Nursing home care has become a national issue

About 1.5 million American seniors now live in nursing homes.

Seventy percent of them rely on Medicaid to pay the bill, which means they are low-income or have otherwise spent down their assets.

My mother spent the last few months of her life in a nursing home. My first wife died in a nursing home. My wife’s mother spent a lot of time in nursing homes.

Today, I have elderly friends in nursing homes whom I occasionally go to see. It’s the same old story.

I continue to see a multitude of lonely, forgotten people who have been warehoused in facilities until they breathe their last breaths.

Placing my wife in a nursing home was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. She was in the final stages of multiple sclerosis and needed 24-hour care, which I couldn’t physically give. However, looking back emotionally and even physically I don’t think I would have been as drained if I had just kept her at home and tried to have cared for her.

Nursing homes are exhausting. You think at the time it’s the only answer, but then you are there numerous hours every day trying to make sure your loved one is not being neglected.

In today’s nursing homes the chances are great they will be neglected because the average nursing home cannot keep enough staff to take care of everyone.

One worker told me once she was in charge of taking care of 60 patients every night. She said that oftentimes there would be people she never saw on her shift.

Nursing home care cost is astronomical. Just a bed, three meals a day and an occasional bath will cost around $7,500 a month. My mother-in-law needed rehabilitation.

Three years ago, her cost was more than $15,000 a month for four months.

Nursing homes are not a relief emotionally or physically, and financially they will break you.

Most Americans end up paying for their nursing home care via Medicaid. Going on Medicaid is no picnic as it means, in reality, you no longer have any means to pay for your care.

There are some good nursing homes out there and many, many hardworking, caring nurses. There are some really bad ones out there, too, and they are all extremely expensive.

All the time we hear about Americans being medically insured. What about long-term-care insurance for aging Americans?

Our nation is getting older. The baby boomers are a large chunk of our population — 75 million.

Baby boomers are going to face bankruptcies and mega financial challenges, as is this nation with the long-term care of our generation.

Our politicians must come up with a long-term-care plan that does not require the financial ruin of millions of Americans.

I know long-term-care insurance is available if you are not sick and can afford it.

However, it would be for real medical care in the nursing home with real rehabilitation if it is needed; and not just for a bed and three meals a day and an occasional bath.

Plus, it would spare the elders in this nation from having to file bankruptcy and go into poverty to have a shelter over their heads the last few months or even years of their lives.

Please add this issue to the national discussion.