October 5, 2011


Sometimes I wonder “Is it me or has the world gone crazy?” At such moments I take comfort from the great works of literature that have asked the same question. David Wright asked it in his play, “Marat/Sade”  (blog post 8/3/2011).  Ken Kesey asked it in “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”  And John Webster in the “Duchess of Malfi” asked it as far back as the 17th century. Last week, I asked it again after I attended the state’s medical assessment of my 95 year-old-mother — a woman who is a little forgetful and legally blind. 

I went because I wanted to meet mom’s new caseworker and social worker. The caseworker had brought papers for my mother to sign. Mom couldn’t read them so I read them for her. Unfortunately, I had questions. For example, why did the form end with a disclaimer that the medical conditions listed in the document might be inaccurate? The caseworker replied “It’s complicated.” 

Not satisfied, I persisted. I wanted to know if signing the document meant I was confirming that the list was accurate or inaccurate. The caseworker didn’t know.

That’s when the social worker stepped in. In diplomatic terms she explained that what the papers said didn’t matter.  My mother received her health insurance through an organization that operated independently of the state and county.  The state and county papers were irrelevant but she advised me to sign them anyway.

Her remark caused me to ask if an earlier evaluation of my mother done by her residential facility was relevant or irrelevant. The social worker didn’t know. But she advised me to sign those papers, too.

In sum, at least once a year, my mother who can’t see well enough to read is required to sign evaluation forms from the state, the county, from her insurance carrier and from the facility where she resides. These forms may or may not be accurate and they may or not be relevant.    

I came home from the consultation with my head spinning. Ken Kesey got it right. It’s the keepers who need to be kept.