Recently, I wrote an article on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room about age discrimination, mentioning that working at the Memory Clinic at the VA hospital was the saddest part of my week. I was unprepared for the comments that appeared when Fundacion Alzheimer Aruba posted a link to my article on Facebook. Within minutes, there were 36 comments. Unfortunately, they were not in English. I decided to message Fundacion Alzheimer Aruba and request a translation, if possible. The translation I received, from Dr. Melva Croes, president of their organization, was shocking. She provided an “exposé” on the state of health care in Aruba and how severely it is affecting Alzheimer’s patients and their families.
Here is some of the information that Dr. Melva Croes provided:
“Here in Aruba the National Health Insurance has decided now since 3 years ago that the elderly older than 70 years will not receive all adequate services they deserve (e.g. thorough diagnosis and cognitive assessment) ‘because of their age’! You would have noticed that your wonderful article caused a great consternation in Aruba and our friends on the Facebook (FB), and I am pretty sure the days to come! The messages and comments are all indicative that the Aruba Government and the National Health Insurance, (where every Aruban citizen is insured), is committing a discriminatory act against the elderly and the person with possible neuro-cognitive dysfunctions and/or neuro-degenerative conditions.”
“There was a comment on FB that nothing can be done but wait on the law (as in the Netherlands) for euthanasia and even mentioned Adolf H. Others will come forward with their experience of their caretakers in the elderly homes where several elderly were fixated (mentally with drugs, and/or physically in a chair/bed and without any daycare program in this home). Regarding the medication: the elderly with Alzheimer’s receive medications, which are not being properly (on a regular base) monitored, even in the case of contra-indications (secondary effects) these have on the elderly.”
“Max, it’s a shame for me to tell the world, that the government of Aruba is not treating their elderly and the person with Alzheimer’s or MCI right, whilst the government will continuously boast to the world that Aruba is ‘One Big Happy Island’ (happy for who?) and one of the most visited islands in the Caribbean.”
The Inspection of Health is not functioning properly (if not at all). The caregivers and patients with AD are afraid to stand up for their rights, since they are afraid for the consequences, repercussions these comments might have for their families and or caregivers.”
It took a while for that information to sink in! People who worked and paid into their system in ARUBA are not receiving an adequate health insurance after the age of 70! It appears that the island of Aruba, one of the most prosperous islands in the Caribbean, seen around the world as a paradise, has decided that 70 is old enough!
~This post is an opinion post sent to BU Culture Shock by Max Wallack concerning the controversy surrounding Aruba’s elderly care system. If you would like to contribute a post to BU Culture Shock, please send a post to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading “guest post”.~