Monday, March 1, 2010

Healthcare: Care vs. Money

In an audio story segment of All Things Considered on NPR, Robert Siegel interviews one family dealing with costs associated with nursing homes and the Medicare that helps this family pay for it. Last year while living in an older community, it was apparrent that no one ever wanted to have to go into the nursing home. I remember one visit my grandpa took to see his friend who had just had a stroke and died a few days later. He came home and was quiet the rest of the night, aside from saying that the nursing home was too sad and depressing and he can't go back there. For Papa, I feel like his visit brought the reality of sickness and death into sight. Grammy on the other hand has a different view of nursing homes. She goes to visit her friends there at least once a week and, instead of coming home upset, she comes home to tell us how everyone is happy and holding on. Maybe she's just good at looking on the bright side and maybe Papa isn't, but there is definitely a stigma attached to nursing homes.
Studies, like the one performed by Achterberg et al, looking at the prevalence of depression in nursing homes and others focusing on elder abuse further stigmatize nursing homes, but bring up important health issues that elderly moving into nursing homes may face. The NPR interview brings up points about both quaility of care and Medicare, and shows how the federally funded Medicare has helped Gracie, the focus of the story. I think that Lela Peterson, Gracie's daughter, sums the healthcare "problem" up well when she states:
"Mom worked in an era when health care was what it was called. It was called care. Kindness and care. In today's world, health care is money," said Petersen.

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