Sunday, June 6, 2010



O.K., O.K. Deep down, I'm a pinhead.

A pinhead is someone who basically doesn't do anything, but assigns blame, does a lot of studies and, puts a boot on some one's throat or neck. Somewhat like our government.

When it comes to caring for our kupunas, the ones who do the actual work, like changing diapers, giving medical care, cleaning them up, and doing all the things that our kupunas can no longer do for themselves are the primary targets of the pinheads.

The following article appeared in the newspapers the other day.

This article presents a strong case for creating more laws, regulations and control over our paid caregivers. To be clear, I do not support our paid caregivers who abuse our kupunas. I do object, however, to having our government increase the regulations on the very people who we depend on to provide this vital service to our aging population. Increased government regulations will increase the costs for everyone and people who cannot afford full service care will not have options for lower levels of service.

Further, more regulations results in more pinheads who are paid more money to tell the caregivers what to do. It doesn't make sense to have more pinheads than caregivers.

See my Pinhead I article.

Something that may be of a bigger concern is when a person chooses to be a caregiver and the kupuna dies while under that person's care and is charged and convicted of criminal negligence.

There are a few facts to remember. First, is that sometimes the kupunas die even under the best of care. They develop bedsores and flesh-eating bacteria in hospitals all the time. Second, is that the average person wouldn't know how to care for the aged because most have not acquired the skills, much less the medical knowledge required. A Certified Nurses' Aide is not a trained medical professional. Most courses for that certification run about 3 months. All these caregivers can do is to do their best.

If the government goes after those who provide care for their loved ones because they either cannot afford nursing or care homes, then many people will opt out of being caregivers. For most people, that's an easy choice because they normally suffer financially, physically and emotionally when they become caregivers. See my Pinhead II article.

So what's the solution? First, is that everyone has to watch for our elderly. That's what healthy communities do. Not pass the responsibility to the government. In the cases of paid caregivers defrauding or abusing their patients, it often happens because family members are not paying attention. They don't visit their loved ones and instead, expect the paid caregiver to take care of everything. Even the best of facilities make mistakes and if family members visit regularly, they can keep a watchful eye or even help when staff members are overloaded.

The second solution, and one which won't require government intervention is to require or demand full disclosure by the paid caregiver. This requires individual responsibility to know exactly which services are provided and which are not. Many choose low-level care because that's all they can afford.  If that's the case, you should  keep a watchful eye on the caregiver, perhaps by helping out when you can. The choice to keep your loved ones there is yours.

Many kupunas don't have family members that can watch out for them. That's where community involvement comes into play. Churches, volunteer groups and other benevolent organizations can help to keep a watchful eye for our kupunas. Heck, I know of at least one State employee who, while working for Social Services, stole from and was convicted of defrauding an elderly client of thousands of dollars. That person now sells annuities and long-term-care insurance to the elderly.

Things become complicated because many care homes have patients receiving Medicaid, which is a taxpayer-funded program. When taxpayers pay, then the government has a duty to regulate and oversee the care. The caregiver cannot, for instance, charge the Medicaid patient $200 a day and charge the patients who struggle to pay out of their own pockets $100 a day. That is committing fraud against the government because it's overcharging the government for the same service. But, it also ends up pricing many non-Medicaid people out of the market.

We have many retired professionals who can offer volunteer guidance on how to spot situations where the kupuna is being defrauded. Retirees are valuable resources that need to be tapped. Or, we can have a nanny state. Except that most states are already bankrupt and can't meet fiscal and pension obligations to existing employees. So we end up with unfunded regulations that cannot be enforced. And we pinheads will continue to multiply.


dana said...

I think our American modern culture has lost the concept of respect and caring for our elders. I just do not understand this. It saddens me.
Also re: your note on my's 2K total. The HOA is 650 per year. The deadbeat never paid. The bank forgiving his loan refuses to pay it so it falls to of the many short sale gimmees...Dana


I think that we, as a society, have been conditioned to expect our government to take care of things, thus, relieving us of individual responsibility... and guilt.

Problem we're facing is that the government doesn't have the money to take care of the things they've promised. So, I bring forth questions but I think we're accustomed to sticking our heads in the sand expecting the government to fix things.

Thanks for your thoughts.