The caregiver's marathon | June 15, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - June 15, 2012

The caregiver's marathon

Every day, family members cope with the challenges of caring for ailing parents and spouses

by Sue Dremann

Bea Crane, 69, had a good life in New Orleans. She ran a hammock shop near the French Quarter; jazz, bistros and friends surrounded her.

This story contains 2796 words.

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Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at


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Posted by observer
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2012 at 10:10 am

There are a lot of other angles to aging.

One is the elderly person who lives in an unsuitable home but refuses to plan realistically for later life.

I have an extremely elderly relative who told me it is each person's responsibility to think ahead to some extent (at least, if one reaches a certain age -- let's say, 80) and PLAN for choices, options, financing of one's later part of life. This person made a choice to live in a CCRC (continuing care retirement community) which is excellent (fyi - it's not in this area) and I have stayed overnight in a guest room there and been very impressed. I could see myself living in one of their independent living apartments. This person also tells me she has "peace of mind" and this is valuable.
By contrast, some people stick their heads in the sand and absolutely refuse to plan ahead realistically and this greatly burdens their family members. I realize not everyone can afford a CCRC, so my point is more about looking ahead and getting informed. There is a lot of information around here about aging, including in the newspapers (which older people continue to read) and one can really learn a lot to prepare.

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Posted by DDee
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm

You presume that everyone will have sufficient means to make plans other than trying to stick it out in their home. While there may be a significant percentage of people around you who can, I assure you that there are 5 times more who cannot. It reminds me of all the pundits and economists who talk about housing prices and the investment values. Newsflash... for MOST Americans, just getting into a home is a life-long commitment for at least their generation, and usually two. And so many homes, even sold in those good market times, do not raise enough to pay for a care facility. So, family is the only fallback... which, by the way, is the natural and emotionally preferable and healthy way that most of the world does it. What WE don't have any longer, is a culture that provides multiple supports and understanding for the family caregivers. If the US bishops want to focus on helping the family, they might start there and drop the rest of their antics.

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Posted by C
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 15, 2012 at 5:46 pm

What I want to see in the future is the ability for people to stay in their homes with added support. When a person suffers from dementia it is extremely hard to move to a new place and start over because they have to learn everything new and it is practically impossible for them. The government should support this type of care. Also, the government should support some way of saving money for your care when you get old. And they should allow people to get genetic information about themselves without the insurance companies casting them aside because they have a marker for some disease. No one knows what triggers genes you might have in your body.

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Posted by a fan of Sue Dremman
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 15, 2012 at 8:20 pm

thanks so much for this compelling story parents live in Michigan and the drop in housing values there has been catastrophic for older persons there. That coupled with the financial services fiasco has left many without a lot of options. Our nation is going to be really strapped for care of elders if we don't figure out some options for the future. My parents saved and lived frugally their whole lives but it's not easy.

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Posted by Raymond Lavine
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2012 at 10:06 am

We own property in Pescadreo.

I welcome these stories because it provides "word pictures" of what happens to those who are care givers and those who need care giving.

As we plan for retirement -- we also need to have a plan for extended care. As there are consequences with planning for retirement, there are consequences with not having a plan for care giving.

Let me put this in Plain Facts and Plan English -- care giving and how we think about care giving is changing.

It is emotional, it is physicial, and it is financial. Every quote and comment reflects what is occurring with care giving.

The facts of how much it costs in the home or in a care facility is written so often, few are paying attention or taking action to own a long term care plan.

We do not own auto, home, health, disability, and life insurance because we want something to happen to us. We own it because if something happens to us we may transfer some or most of the risk to an insurance company.

None of us enjoys paying premiums, but we are always pleased when we may transfer payments to someone else.

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Posted by Mary
a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Are you aware that in CA you can be paid as a (family) caregiver for a family member? Also in CA you may have a friend paid and only about 22 U.S. states allow a family member or friend to be paid as a c/g via county/state programs. If state budget allows at least it is something to help so check it out. Plus other resources can come with that once you're in the door to services so to speak.....