- Canadians brace for higher health care costs…from the CBC
- Seniors and Nutrition - From 'The Pulse' -CIEPS - September 30, 2010
- How to care for parents from a distance - By Christine Flegal, Special to the Vancouver Sun October 12, 2010
Canadians brace for higher health care costs…from the CBC
News website August 23, 2010
Canadians are concerned their quality of health care will decline from the strain posed by aging baby boomers, a new poll suggests. The Canadian Medical Association carried out the poll as part of its annual report card focused on access to health-care services. Canadians themselves are now saying they're concerned about future healthcare costs, said CMA president Dr. Anne Doig.
"It is no longer the medical profession saying there's a problem and others saying no there isn't," Doig added.
The group believes that unless the health-care system is significantly transformed that it won't be able to meet the needs of future generations. But health economists who've studied the issue say there will not be massive increases in cost, said Dr. Danielle Martin, chair of the group Canadian Doctors for Medicare.
"The aging of the population occurs slowly, it doesn't occur overnight and the rate at which it occurs allows the economy to gradually absorb any increase in costs," Martin said.
About 80 per cent of those polled said they were concerned the quality of health care will decline from the strain on the system posed by the baby boomer generation. Almost as many, 79 per cent, worried the health-care system will not be able to offer the same level of coverage as the baby boomers reach retirement age.
Financial burdens were also a worry 76 per cent of those polled said they were concerned they will have to pay more taxes so the health-care system can provide services to the baby boom generation. 73 per cent feared they will not have enough money to maintain their health as they age, compared with 69 per cent who said their top concern was not being able to afford retirement. 85 per cent agreed the rising challenges brought on by the aging baby boomer generation mean federal, provincial and territorial governments need to get on with negotiating a new health-care funding agreement. Canadians under age 46 were more likely than baby boomers to say they were preparing for higher health-care costs, such as by buying long-term health insurance or dipping into planned retirement savings to help pay for their own future health-care costs.
"I would worry that the people handling the health-care money aren't going to handle it properly and there won't be enough," said Patrick Skene, a 35-yearold from Winnipeg. "I foresee our health-care system kind of collapsing in the future."
Both respondents and many doctors agree part of the increasing demand on the health-care system comes from Canadians not taking responsibility for their own health.
"Well, I think there's a responsibility to themselves and to the families certainly," said Winnipeg resident Al Wexler, 75, who visits the gym regularly.
"It's worth doing and it's fun actually," he said of the exercise.
Call for patient charter
The release of the report card coincides with CMA's annual meeting, which took place in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Earlier this month, the CMA released its report, "Health Care Transformation in Canada: Change that Works, Care that Lasts," to spark discussion on funding, staffing and accountability among health-care professionals, politicians and the public. The report called for the creation of a charter for patient-centered care. At the CMA's annual meeting on Monday, patient advocate Durhane Wong-Reiger said patients want to work with doctors to improve the health-care system.
Canadians may feel their individual care is patient-centered, but the charter is a way to hold the health-care system accountable, said Wong-Reiger, who advocated on behalf of patients who were infected with HIV or hepatitis C during the tainted blood scandal in the late 1980s. The report also sets out timelines for areas such as pharmacare, long-term care and accountability in time for the negotiation of the next federal, provincial and territorial health accord in March 2014. Ipsos Reid conducted the survey of 3,483 Canadian adults online between June 8 and June 21. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.66 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
A surprisingly effective solution for many elderly people lies in rebuilding their social lives. Clubs for older citizens with common interests, for example, do much to revive interest in socializing. Restaurants, churches, senior centers, and community events are great venues for stimulating both interests and appetites.
For the homebound, investigate the delivery of hot meals by social agencies. Experienced nutritionists design meals for variety, nutrition, appeal and quantities tailored to senior appetites. One individual may need a diet for lowering cholesterol, while another may require extra fiber for regularity.
Some people who've been dieting all their lives find it difficult to change from a low fat diet to richer fare. Indeed, the sudden addition of fat for weight gain isn't recommended. It's actually better to consider nutritional supplements to boost health immediately and hope to add beneficial foods gradually.
Cooking for the Elderly
If you cook for an elderly person in your home, you don't have to fix special meals. Continue to prepare your family's favorite foods, but adjust as needed. For example, if your mother has to maintain a diet for lowering cholesterol, you can fix low fat main dishes such as grilled fish and chicken with fruit for dessert instead of cakes and pies. A low fat diet will benefit all family members, particularly if you substitute healthy foods. If your elderly dad suffers from hypertension, hide the saltshaker and don't add extra salt to food while cooking. Everyone will get used to less salt in no time. Let your elderly parents help you fix meals. Walking around the kitchen and setting the table is likely to boost their metabolism and their appetite. Unless they're confined to bed, you shouldn't treat them as invalids.
Nutrition Hints for Quality Living
If you have concerns about elderly nutrition, start by considering quality of life issues. Work with a physician and registered dietician or nutritionist who can design a food plan consistent with the patient's medical needs, medications and, most important, food likes and dislikes. Keep these points in mind as you prepare meals, buy groceries, or stop by with an occasional food treat: Don't try to change people in their 70s and 80s. Give them more choices, appeal to their tastes, and show them how their quality of life will improve. If elderly people need to control diabetes, lose weight, or follow a diet for lowering cholesterol, don't overreact if they're "cheating." They have a right to make lousy decisions once in a while. Your healthy low fat diet doesn't give you the right to preach. Avoid using guilt to control others. Keep it simple. Suggest a walk around the block, a visit to the mall or a stroll in the garden. Exercise will boost your loved one's metabolism and is likely to aid digestion too.
How to care for parents from a distance - By Christine Flegal, Special to the Vancouver Sun October 12, 2010
One in five Canadians looks after an aging loved one from an hour-plus drive away, and it can be overwhelming
Judging aging parents' well-being from a distance is difficult. Are they keeping socially and physically active? How are their diet, hygiene and finances? Asking their friends, neighbours and doctor can help you learn more.
Photograph by: Ward Perrin, Vancouver Sun
A friend of mine recently received a call from one of her mom's closest friends. She called Jessica because she was worried about her mother (who lives in another province). A few days ago, a group of friends went out to lunch, and Jessica's mom drove them back to her house for tea. On the way home, her mom became disoriented and couldn't remember what street she lives on. Yet she had lived in the same house for the past 50 years.
Looking back, Jessica, too had started to notice changes in her mother's memory. She didn't think much about it at the time as she assumed these were just normal signs of aging. In hindsight, however, she realized that her mom has been repeating herself and has been calling more frequently, not remembering that she had just phoned.
Because Jessica is a busy working woman with a family -- a typical member of the sandwich generation -- her visits to her mom are sporadic. She had been relying on their phone conversations which she described to me as generally "okay."
As an adult child monitoring and caring for an elderly parent from a distance, your options can be more limited, particularly if there are no family members or friends living close by who can drop by and assist your loved one. As it turns out, eventually Jessica was able to persuade her mother -- with much help and cajoling from her mother's friends -- to move close to Jessica. That is a good ending to this story.
Jessica and her mom are not alone. According to a recent Statistics Canada report entitled Caring for a Parent Who Lives Far Away: The Consequences, one in five adult children who are caring for a parent are doing so from a distance (an hour-plus drive away). This puts them at an obvious disadvantage because they are not readily available to keep a watchful eye over how the elderly parent is doing on a day-to-day basis.
Further, there is greater economic burden on these caregivers compared with those whose parents live close. Unfortunately, many are reliant upon phone conversations, e-mails or even letters, which can be a great disguise for what's really happening. How many times have we heard "Everything's fine, dear"?
For those who are caring from a distance, how much do you really know about your parents' life? When was the last time you really observed their activities? How is their driving? Are they gaining or losing weight, maintaining their hygiene? Do they have bumps and bruises from falls? What's in their fridge? Is the household being maintained, chores being done routinely? Are they keeping physically and socially active? How is their memory? Do you know what their finances look like?
If you're feeling overwhelmed by these questions, it is to be expected. Caring for a parent far away who may be declining in capacity or health, is a daunting prospect. The good news is that research indicates those who converse more often with their parents on these types of topics are generally better prepared to address them. Of course, your willingness to talk to your parents does not immediately guarantee that they will be willing to listen and act.
But my experience in working with families and with my own is that, done right, parents do want to discuss these issues as they are likely worried as well. Go slowly, if possible, and start early. Be prepared that you will likely encounter resistance or denial.
So what else can you do? As mentioned above, the first plan of attack for any adult child, whether or not you live close by, is to become more observant -- look for all those things listed. If you don't see your parent(s) on a frequent basis, enlist the help of their friends, neighbours, relatives, clergy, family doctor, etc. and have them report back to you. In terms of bringing up these topics, particularly if they are unsolicited, here are some tips:
- Try to understand why they don't want to discuss, strategize or plan for the future.
- Share your own feelings. Tell them you are here to assist in any way and that you're concerned.
- Be compassionate and persistent. In other words, don't give up, no matter how frustrating.
Don't wait for that phone call that sends you into a panicked response. Your options will be more limited and you will be making important decisions in a heightened emotional state and with limited time. This doesn't produce ideal results. Plan ahead. Start talking.
Most of all, educate yourself on the various options available to assist your parents, be it additional care, transportation, more supportive housing, etc.