Thursday, June 17, 2010

Senior Care and the news

 I truly have to laugh at the 'if it bleeds, it leads' philosophy.
 Some in My Muskoka complain that retirees are taking up bed spaces in long-term care. (We won't call it a 'nursing home' in Ontario anymore!)

I gave a couple of presentations at the North Simcoe Muskoka Palliative Care Conference last week. Held in Casino Rama, it was great. The staff were very attentive. I gave away a few books, but sold more!

It was profoundly interesting to hear one another's stories. I encouraged my audience to add their stories, as it was the them of the day. "Stories in Palliative Care"

Yes, in Muskoka, there are long waiting lists. It is true everywhere. What REALLY CAUGHT MY EYE was the Bracebridge Examiner article that complained about retirees in Muskoka who are taking up LTC placements. They interviewed a daughter who was complaining that her mother, in Lake of Bays, who was given 3 choices for LTC and was sent to Gravenhurst. The wait for a place near the daughter's home was 2 - 3 years in Huntsville, much closer.

Our PSWs are fabulous people, and the nurses know what they are doing. What I do is tell adult caregivers how to advocate. This is an important part of being in touch with what is going on. 

As an adult daughter I gave up a lot to care for my parents. I wanted to share my expertise. Living and Dying With Dignity is a tricky prospect, at best.

Fearmongering won't help, though. Metroland writes: Seniors in Parry Sound are 'Falling through the cracks'. In another article, we are 'Punishing our seniors'. Another, Hurry Up and Wait. All the same article, raising the cry. You know that if it bleeds, it leads! Many seniors are begin cared for well by many in the system.

In 1901 life expectancy: ages 47 (F) and 50 (M).
In 2010 life expectancy is 82.9 (F) and 78.3 (M) years
Seniors experience:
  • arthritis 
  • 44 % of 65 => 74-year olds high blood pressure (40% of seniors) 
  • vision problems: 79% of senior men and 84% of women.
  • One in ten seniors over the age of 75 need help with ADL s.

Despite our grandparents living longer, our parents fail to understand that there are only two certainties: death with taxes. Government is pushing family members and communities to become more involved. Also, they expect neighbours to lend a hand, despite inadequate resources, training, the will or expertise.
I saw mom and dad slowly deteriorating. Denial about health issues because that meant they weren’t ‘fine’.
  • Demand a geriatric assessment to determine their quality of life. Radiation on a 75 year old is different that the same effect on a 45 year old. 
  • There may be other comorbidity factors, such as infections or chronic diseases, that contraindicate treatments.
  • Caregivers & family members must look for signs: driving habits, getting lost
    1/3 Canadians suffer chronic diseases: 80% < 65 years have 1 or more (OHQCC.ca, 2008)

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