SERIES: Healthcare in America #19, Alessandra Biaggi, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Alessandra Biaggi, October 22, 2018

I was fortunate enough to have grandparents who lived until their late eighties and nineties. But watching my grandparents age was both wonderful and difficult because, depending upon their socioeconomic status, their experience of aging was completely different. Differences in their economic status affected the care they were able to access and by extension, their quality of life.

My grandfather had 24-hour care in his home and he lived until the age of 97. However, my grandmothers both went to nursing homes where they weren’t being fed. That may sound crazy, but it’s true. Although the nursing homes put food in front of them, both of my grandmothers had suffered strokes and were unable to use their hands. And so it was only after several weeks that we were able to determine that they were quite literally starving. Luckily, my parents noticed that my grandmothers were losing a lot of weight and were able to move them out of nursing homes in upstate New York near Hyde Park and into nearby Bronx nursing homes, where being close to our family and receiving higher quality care allowed them to live much higher quality lives.

But my family’s experience just shows you that if you are able to be at home or to afford good care, you actually can extend the length and quality of your life....

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