Losing our minds

The broken system of senior citizen care and its effects on our parents


Photo by Submitted

“Rooted in our groundbreaking research of the healthiest, longest-lived people on earth, the Blue Zones® Life Challenge is four weeks toward a better you” Blue Zones — Dan Buettner.

The youth are taking the pandemic hard by missing out on all of the normal experiences of being young, but do they really have it the worst?

My mom is part of Gen X which, right now, is the sandwich generation — people still raising kids and taking care of their parents simultaneously. I have watched my mom burden herself too much while taking care of her deteriorating parents and I believe some laws need to change.

My grandma has had dementia for years and for a while my grandpa took care of her in her early stages. They live together in a house and slowly over the last several years, her empty mind has caused my grandpa a lack of stimulation. He now has Alzheimer’s. 

For years my mom has been bringing them food, cleaning their house, getting rid of things they don’t use and taking care of her mom. Some of the horrors she has had to go through with memory-disabled parents are unlike anything you can imagine. 

My mom said you watch your kids learn to walk, talk and mature while your parents revert back to children — throwing tantrums, wearing diapers and becoming picky eaters. This has put so much extra strain on her and it has been exacerbated by the pandemic. 

Isolation was the worst thing that ever could have happened to my grandparents. They have been deteriorating faster than ever since the start of the pandemic and it has been impossible to quickly get them into a care facility.

My mom said there are waiting lists ranging from one to four years long. In that time, they wait for senior citizens to hopefully get worse and require memory care, which is much more expensive than senior living. 

Most facilities my mom has looked at run 10-15 thousand dollars a month and are capable of depleting people of their entire life’s savings. It’s corrupt politics. 

Dan Buettner, award winning author and journalist, traveled the world exploring places where a high percentage of people live to be 100 or more. His book and his website both titled “Blue Zones” explain ways to live not only a long life, but a good one. 

This includes areas like diet, fitness, activities and social networks. These guidelines (and things you can do now) should help you with your parents when they enter seniority. They could avoid deteriorating and being alone like my grandparents have.

As it stands, seniors in the U.S. are set up to fail. 

I believe waiting lists should be regulated and on a needs basis. It should also be easier to move your loved ones into facilities when they are a danger to themselves. 

Senior care should also be partially subsidized because with private care, some potential residents are less attractive to these facilities when they do not have a lot of money. In most cases, the cost is too high for the services provided. 

I think people in my generation need to recognize the people who are struggling the most right now: our parents. 

The ones who may still have kids to take care of in addition to their ailing parents. 

Plueger can be reached at [email protected].