You Be the Judge

The great thing about being a solo host: being the voice of the show. The bad thing about being a solo host: being the voice of the show when your voice sounds like hell. ... Which is my way of saying: I KNOW my voice sounds lousy today, but what can I do? This is only the second time in my career I have been close to losing my voice. So, yes I've been working the lemon tea, Cold-EEZE, Ricola, cough syrup ... I have been working it all.

You be the judge of whether I should have called Lynn Neary's cell phone this morning to ask her to fill-in.


...But I didn't want to miss anything! Like the chance to speak with Robert Thurman. He was the first American to be ordained as a Buddhist monk. He's no longer a monk, but he is one of this country's foremost authorities on Buddhism. We were also happy to speak with Aung Din, a former political prisoner in Burma/Myanmar. We wanted to talk about why the monks are so prominent in this pro-democracy fight.

Then, on to Justice Clarence Thomas. I was a White House Correspondent covering the George H.W. Bush administration — Bush 41, as it were. I was at home at 10:00 one Sunday morning when a WH contact called to "give me a heads up" that something was afoot with Thomas' nomination.

And you know the rest. Or, maybe you don't. One of the interesting things about stories like this is how quickly the facts, as we understand them, fade from memory. Thomas' new memoir, My Grandfather's Son, it has to be said, comes like a bolt out of the blue. Why now? It seems like ripping a scab off an old wound. Plus, Thomas has a reputation for being very concerned about protecting his privacy, very hostile to the media. That's why we were so interested to hear what Thomas' friend, Armstrong Williams, has to say about this book and his Thomas' interpretation of the events that brought him where he is today.

I have to say, as a person who covered the Hill-Thomas hearings, that it is a fascinating read, especially his accounting of his early life. We also invited author Kevin Merida to the table. His biography of Thomas, co-written with fellow Washington Post staff writer Michael Fletcher, adds some interesting context. Merida writes about things that Thomas does not. I hope you're intrigued. We're going to continue to follow this story, if we can add value ...

And, finally, more on Eldercare. Hear more practical advice from our experts. One of our guests, Dr. Marion Somers, mentioned that she's a geriatric care manager. We thought you might like to know more about what that is. Here's an excerpt from Dr. Somers' book:

Hiring a Geriatric Care Manager.

If you're a long-distance caregiver, you may wish to hire a geriatric care manager to do a weekly follow-up ... Each geriatric care manager has unique strengths and a special knowledge base, so someone you hire might have additional training, education, and experience. Below is a list of services that can be provided by most geriatric care managers.

1. In-home assessment
2. Institutional or hospital assessment
3. Hospital visit in case of emergency
4. Recommendation and implementation of adapted equipment
5. Organize financial information
6. Organize insurance information
7. Make the home elder safe
8. Arrange meal service
9. Hire cleaners, handyperson, assistants.
10. Streamline all medications
11. Improve appearance
12. Bring entertainment into the home
13. Serve as the communication hub for the family
14. Understand government entitlements and services that are available
15. Arrange travel to family events, social gatherings
16. Interview and hire aides and other home-care personnel or medical specialists
17. Monitor an elder on an ongoing basis
18. Recommend and arrange a higher level of care as required
19. Crisis intervention
20. Improve quality of life

Tomorrow, a major treat. Hint: major diva ... one of her names means brown in Spanish.



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In an earlier posting you mentioned that your last on-air discussion of eldercare was unsatisfying in some sense as there was more to discuss. I thought it interesting as anyone who has been a caregiver would know that this often parallels their experience: more often than not new caregiving issues arise that need evaluation of the new or slightly altered situation along with the available resources followed by a change occurring -- hopefully a beneficial change. So a caregiver might stop in on Mom every afternoon, but at a certain point if Mom needs more help then the caregiver must look to others if he or she can???t fill all the care needs. This sounds simple in theory, but can be unmanageable in practice as variables such as work, money, children, siblings and other life issues also need to be kept in balance.
Also I think what a geriatric care manager (GCM) does -- or that one even exists -- is news to people. I have run across so many people who were floored once I explained what a GCM could do to alleviate some of their stress or just give them guidance. (I work for Gilbert Guide, a company that evaluates long-term care services and facilities so my job is tied in with eldercare issues.) Many Americans today are becoming caregivers. Their training for this is minimal or nonexistent; oftentimes decisions are made with good intentions and not enough information. I am fairly certain this will change due to the aging boomer population, but right here and right now so many people suffer just because discussions on eldercare aren't happening often enough.

Sent by Lara Belonogoff | 3:01 PM | 10-3-2007

Lara --

Thanks. This was our sense also. My personal opinion is that we have not come to grips with the reality of all the changes that have come to our society in recent decades: both parents working, families having kids later and taking care of young kids -- and older parents -- at the same time, families living far apart, work hours increasing.

I think it's all crashing down and there IS not alot of information out there. Please, let us know what we don't know. Send us any information you have ... or want to know.

Sent by Michel Martin, host | 9:33 AM | 10-4-2007

Michel! I so absolutely LOVED your interview with Rita Moreno - I'm old enough to remember her on "The Electric Company," and even saw her on an anniversary special for that show - your questions were great, she's such a gracious woman with a great sense of humor - thanks again and again for having her on your show. Can I just gush some more?

Sent by Sarah Pressly-James | 1:38 PM | 10-4-2007

Thanks, Michel, for your response. I think you are absolutely correct that the face of eldercare is changing and few seem to notice it in any real productive way. Family caregivers with young children know about it, but they are usually busy just trying to stay afloat in a world filled with responsibilities.
One of the biggest issues out there in my opinion is who pays for eldercare? Long-term care insurance is a great example of something too few people know about. Does a person need it? Well, many of us think that Medicare will pay for all our health care costs when we age. This is wrong. And like most things in this world???you get what you pay for. Many Americans are unaware of what their healthcare costs might entail later in life and how to go about trying to cover them. Often it is a ???trigger event??? such as an elder having a fall or needing to be hospitalized when suddenly a family begins to look at their resources and see what care they can afford.
The question then becomes who is responsible for stating the facts of what eldercare means in today???s world, such as who pays for what? And what can we expect in the future? Is it our government???s job? And if the government doesn???t do it then should private businesses step in to fill in the gaps in information? (I work for a private company that does educate the public about eldercare???from how to find the right facility or service to how to go about saving for retirement to coping strategies for caregivers. In fact Gilbert Guide was founded with the idea that there was no eldercare information out there *and* people really needed it.) Today we find ourselves in a place where a few progressive companies try to educate employees, because these companies realize that absenteeism can be curbed if employees have resources to aid them in elder or child care???and that happy employees are more productive and are more likely stay in the job. But these companies aren???t the norm???and not all companies can afford such large-scale programs. I think this will change drastically in the next ten years at least in big business, because large companies will realize how much working time is spent taking elderly parents to doctor???s visits or covering a shift that a caregiver couldn???t make. But again this won???t cover everyone and education is just part of the tool set; resources are also needed.

Sent by Lara Belonogoff | 8:31 PM | 10-15-2007