Over a year ago, my family discovered my dad has dementia. I can’t describe how horrible and heart wrenching it is to find out that someone you love is slowing slipping away and you can’t do a thing about it. It breaks my family’s heart every day.
One of the hardest things to deal with during this time was my dad’s odd behavior. He started getting nervous about things – and instead of hiding his worst fears, he shared them with us for the first time.
So when we noticed that my dad had started to sleep during the day and staying up at night, we knew something was eating him up inside. When I asked him about it – he told me he stayed up night after night because he was scared the health insurance companies would come through the door and take away the house he had worked so hard for. My dad is going to the doctor almost daily. His medication is extremely expensive and for the first time in his life, he is feeling the pain of landing in the Donut Hole. His social security checks and retirement, my mom’s small-income, and even the support of his children still means my parents are living paycheck to paycheck.
At the time of our conversation, I was at the height of the health care fight. Every day I read stories about how insurance company practices left people like my parents to make difficult choices between putting food on the table and paying their electric bills. I understood his anxiety. And it was horrible not be able to say anything to him, during his most vulnerable time, to quell this fear because I knew the system was broken.
In the past year, things have improved greatly for my dad and our family. He dotes over his grandson and whenever I visit – he always seems to be in great spirits. But things are still difficult. My dad forgets where our house is and whether he’s had a meal. And slowly I’m coming to accept one day my dad will forget me.
Thanks to the health care law, people who fall in the Donut Hole like my father receive a 50% discount on their covered brand-name drugs and also a 7% discount on generic drugs that fall in the same gap. By 2020, the Donut Hole will be closed completely. I’m glad that today, when my dad worries about insurance companies taking away our home, at least I’ll be able to say – things are getting better.