::::::::::::: Caregiving :::::::::::::
Love Is (Not) All You Need
To provide for loved ones who need long-term care, too many
older Americans are resorting to extreme measures.
It doesn’t have to be this way By MARY A. FISCHER
In 2004 Roberta H. and her husband, Alex, both 64, were living
a contented life in a small town in western Massachusetts. Married for 39 years, with two grown sons, they had saved for years
and were looking forward to traveling in a year or so, once they
retired from their respective
jobs—Alex was a college English professor, and Roberta was
director of communications for
a consortium of local colleges.
Then disaster struck. Alex was diagnosed with early-stage dementia and
took early retirement from his job.
Determined to care for her husband at
home, Roberta paid various people—at
a cost of about $1,000 a month—to take
him for walks, drive him to the Y, and
prepare his lunch. She filled in the gaps
by phoning him several times a day.
As his dementia worsened, though,
Alex needed full-time care, so Roberta
found an adult-daycare center that
could care for him while she worked.
For 18 months Roberta dropped off
Alex in the mornings and picked him
up after work, a routine that went well
until he had a medical emergency
and landed in the hospital. Medicare
paid for Alex’s stay, but after three
days the hospital released him,
even though he
could barely walk.
“It was such a
says Roberta. “I
had no time to
figure out where
Alex should go to
get the therapy
After a flurry of
phone calls, she
found a skilled
but I felt
I had no
nursing home that didn’t have a waiting list, but there was a big catch:
Medicare would cover only a total
of 100 days of skilled care and rehab. When the coverage ended, Roberta began drawing on the couple’s
savings, paying the nursing home
$7,500 a month, plus miscellaneous
expenses. Eight months and $75,000
later, the stock market crashed and cut
the couple’s savings in half.
“I was so scared,” Roberta recalls.
“Not only was my husband disappearing, but our savings were, too. All