Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hard for ageing siblings to care for mum

Mar 31, 2012

MY MOTHER is 90 years old and has been ill since April 1993. She suffers from severe osteoporosis, dementia, Alzheimer's disease and, lately, severe bleeding from stomach ulcers.

For 15 years, my siblings and I have been paying her medical bills, which add up to a significant sum. My mother has no income, no inheritance and no insurance. All she has are her six children, who give her an allowance every month to ensure that she leads a meaningful life without being placed in a home.

Our repeated efforts to seek government assistance have failed. For instance, our application for assistance for an expensive bone-growth drug called Forteo in April 2007 was turned down.

At the end of the following year, we sought assistance to pay her hospital charges. This was rejected as well.

Nonetheless, I have the highest praise for Changi General Hospital's doctors, nurses, and pharmaceutical and administrative staff, from the top officer to the lowest-level staff.

In our most recent application for Medifund last month, I again highlighted that my siblings and I are now retired and find it increasingly difficult to maintain our mother's medical and daily expenses. My monthly annuity payment of $400 goes entirely to my mother. My sister's contribution is just as stiff.

While I am pleased that the authorities are considering our application for financial aid somewhat differently this time, I am still left wondering why they have chosen to reject some form of assistance for recent expenses.

Although we are deeply grateful that they are now considering some future subsidy, we wonder if help could have been rendered earlier when we sought, and needed, it.

Patrick Low

[This is not going to be the usual rant. In fact, it's not a rant but support for the writer and I think more can be done.

For a start, I think the govt should extend free or highly subsidised basic healthcare to citizens born before 1930. There are not many of them, and all would have contributed to nation building in some way or the other. These people would be 82 years old today and if they are still alive, would not have much CPF at retirement, if at all. (They would have reached 55 yrs of age in 1985 or earlier, and would not have had enough time to build up any kind of CPF.)

But the healthcare should be basic and not too expensive. an expensive bone-growth drug like Forteo should not be covered. In 2007, the patient would have been 85 years old, with multiple illnesses since 1993. how much improvement in her quality of life would Forteo have provided? With that consideration, Forteo should be an elective treatment.

Palliative care in SG is still not very good. A person with that much suffering should be provided good pain control which may include opiates (like vicodin).

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