An article in my local paper today brought to light the fact that some elderly couples will go through a divorce in order to get assistance with their living expenses in various senior's homes. I cannot recall the %, but it seems to be a new trend as times get harder, prices increase, and senior's expenses are beyond their capabilities. I totally feel for all of them and worry about my own future as well, along with my mother's future. It's not like I am a hard-nosed nasty woman not caring.
But I try to look at the bigger picture. What have we seen in the news repeatedly over the years? Various unions fighting for higher wages and more benefits for nursing home staff. It was a big thing here a year or two ago, and in the paper almost every day for ages. Okay so along comes some higher pay, and better benefit packages - well who is supposed to pay for that? Isn't it the people using the nursing home? The residents? Grandma and Grandpa? Who else is there to pay for these increases in wages and benefits? Oh - the government? Well since the govt doesnt actually make money, it's more like a lender or a broker, that means the money is coming from us taxpayers - AND some of those very seniors as well. Whether it's through taxes on their pensions, or taxes on products they purchase such as toilet paper, prescriptions, food - you know, the important stuff? - they are paying these higher taxes to go toward senior's assistance programs and little by little more of their money is taken away and they in turn can no longer afford to stay at their home and divorce after 60 years so that they can both claim single and get some govt aide. What a lovely system we have set up for everyone. Isnt it charming?
Basically the article calls for more assistance for couples so they don't have to divorce. And also cheaper rates for living in a nursing home. Okay - but then where is THAT money going to come from? Oh from the taxes on pensions, taxes on everyone else, taxes on products -- what about the workers? How are they going to keep getting paid the same rate if the money coming into the home from the residents is lower? Ohhhh I get it - from the taxpayers again. So granny and grampy might get to stay married and get some more assistance - but they really won't be any better off at the end of the day. Everything will cost more through a different manner instead. What is it about this system that creates such havoc every time they try to fix it?
I thought about this a lot today because one of my coworkers has worked in senior's homes for many years. She recently started working with the other end of the age scale at my daycare :) Anyway she showed me the article and said it's 'digusting' how much some have to pay. I thought I would try a little banter to see what happened... I said "Well I seem to recall all of you and your unions demanding higher pay and benefits, so someone has to pay for that". I got the huff and puff response. She told me the name of the doctor that runs the home she worked in and was practically spitting while saying that he drives around in his fancy car while people in his assited living home are struggling. Yes, I realize that looks really bad to many - perhaps he could take less of a profit from it (if he is even actually profitting, who knows) but we can also choose where to put our seniors in the first place! there are several in my city and more being built to accomodate the future influx of seniors - but that man is also a physician and his car and big nice house may very well be a direct product of THAT, not the senior's home. It's hard to say, but she doesnt know for sure either. All she does know is that the seniors are having to pay a higher and higher amount to live in these places, while their pensions are not increasing and they become financially stuck.
I get that. It upsets me as well. I can barely stand to think about the number of poor senior's out there. My mom gets nowhere near enough in pension to pay for some of the assisted living places around here, so if something happens to her (she is 66), she would be stuck. Oh but wait - that's where HER FAMILY comes in. How many of these seniors are left there by family members who simply do not want to take care of their own parent(s)? How many are really and truly alone with no family anywhere to help them? I know that if my mom had a stroke or something and needed full time care, her pension is almost the same as what I clear in my job each month so I could actually stay home full or part time to care for her. And I have a son who is less than a year away from the age where he can work almost anywhere, so he could help too. I would rather teach my son about sacrificing a few things in order to help his grandmother than try to ship her off to a senior's home, even though she could most likely qualify for assistance. It would be hard. My mom and I argue more than we talk nice lol, but she is my mom and I will not be stuffing her into some room and visit her once a week, then once a month, then only at holidays. No way. We have already discussed this, my partner and I, and he is adamant that my mom is not going to a home. It would be hard, it's never easy.
My aunt's mother in law got alzheimer's and it was very hard. Oh man, for years they had so much trauma with that situation, but she lived in their home. My aunt still worked for the justice dept so they had someone come in to help with her during the day, but their wages allowed for that. If it didnt' then my aunt and her husband would have worked something else out. They would not put her in a home because they felt they owed her more than that.
So there are many ways to look at this situation. I am not going to diss those that do have their parent or grandparent in a home, but those that complain about the cost really have to take a step back and absorb the whole picture. It would probably not cost 3 grand a month for that parent to live with a family member, depending on medical needs and the family could be more assured that their senior was being treated well, getting the care they need every day, etc without a huge bill hanging over their heads each month. It's not easy no matter what someone chooses - it's not MEANT to be easy! But if the staff demand to be paid more, if the nursing care costs more, if the benefit packages are larger, then SOMEONE has to pay for that! We already pay pensions above and beyond what any of these seniors paid through CP becasue the cost of living has skyrocketed since they were working - we already put almost 50% of taxes into the health care system including senior care... what more can be done and what has to be sacrificed instead? How about the people working there stop getting their union to fight for higher pay and just suck it up instead? I know in my job I cannot make much per hour or no parents would be able to afford childcare other than the super rich so I dont even bother asking for raises! I know what the result of that would be immediately - higher fees for working parents. So hello - people in the seniors home yell and scream for more money because their job is so hard and demanding, and then cant figure out why it costs so much for seniors to live there.
It's not rocket science.