Charles: an Elder Interview About the Aging Process and Health Care

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After spending an afternoon interviewing my elderly father-in-law, I gained insight into how he perceives the aging process and the impact on the quality of his life. First, and foremost he viewed aging in a very positive and healthy manner. He believes that a positive attitude assists in accepting physical and psychosocial changes and enjoyed the fact that he and his wife are both physically fit and cognitively alert. He felt confident that advances made in health care and the quality of their lives would continue to be empowering. He enjoys the benefits of being a senior citizen including discounted travel, free education, and other incentives marketed towards seniors. He expressed a sense of well-being with respect to the numerous housing options geared towards the graying population, such as Retirement Villages, and assisted living. However, the subjects of Long Term Care, Social security reform and government involvement in health care reform were subjects he regarded with very strong negative emotions. During the interview these issues as related to his experiences with health care were discussed with zeal and frustration. Charles is my father-in-law of 14 years; he is seventy-seven years young and lives in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts with his wife of 52 years. They live independently in a sprawling 4,500 foot custom built cape style home. Charles was the oldest of three siblings and was raised in a farming town by his father who was a disabled war veteran in poor health and a feisty Italian mother. Charles had the opportunity to complete high school and receive the gift of learning to work with his hands as a master finish carpenter. He worked on many farms as a young boy during the summers of high school to help support his family; he is no stranger to working very hard. When he graduated from high school he was swept under the wing of a master carpenter in his home- town and learned the master art of building homes and finish carpentry. He married his lovely bride of 52 years when he was 22 years old and shortly there-after had a son and ten years later had another son. His young married years were riddled with worry about finances and making ends meet, specifically related to the affordability of health insurance. He was forced to purchase health insurance because his newborn was repeatedly getting pneumonia, the worries surmounted. With trepidation Charles used all the money he received as a wedding gift, totaling $1500.00 and bought a piece of land. He was able to finance $10,000 to build a home for his young family. His mortgage was $65.00 a month and his BCBS health insurance monthly fee was $700, this was in 1958. When Charles turned 50 years old he decided to upgrade his home to a better neighborhood and built a custom 4,500 square foot home. As soon as Charles’ two boys finished high school they worked together as Garfield Construction for many years until Charles retired at 70 years old. Charles is very happy as an enrolled participant of Medicare and specifically Medicare Part D. His eligibility for Medicare and the affordability of health insurance at the spry age of 74 was a blessing for Charles and his wife. Like Charles and his wife, many of the elderly depend on payments from government sources for their health care, and there is concern that this part of the system is also in decay. Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people 65 and older and for certain disabled people and was enacted in 1965 as part of Title 18 of the Social Security Act. It is operated by the Health Care Financing Administration, a federal agency, and local Social Security Administration offices across the country take applications for Medicare and provide basic eligibility information to applicants. However, it is known that most Social Security offices in truth know little about Medicare coverage because all they really do is take applications for it. Medicare comes in two parts. Part A is also known as...
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