of Alzheimer’s, one’s prized memory dwindles into bits and pieces.  Once able to remember to take pills for, say, diabetes, the AD victim now overtakes or undertakes or completely forgets to take his or her dosage.  At one time a terrific cook, now the AD victim forgets to turn off the stove and a fire breaks out.  Forget to close the door at night and a burglar doesn’t have to worry about breaking in.  Wandering, a key early symptom, becomes a habit, with no one to report an AD victim is missing.  The list goes on and on.

Anita Creamer of the Sacramento Bee reported the story of Lisa Smith last week.  Lisa, who has a very active life at the age of 89 – golf, exercise class, bridge, a curious political mind – was diagnosed two years ago with mild cognitive impairment on the way to full-blown Alzheimer’s.  A smart, energetic, outgoing woman, her life as she knew it began to slip away from her.  Divorced over thirty years ago, with her five kids scattered all over the country, she knows she will have to get help who can make decisions for her.

“It scared my children when I accidentally flooded the house,” she admitted after forgetting to turn off the water.

So she is left with getting a part-time aide or moving to a care facility which she hopes she can afford.

58 year-old Louis Bordisso, Jr., also profiled in the article in the Bee, said that like most, he would prefer to stay at home. Diagnosed two years ago with early stage Alzheimer’s, he was able to live with his Dad and share an aide.  But his Dad’s condition worsened and he is currently in a nursing home.  So now Lou is trying to figure out how to afford either get an aide for himself or go to a facility.  His finances are a problem.

Arthur McCaffrey is also in a tight spot.  As NBC News reported earlier this month, McCaffrey has no children or family, so he must face his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s at 62 — alone.  As with many sufferers, he initially chose denial.  Now 64, he is coming to terms with the disease.  He realizes he needs help to aid him in figuring out finances, keeping medical appointments and monitoring meds.  So he has decided to move to an assisted living community to get the needed help and retain his independence.  He doesn’t know how long he will be able to do that.

And there are many more like Lisa Smith and Louis Bordisso, Jr. and Arthur McCaffery.

So how do you make it in a society when an aide is $20-an-hour at home and a full-time facility can average $70,000 a year and you are barely getting by?  The Supreme Court may make part of that decision this week.  Lord knows I can’t figure it out.  But I do know we owe our senior citizens.

With these astronomical prices – which will only go up – we have to work prophylactically.  It all boils down to research.  We need the dollars.  We have to find a way to either cure or avert this hideous disease.  We can either pay today or go bankrupt tomorrow.

Photo credit: Fabio Penna on Flickr.