November 5, 2019
Rose is a powerhouse of inspiration. She is the caregiver of a loved one who lives with depression. She has discovered first-hand how difficult it can be to navigate the mental healthcare system to access services, especially for an older person on Medicare. Rose is passionate about healthcare reform and changing the system to help patients get the care they need. She is also committed to helping other families who are going through similar situations with health insurance and finding care.
Caring for a Family Member
Rose theorizes that her family member’s experience with family issues that were never addressed, the death of a loved one, and empty-nest syndrome resulted in a deep depression. Prior to that, her loved one was vibrant, outgoing, social, and fun-loving. The change has been devastating to Rose and her family, and they are coping as best as they can, living day to day.
Her loved one spends a lot of time in bed sleeping and is isolated from the world. The ongoing ordeal has led them to numerous doctors, counselors, and tests. After two MRIs and a psychiatric evaluation, doctors ruled out other health issues and determined that the source of her symptoms stemmed from difficulty processing emotions. Rose herself has had to make more than 100 phone calls to schedule appointments, explore treatment options, and secure non-traditional therapies. Even though they live in an area with a lot of resources, many of the physicians in her area do not accept Medicare or they have long waiting lists, so their options are limited. For example, now they are only able to see a nurse practitioner instead of seeing a psychiatrist specializing in trauma. Access to care is a real issue for them and, as she puts it, it has been “hell.”
Additionally, they have seen ten therapists/psychologists, two neurologists, two naturopathic doctors, and two psychiatrists. Each one has given them a different diagnosis and treatment plan. This inconsistency is discouraging and confusing—not to mention expensive. At times, they have felt rudderless. Throughout the process, however, they have met a couple of kind “angels” in clinics who have given them reason to hope.
Thankfully, Rose’s professional life affords her the time and financial means to focus on her loved one. She has done a lot of online research about depression and, although it took more than a year to figure it all out, she is confident they are on the right track. What these experiences have shown her is that the system is very broken and something needs to change.
Rose wonders how other people who do not have the knowhow, financial resources, or ability to research such concerns ever get access to care, let alone how people struggling with depression, who can barely get out of bed, manage the added responsibility of navigating treatment? She explains that it has been incredibly stressful but also eye-opening.
Through her own radio program, Rose provides information to other families and advocates for political and systematic changes to our healthcare system. Rose plans to do interviews, public speaking, writing, and more to make sure that this issue is brought to the forefront and other families can see a loved one heal.