A fascinating article about the unpredictable business of dying.
Those suffering from physical frailty, lose the ability to walk, to dress themselves or to move from bed to wheelchair without a Hoyer lift and the strong backs of aides earning so little that many qualify for food stamps. These patients, often referred to as the old-old, require diapers, spoon-feeding and frequent repositioning in bed to avoid bedsores. Those with dementia, most often Alzheimer’s disease, lose short-term memory, fail to recognize loved ones, get lost without constant supervision and eventually forget how to speak and swallow.
What all of these patients need, Dr. Lynn said, is custodial care, which can easily cost $100,000 a year and is not reimbursed by Medicare. The program was created in 1965 when hardly anyone lived this long.
“We’re doing this so badly because we’ve never been here before,” Dr. Lynn said. “But the care system we’ve got didn’t come down from the mountain. We made it up, and we can make it up better.”