Sunday, November 28, 2010

Senior's ill health function of poverty

The stats are clear.
Another friend, keeping busy!
Globe and Mail (Nov. 25th 2010): Number of seniors living in poverty soars nearly 25%
The less wealth you have the more likely you are to be sick. Those 'with' can access health education information, tools to prevent ill-health, and means and measures to monitor illness. Seniors without the means are more susceptible to chronic health issues. Senior women, we've known for a long time, are the poorest of the poor.

Dr. Michael Rachlis, whom I quoted in my book, explains that only moderate cost increases may be attributed to senior health care costs. Dr. Rachlis and Toronto economist Hugh Mackenzie analyzed the impact of population aging on health costs in the summer ( Medicare Sustainability). They concluded that the aging population has only increased health costs by 0.8% per year since 2001 and will increase costs by a mere 1% per year for the next 25 years.

My fellow volunteer - she keeps busy!
What can we expect to die from? Perhaps not the question. Dementia doesn't kill us. It is a symptom. There are many chronic diseases that intersect to cause reactions. Diabetes, for example. We lost a Meals on Wheels client to renal failure. He'd had diabetes, had an amputation due to gangrene, and ended up in hospital. These are real stories of failed medical care. If he'd been education, had changed his diet, renal failure could have been prevented. But the focus is on cancer, isn't it?

Health Reports - Volume 21, Number 3 provides stats on chronic diseases.

Prevalence of Chronic conditions

Chronic Condition
Age 45 – 64 %
Age 65+ %
High blood pressure
Back problems
Vision problems
Heart disease
Urinary incontinence
Bowel disorder
Alzheimer’s disease


*Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
I wrote yesterday about the obfuscation around disease and disease reporting.
In fact, a lot of seniors are in good health, living rewarding lives, lifting up the healthcare system by volunteering, and giving back their time and energy to the community.

Lanark County alone (South East LHIN 10), has between 75 and 80 hospice palliative care volunteers who carry out friendly visiting, or respite for those facing their mortality. From the stories I've heard, most in crisis are those who live in poverty, without family and friends to lift them up. Those with means hire one of the many professional agencies, with support from CCAC's support, to get additional help. Those unable to maintain their homes, who cannot afford to live in the community, or are too poor to hire additional home care, end up in long-term care, or being named 'bed blockers' / Alternate Levels of Care (ALC) patients who could live in comfort at home. Many adult children, primarily women, are giving up work, with an impact on their pensions and their quality of life, to deal with both pediatric children at home, and geriatric parents with failing health.

According to this document, the higher your education, the more healthy you are. The question arises, why? Which may not matter, more the question we ask is how do we change this?

The higher the education, the healthier you are. (See table 2, p. 51) For those without a high school education, 59% are healthy. For those who graduated high school 71.3% report good health, and for this with post secondary education, 79.1% have good health. GOOD HEALTH.

Most of us have learned the lessons about smoking, eating well, exercising, and keeping our brains active. But we are not the people who need help. It is those without support who must be our focus.
CARP recently sent out a questionnaire asking member opinions on medicare paying for not only physicians visits, but asking if the government should also pay for prescriptions, and dental care.

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