You and I We’re the Same

I recently finished reading the Book Evicted by Matthew Desmond.  It was a difficult but valuable read for a few reasons.  Difficult because the author so clearly described the living conditions of people in poverty in Milwaukee.  He also described how easily people can spiral down when living in these conditions.

It was also difficult to read for me because I feel like I have met these people in the book and been in their houses.  I have seen the struggles first hand and was reminded how real they are.  I mean, we all like to see ourselves AS good people and help others when we can, but it will take a lot more than what we are currently doing to change this.  Which is the essence of my purpose in sharing this blog.

I hate it that Milwaukee is the setting for this book.  I know the streets and landmarks described.  This book really brings the issue of poverty literally to my backyard.  I hate it that poor health is so inextricably linked to poverty.  And access to health care is something that is being toyed with by politicians.

I also was provoked by the behavior of those profiting from poor people, a form of exploitation of a vulnerable population.  But maybe even more so, it is the way we treat each other, the struggle to have power over one another and the way the power is used so harshly.  This is a big reason why this issue is so hard to impact.  It is the dark side of human behavior.  As one book review observes, “what if the problem with poverty is that it is profitable?”.

I love it that a book like this with such poignant social commentary is a best seller.  This makes it valuable because it is a part of the conversation now.  I must admit I am a little surprised though that it is being viewed as a scholarly work, and would expect, based on my reading of it, that it would be sparking more outrage and activism.

The book is also valuable in the way it captures the complexity of poverty. While in part, it is simple.  Like in any exchange, there are winners and losers.  But all of the power in the relationship belongs to the landlord.  But through the author’s real life betrayal of  individuals, it was also noted how the landlord can also give people a break, like the landlord who brought over groceries to her tenant when they moved in.

Overall, the best way I can summarize the book in one work is sad.  And not like the sad. in Donald Trump’s tweets.  Sad like so many people are suffering.  But as long as there are profits to be made, it won’t stop.

Throughout my career as a Social Worker working with low income people in Milwaukee, I have been struck with the realization, over and over, that many of these people are not that different from me.

Thank you Matthew Desmond for writing this book and bringing the problem out into the open.  And thank you Scott and Seth Avett for this song that captures the solution.


4 Reasons Why Everyone Needs to Understand Entitlement Programs-Social Security and Medicare

Paul Ryan

My daughter in high school recently discussed Social Security in a public policy class. I’m happy to say she was able to raise her hand and contribute to the discussion.  She knew that health care for older adults is tied to Social Security.  We should all be familiar with Social Security and Medicare and at least the basics of how they work.   I know some very smart people who don’t.  They are considered “entitlements” because people are categorically eligible based on age in the case of Social Security and Medicare.

Here are 4 reasons why we need to understand Social Security and Medicare:

1. These benefits are currently in jeopardy for political reasons, specifically, Speaker Ryan would like to cut entitlements to pay for the massive corporate tax cuts.

2. If you have worked on the US, you are likely eligible for Medicare when you turn 65. It will likely be your primary payer source for health care, although Medicare does not pay for long term care. Medicare also does not pay 100% of costs.  Almost ALL employers do NOT provide health care as a retirement benefit.

3. If you or a spouse or parent needs long term care and don’t have insurance for it, long term car costs roughly 100,000 a year for no and 50k a year for home care. If you can’t afford this or run out of assets, you will need to rely on Medicaid.

4. Changes to Medicare and Social Security could have devastating impact on older people in the U.S., which is all of us eventually.

Please help me to fight changes to our entitlement programs for older adults and people with disabilities.  Understanding the basics is a first step.



Who is paying for the Corporate Tax Cuts?

WINovHouseBill-3#whostakingcareoftheoldpeople #savemedicaid

Here is the source of the above data with additional details from the current House Tax Bill, state by state.

The title is a simple question to which I am having a difficult time getting the clear answer.  I am no tax expert and like most of us don’t have all day to pour over details if the minute to minute changes.  We need to pay close attention to our news sources as the bill moves through committees this week.  There are plans to pass it before Thanksgiving.

There has been ongoing concern regarding the Medicaid cuts coming back as a way to offset the cost of corporate tax cuts.  Please stand with me and remain vigilant to prevent this from happening as these massive changes to our economy are being rushed through.

It appears the plan eliminates deductions for medical expenses, which would be a blow to older adults with high out of pocket expenses as well as families supporting people with disabilities.

If the measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable, we really don’t need this tax cut if it means reducing already inadequateresources allocated to frail elders and people with disabilities.

There is also a potential threat to the individual mandate of the ACA.  Let’s keep a watchful eye on that too.

Please feel free to chime in with more helpful information.

November 1st started Open Enrollment for ACA plans on the Marketplace.  Here is a health-care-open-enrollment link to more information:




Puerto Rico

Many years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Puerto Rico.  Many people pass briefly through on the way to other Caribbean destinations.  We talked with people with ties to Puerto Rico and decided to see more of the island by staying for two weeks and renting a car, staying in some of the smaller towns.  Here are a few of my photos, while dated, show the beauty we found along the way.






I share this because I can validate the descriptions of the island as a special place with extreme physical beauty and proud and welcoming people. The people of Puerto Ricans have suffered due to Hurricane Maria and the lack of support from the federal government. It is a different response than was given to other US disasters.

A co-worker of mine tells me her family, including her 98 year old father, get by day to day with food and water not a sure thing, and they are not in a remote location. I don’t believe her story is unusual.

Take a look at this interesting story of Jason Maddy, who with a group of US veterans that call themselves “Grunt Rescue” took it upon themselves to go to Puerto Rico and help those in the isolated towns to get the assistance they need.  You can look him up on Facebook, it seems to be legitimate. There are multiple posts from concerned family members who can’t get to family in remote areas of the island.


Adult Daycare

Unfortunately, it’s taking a twitter war to bring this important service into the mainstream.

Adult daycare provides supervision and care to adults in need of support during the day so they can return home at night and avoid institutionalization.  It’s a great way to support caregivers and maintain people in their communities.

Some adult day programs are for adults with disabilities, and some are specifically designed for older adults with Alzheimer’s.

Like child daycare, it’s not cheap but dramatically less than nursing home care.  The cost is included in publicly funded long term care programs for people eligible for Medicaid.

PACE is a model of care that provides adult day care in conjunction with primary care for frail older adults.  Here is a link for more information about the PACE model: 

Coming Together to End Alzheimer’s 


Today was the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  It is so incredible to see the group of thousands coming together to show support for the many people impacted by this disease. We had a beautiful day for it.  It was more than a fundraiser or a walk.  As the Mayor said, it was the city’s largest support group ever!

I was honored to walk alongside our CountyDementia Care Specialists, both who are caregivers themselves. They work tirelessly to help caregivers, with a special focus on African American and Hispanic caregivers.

I’ve participated in many events for great causes, but this one is one of the most worthy of support.  Consider supporting this important organization.  For more information, click here.

Person Centered Care

Person Centered Care, it seems like a no-brainer, right?  Treat people like individuals.  Let people make decisions for themselves, in the drivers seat.  Well, I have seen many times when this is not the case. Efficiency, rules and protocols take precedence. Provider centered care is common.

The concepts behind Person Centered Care apply in every care setting.  Several times over my career and in different settings I have participated in initiatives promoting institutional culture change, from task oriented, hierarchical rules to treating people as individuals.  This is good and helps.  But we still have a ways to go.

Here are a few ways to use person centered care.

  • Checking assumptions
  • Choosing language and vocabulary carefully
  • Leveling the hierarchy within the organization
  • Changing expectations and beliefs about people
  • Adjusting attitudes
  • Building support networks to wrap around those in care

Here is a link to a document that will guide to person centered care if you or a family member is in need of care.