Saturday, January 17, 2009

silver tsunami


When the Dec. 26th tsunami hit no one got the word out. A Toronto Star article speaks of a Boomer Tsnuami. They are talking about it, but no one is listening.

We are short geriatricians. We will be short LTC beds.

Adult children are in denial about the health issues parents face. Many go undiagnosed by those who provide professional, official or casual care. Family physicians are not taking the time to explore the cognitive processes of patients. Many might miss those tell tale signs of dementia: forgetfulness, confusion, wandering, or other emotional issues.

Those who deliver Meals on Wheels have little in the way of protocol. They can deliver to those who are demonstrating signs of dementia - but who do they tell? Adult children need to know this information. If you provide care for seniors, you have to communicate with their loved ones. Those who provide goods or services to vulnerable elders: the bank, post office, corner stores, might meet seniors and misunderstand their issues. My parents spent a lot of time helping other seniors in their small town. These are the people who can let family members know when things just don't seem right. Friends can call on one another and check in.

So much can be prevented or ameliorated before it is to late.
What is frightening about this crisis is that we adult children remain unprepared. The health care system is a mystery. We hesitate to move from being the child to being the adult in the relationship. Reports of erratic driving or behaviour are avoided by those who cannot process the truth. Many seniors with dementia are not being diagnosed. My book, Living and Dying with Dignity , demonstrates the lack of information accessible to those who try to protect and advocate for our parents.

Ask questions. Get involved. You can get support for your parents. Get a diagnosis. Determine if the issues is organic, or caused by other issues, i.e., polypharmacy, delirium. Talk to your parents and ensure that they are not being underserved by the health care system.

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