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Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures


One struggling couple in Florida, who are waitlisted for Medicaid, are trying to move to a reasonably priced apartment in Minnesota, where there is better help available. This is a GoFundMe situation. Code Red.

My friend Lauren lives in Florida and I live in North Dakota.

While there are many miles between us, we’ve managed to find connections despite the obvious clash of social mores you’d expect between a southern gal and a prairie girl.

We’re both blonde. We both like reading and writing.

We’re both caring for a loved one with dementia.

Many people find that caregiving is their true calling, and I’d consider Lauren to be one of these people. For 10 years now, she has cared for her husband, Chris, who has had early-onset Alzheimer’s since he was 54. He is now 64.

Lauren quit graduate school to take care of Chris when he became unable to manage finances anymore (he was a CPA), and the couple went bankrupt. Since then, they’ve moved from Texas, where they were nearly homeless, to Florida, where they now live together in a tiny one-bedroom apartment completely unsuitable for a family enduring Alzheimer’s.

Lauren and her husband, Chris, in 2005. Lauren and her husband, Chris, at a wedding in 2005.

Chris is nearing the end stages of his disease, and it amazes me that Lauren manages to somehow keep it together when he misses the toilet or talks to the television set.

They are apart only because this disease has caused them to lose it all. But they are everything to each other, still, even when they have nothing.

Lauren is trying the make a better life for herself someplace where she can experience four seasons and a healthier economic landscape. More importantly, she’s looking for somewhere with adequate Medicaid coverage for a man who should be enjoying retirement, but is instead living in his own distorted reality.

Things are getting desperate as Chris continues to go downhill. Every time I private-message Lauren on Facebook, something else has happened:

“Chris forgot how to step up the stairs.”

“Chris couldn’t sit down in his chair at dinner.”

“Chris told me I was beautiful.”

“I don’t know how we’re going to afford next month.”

“We need to get out of here.”

Please help Chris and Lauren with travel expenses, getting settled in Moorhead, MN, and some warm clothes. Even $20 could make a big difference. Visit their GoFundMe site here.Our kind—the young caregivers who are forced to take matters into our own hands—we’re strong. Resilient even. But we’re not made of money.

Lauren has raised $701 on her own in four months using, a private crowdfunding site that helps people get funding for anything from a trip to Bali to expenses for a shoulder surgery.

I calculated for her how much two airline tickets to Minnesota would cost: around $700 on the cheapest dates available. From there, Lauren said she would go so far as to “join the homeless community, try to get Chris placed in a good facility, and then just see where I land.”

It’s a slap in the face that someone can get this disease so young—or at all. It’s downright inhumane that the couple cannot receive the funding or state support they need to secure a better system of care for Chris in a place that is equipped to do so.

I hope that by sharing Lauren’s story, we’ll have better elder care infrastructure before the onslaught of Baby Boomers begin to show symptoms of dementia.

For now, it’s a problem we must solve among those who know: the families, caregivers and supporters of those who understand the reality of a disease with no treatment, no cure, no end in sight.


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