News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

March 8, 2006

Pete Chalos: The future of elderly care in America

This past month, my family and I have been reviewing all available options for the future care of me and my wife Ulla. At 78 years old, I am finding that I can no longer take care of myself and my wife the way I once could. In truth, it’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to do so on my own, but learning to accept and admit it has been a difficult process.

My son John is still unmarried and without children so much of the burden has fallen on his shoulders this past four years. There has not been a week since Ulla and I began having serious health issues that John hasn’t exceeded 40 hours in caring for us and it has often been quite a bit more than that. My son Jim is a firefighter, runs a carpet-cleaning business, sits on the City Council and raises four children. My daughter Kathy is a teacher, is pursuing her masters degree, is campaigning for County Council and has two children. Jim and his family come by the house to help out whenever possible. Kathy gives me my insulin shot and medication every morning, handles my finances and brings her family to see us every week. The rest of the family contributes whenever they can.

In reviewing our options this past month, we have considered moving into an assisted living complex. The facility we toured seems pleasant and adequate for our needs but the prices are extremely high. The other alternative is to hire a reliable agency to provide qualified full-time caregivers on a daily basis which would also be extremely expensive.

There is no option on the table that is not costly. Continuing to allow the family to bear the responsibility is the most affordable option in terms of finance but may end up costing us the most by robbing our children of opportunities.

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