Monday, January 5, 2009

needs and wants

All of us have needs: food, clothing, shelter and clean water. If we do not have good health then meeting these needs is a difficult proposition.

Living an independent life, a senior must be able to manage his or her ADLs and IADLs.
In order to have these basic needs met we require health care and support service personnel such as:
  • geriatrician
  • health care specialist or patient advocate (i.e., CCAC)
  • pharmacist
  • physiotherapist
  • foot care specialist
  • dentists
  • massage therapist
  • social services
  • dermatologist
  • neurologist
  • cardiologist
  • endocrinologist

In addition, to manage IADls, we need transporation to:
  • pet stores
  • pharmacies
  • offices
  • bankers
  • financial advisers.

but we need to get to a pharmacy, and locations of these health care professionals ( laboratory for tests, doctor's offices, massage therapy studio, etc.) to have help maintain good health and avoid the ravages of our golden years. Chronic diseases (diabetes, stroke, heart attacks) are comorbidities that often destroy the quality of life of our elderly. They are preventable if diagnosed, along with vascular dementia. Chronic diseases require awareness of best practices, integrative approaches, education and surveillance for action. (Visit the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention for more information.)

Transportation remains one of the most obvious barriers to accessing services for senior's ADL and IADLs. There are activities one needs to do at home: daily (ADL), or out in the world less frequently (IADL). This is the great predictor of ill-health: seniors requiring support to meet daily or weekly needs. The most obvious sign geriatricians use is an empty refrigerator. For, if you are attending to any of the physical, social or emotional needs of an ailing or frail senior, it usually requires they have a driver, what with the issues facing senior drivers.

But we also have wants: entertainment, social events, travel, affordable support and safety items (specially adapted clothing, access to technology, hand bars in bathtubs, walkers, and other assistive devices) that make life and living easier and keep seniors mobile and active psychologically and physically.

Once we move into the category of senior, meeting our in-home and basic needs may become more difficult to manage. There are some phenomenal Senior's Centres in Central Ontario in all the towns: Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Parry Sound, Huntsville, for example. Some spouses need support caring for ailing spouses. I have heard of a family in which the caregivers in their 70s are caring for an adult parent in their 90s.

There are Day Away programs to which spouses and caregivers may send a senior loved one for well-deserved respite care. Seniors can go to CCAC for extra support, although they are limited by budgets. Many seniors and/or caregivers (often adult children) are seeking answers for balancing their social, emotional, and financial lives with their caregiver responsibilities. It is my opinion that caregivers must determine where the balance lies and not be afraid to say 'Uncle'. Dementia, for example, in its latter stages takes away the family member we knew and loved. When you begin having to balance your needs and wants, and the right you have to having a good, healthy life, you must empower yourself to make a decision to either get more help in, for find a placement. There is no shame i this. In all the years I was a teacher I have heard people say, "Oh, admire you. I could never do that job!" This is the same of being a caregiver.

I managed to get enough care for my mother at home, but my father we had to place in Long-Term Care. We could not lift him, keep him clean, or supervise him 24/7 as he needed. It just was too much for me, and my family.

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