The state of the medical insurance industry in our nation, as it exists right now, seems to make no one in Washington, D.C. happy.

Why can’t they find some middle ground? Well, mostly because the premises of each side are incompatible with those of the other, so there is little common ground on which they can stand to reach an understanding, in spite of the fact that every other advanced industrialized nation, as diverse as Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Singapore, and Japan, has found a way.

So, we know we can’t be friends with everyone. Sometimes it’s hard just to be kind to some acquaintances. Then again, it’s possible to love people that you don’t really like.

Around the holidays, it seems that all those things are exaggerated. Whether it’s work, church, home or extended family, we are bombarded with amplified social obligations. So, when we’re struggling in any relationship those issues can become larger than life.

Family caregivers are among America’s unsung heroes.

Today, an estimated 65.7 million Americans, or nearly 30 percent of the general population, provide unpaid care to an older adult or a younger person living with illness or disability. These family caregivers devote enormous time, energy and resources to ensure their loved one can remain living with dignity in familiar surroundings.

Research shows that nearly 90 percent of people age 65 and older want to stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible. Many older adults rely on family or friend caregivers for the support to make that possible. Those family caregivers are the foundation of long-term care nationwide.

Questions and Answers about Long Term Care

  1. What are some good resources to learn about the skilled nursing facilities in the area?  It seems as though you can get great care in some places and not in other places. 


  1. One of the best places you can find information about nursing homes is on Medicare’s website.  There you can compare reports on nursing homes within a zip code range, or look for information by name of facility.  Included in the report is information on how nursing homes have performed on health and fire safety inspections, how the nursing home is staffed with nurses and other healthcare providers, and how well the nursing home cares for their residents.  This information comes, primarily, from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) health inspection database, a national database of resident clinical data known as the Minimum Data Set (MDS), and Medicare claims’ data.

Another great resource for information about nursing homes, and long term care options in general, is the Michigan Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.  This program is authorized in the Older Americans Act and the Older Michiganians Act and works to address the quality of care and quality of life for residents who live in licensed long term care facilities.  If you have questions about long term care options in general, or concerns about a specific facility, the local Long Term Care Ombudsman is a great resource and an advocate for nursing facility residents. Learn more about the program at or by calling 866-485-9393.

My father was an aeronautical visionary. In WWII, when a small plane was needed to fly supplies into and wounded persons out of remote areas with hardly any landing space, a design competition was held. When engineering teams presented their creations to see which could land and take off in the shortest strip of runway, my father’s team landed the runway crossways. His Stinson L5, “the Flying Jeep”, hangs in the Smithsonian today. I didn’t inherit that gene.

Dereck Thompson, a writer for The Atlantic, recently wrote of interviews conducted within Google’s “Moonshot Industry”. This portion of the company is devoted to what they call radical creativity, exploring breakthrough technology to address huge societal problems.

A good friend of ours who lost her husband a few years ago told us, “Death itself is hard enough. But it’s the process of dying that is so difficult.”

She had had to assist him in most of the activities of daily living for years, including the negotiation of procedures through the medical community.

Another friend of ours suffered from a fast-spreading cancer. She had endured more than one extensive procedures, including radical surgery. But up until a few days before she died, a doctor told her family that just one more procedure would have her up and functioning normally.

My husband has decided we should go camping. We camped for many years when our kids were young, and have great memories of those times. We camped in tents, on the hard ground, and as the years went on we were able to borrow Grandpa’s trailer. Caught in a moment of sweet nostalgia, I thought it sounded fun, so I said, “yes!”

Now, I’m thinking it through. We’re renting a camper, so that’s on the pro side of the list. It has a bathroom in it, so I think that’s on the pro side as well. I don’t know how it works though, so it may end up on the other list. We used to just walk over to the campground bathroom with our flip-flops on. But now bathroom trips occur more often than they used to, and I feel a little different about using bathrooms in the woods where critters may surprise me.

Supposedly we can park the trailer at the campground, and in “five easy minutes” have it all set up. I wonder if that time frame is for 30-year-olds, or if it applies to 60-somethings? While we’re fairly fit, we have had a few new parts installed – three hips, a couple knee surgeries…you know, the usual. And so what if it takes us a half hour. That’s part of the adventure, right?

I expect we’ll take walks around the park. We did a lot of that in those early camping days. We may not go quite as far, but that’s okay. We’re also taking our dog with us, and she won’t let us just sit around. That’s a good thing.

And now I’m thinking about the dog. She’ll probably hear the move of every raccoon, squirrel and cricket, and will be forced to protect us with her ferocious bark. And I suppose there will be children around the grounds to annoy her as well. Do campers still play loud music at night? I do not want to be one of those grumpy seniors who complains about such things. Maybe we’ll go out and dance to their music until they retreat.