Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Caregiver Blues

Yesterday my daughter Stephanie commented that I looked tired.

“I need a vacation,” I admitted.

Sometimes I feel desperate to leave this place. I have not had a real holiday in years. Sven has been reading about Portugal, remembering our lovely trip in 1993. He gets to go to Sweden every summer to see family. I stay. No paid-vacation on this job. Who would take over? One year Stephanie volunteered and I took her up on it. My son promptly scolded me: “Stephanie needs to live her life, not care for elderly relatives.” I could not agree more. Four years ago I drove Bea to my brother’s house for the last time and spent three weeks in Europe. Now that Bea doesn’t travel, I don’t either.

Pleasant Bay Rehabilitation Center will accept – what is the word? I want to say “inmates.” Residents? When the caregiver needs respite, the nursing home will readmit someone. Respite care does not come cheap: $250/day. Then there would be the fee for the ambulance to and fro. When Bea went to Cape Cod Hospital, the ambulance cost $1200. The shorter trip from the hospital to Pleasant Bay was a bargain at $625. Luckily Medicare picked up both fees.

So, let’s imagine I go away for a week. Pleasant Bay would charge $250 x 7 = $1750. The ambulance service would also be out-of-pocket $625 x 2, back and forth. The total = $1750 + $1250. $3000, without airfare! Now that is one expensive vacation.

Not to mention what the experience would do to Bea. How could she not feel abandoned? Like a plant without water, she might wither and die while I was away. Not an option.

At least we have hospice ….

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