WE ARE the lucky ones. Not only are we blessed with two mothers in their 90s — we are doubly blessed with mothers whose resources cover their care. That's not the norm in America, where the aging population's need for long-term care imposes harsh economic as well as emotional stress on many families. A provision of the health-care bill aims to offer some relief to those families, and we're all for it.
The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, called CLASS, was one of Teddy Kennedy's pet proposals in recent years. It's a simple idea. Workers would voluntarily pay into a fund for at least five years and then be able to draw from it if they become disabled by age or illness.
A daily stipend tied to the degree of disability, to be set by the secretary of Health and Human Services but probably starting at about $75, would go for whatever was needed — someone helping out at home, transportation to senior day care, installation of handicap-friendly devices — allowing many individuals to remain in their communities and out of costly nursing homes.
For people who aren't as lucky as we are, that's often the only choice. Their parents or a disabled relative might need assistance in eating, bathing, dressing or moving from a chair to the bathroom. A small stipend can make all the difference. It can mean an elderly person gets to stay at home with some assistance getting dressed and ……