Seniors care - the issue of our time, May 2016
Look, no demographic age group is more valuable to society than any other but there is one demographic age group that has disproportional need for urgent attention to their needs; seniors. Canada’s health care system is in need of a major overhaul for everyone’s benefit but particularly when it comes to care for seniors. Don’t take my word for it! It was Dr. Chris Thompson, president of the Canadian Medical Association who said it in his inaugural speech of late 2014.
Dr. Thompson cited a recent Commonwealth Fund report that ranked Canada next to last (ahead only of the US) to the quality of health care. He believes the key to improving the system, is improving the way we care for seniors.
He shared that almost half of Canada’s health care dollars are spent on those aged 65 and over and he is especially concerned that many seniors are being unnecessarily placed in hospital beds because there is simply a lack of other appropriate options for them, AKA the needed resolve by government to get to the work of developing healthcare alternatives is nowhere in sight! While awkward for me to put gently, the warehousing of seniors in hospital beds is costing taxpayers billions a year. The cost of one day in a hospital bed requires close to $1,000 in funding compared to just about $130 per day for a long-term care bed or $55 per day for well-structured, effective home care services. Dr. Simpson was quoted as saying “We believe it is time all levels of government do the math and spend smarter.”
Think about it, you are an 82 year old, relatively healthy senior struggling to care for a chronically ill partner of say 84, and at home. Couldn’t you use all of the help that you could get in that situation instead of hospitalization?
Currently, 15 per cent of Canadians are 65 and over. Over the next 20 years, that number is expected to more than double. Our Prime Minister needs to stop with the travelling road show around the world and lead the federal government in the real work of getting down to the business of developing an effective, national seniors care strategy at home.
One of the predominant health care issues impacting seniors’ health most is their isolation and depression. When you think of it, those two issues, while very serious in nature are less complex and more common of an elder issue than assisted suicide. Bringing effective pain therapy to those suffering and genuine, government funded and facilitated aid to our depressed, isolated elders would bring untold relief to tens of thousands of elder Canadians, their care providers and their families and likely reduce the requests for government to legalize assisted suicide. It is high time this Federal and Provincial government get their priorities straight and high time that all of us in Canada recognize that providing care and compassion to the many elders aging among us today is not only the right thing to do, it will also cultivate a better culture of compassion in Canada, one that many of us will likely look to for aid from as we age. Based upon how time flies, that day might be in the not too distant future and, for a greater many of us.