Man With Developmental Disability Needs Caregiver; Mom is Told to Get Diapers Instead

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on November 6, 2020 in Personal Injury
Updated on April 24, 2024

man pushing wheelchair into a vanDrew Bolender is a 41-year-old male in Arizona with developmental disabilities. Born with hydrocephalus and brain damage, he has already surpassed the typical life expectancy for someone with his condition. Although he enjoys some normal hobbies, including video games, listening to the band Green Day and weightlifting, his physical limitations are severe.

The seizures Drew routinely suffers as a result of his condition have caused further damage to his brain, making full-time care and supervision necessary. To make matters worse, Drew underwent spinal surgery in 2017. Now, according to BJ, Drew’s mother, his pain level is often severe and nearly constant, causing him to wake multiple times each night to go to the bathroom. Although Drew can use the facility on his own, he needs help to physically get there.

To help him get the additional overnight care, BJ reached out to Arizona’s Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). According to the article in ProPublica, when a manager finally returned her call, it was to suggest that she save the state the additional costs and put him in adult diapers instead. Drew’s mother was outraged by the suggestion and the call ended with the manager saying he would not be authorizing Drew’s full-time care services to continue past mid-August.

Arizona DDD’s Bureaucratic Procedures

In June, the Bolender family received more bad news. Drew was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and although BJ called the DDD as soon as she found out, she did not hear back from the agency for weeks.

After finally being able to schedule a video call for August 12 to further discuss the services Drew currently receives, the DDD manager and support coordinator were a no-show. The meeting was rescheduled for September 18, and this time, although the support coordinator was present, the manager was again a no-show.

As of mid-October, Drew’s mother said she was finally able to obtain approval for Drew’s services to continue, but only through December. Arizona’s DDD has called for yet another assessment, and she has no certainty about what care will be approved beyond that point. Some of Drew’s doctors and social workers are pushing her to consider putting Drew in a nursing home.

BJ responds, “If you had a family member and 75 percent of the time their pain was managed, they had normal conversations, enjoyed their outings and enjoyed their TV shows, would you put that person in a nursing home?”

What does Drew want? He says he wants to “stay alive as long as possible.”

Are Arizona’s DDD Services Showing Signs of Stress?

The Bolender’s are not alone in their frustration with Arizona’s DDD system. According to another recent article in ProPublica, those with developmental disabilities often face multiple delays. The calls of many family members trying to contact the agency seeking help are going unanswered. Those in need of assistance and services frequently become exhausted in their attempts.

The DDD contradicts this article’s findings, stating that most clients who call for help are satisfied with the care they receive.

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