How do we treat our aging population?

CBC ran a story about elderly care homes yesterday, that claimed 43 care homes on Vancouver island have been rated high-risk. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2008/02/20/bc-senior-homes.html  Granted, a small portion of those given the high risk rating haven’t even opened yet( the rating is given based on a lack of information), but the number is still shocking to me. The entire system governing the management of these care homes need to be re-vamped, and soon, because British Columbia’s rapidly approaching a critical point in caring for our elderly.

A combination of factors have lead us to his point, and it is estimated that by 2021, the number of elderly could outnumber the number of children 19 an under in the province. Baby boomers are now into their 60’s and a career driven younger population have produced dramatically decreased birth rates all through BC. Fewer children, more elderly, and herein lies the problem. What is going to happen to these seniors as they reach the point in life where unassisted living is no longer feasible?

I’m lucky. My parents are a lot younger than most people my age – my father is only in his mid-fifties, so this issue isnt one that presses on me immediately, but  I do still think about it.  Its not as easy as it used to be, thinking back to the times when Grandma would just move into the home of one of her children. Now, the majority of us have smaller homes, higher financial commitments, less time, and  couples require two careers to maintain it all. There’s either no extra room in the home for an elderly parent, or no one to take care of him/her, even if you could manage the space.

This leads us to the option many people are forced to choose -care homes. The thought makes me cringe, to be honest, but I know they are not all bad. Many seniors live in care homes and continue happy and productive lives safely and with the care they need at hand to ensure the best outcome. Some, however are not so lucky. It seems we see at least a couple stories each month about seniors suffering in care homes, and I’m sure there are a litany of stories we will never hear about, simply because the seniors affected have no family, or no one cares enough to monitor.

How does the province plan to handle all these seniors that are heading in this direction? We are already trying to handle a lack of qualified care spaces and the number of new homes being built is not nearly enough to handle the estimates of our future senior population. Combine these factors with an unorganized policing system for care homes, and a disaster awaits for someone.  I fear this leaves us in a situation where one of our most vulnerable populations becomes susceptible to neglect and unsafe living situations, and victim to unsustainable government social programs as we flounder to address the problem . http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/DATA/pop/pop/agingpop.pdf

There is much that can be learned from our elderly, as has been recently substantiated by the recent abolishing of mandatory retirement. Older workers are valuable contributors to British Columbia’s economic picture, and the province needs to support those same workers when they do retire, by ensuring their health, safety and happiness as they begin to be dependant on others for care.

These are the citizens that founded and supported the evolution of our nation,  as well as the parents that cared for and worked hard to give us, their children, better futures than they perhaps had. They deserve much more respect than has been given in many cases, and need to remain active within the entire commuity, not isolated in a home somewhere. Its time we all took a good hard look at ourselves , and our parents, and work together to find solutions now, before it becomes time to face the reality of caring for our elderly.

2 thoughts on “How do we treat our aging population?

  1. Although a topic that has been bantered for sometime….I believe enough is enough already….the elderly are being ignored, robbed, abused and just damn right disrespected these days.

    It is time for for all to provide solutions to the problem It is a given there is a problem and we can all write about it or alright it

    For instance…as someone from the construction industry I wonder why we don’t incorporate “ergonomics” into archetictural studies or build homes for the changes that result as you age…for instance stooping to the lower drawer/cupboard – why not alleviate them or replace the space with dishwashers, compost, pull out recycling for glass, plastic and cardbroard

    The walk in shower – don’t have to be old to appreciate that design

    Slips and falls in the tub are not reserved for “aged” I almost cracked my head as a teen – so in the name of household safety let’s incorporate the corrective measures that seem to become available when you reach a certain age or “do it yourself”

    On a community level…don’t get me going (lol) I see housing developments that only partially m eet the needs of our senior ones Nothing to ensure they are taking meds on time; eating properly or have some form of social support if just a call a day to say someone cares Volunteers are left to do what that I believe an elderly persons tax dollars should ensure!

    As a single woman of 50 plus having not had children in my life I am of the opinion that I should be able to vote or select where my “school/childcare subsidy etc” returns should be placed. For example: I would dedicate those returns to animal welfare; child abuse; or senior supports

    Now does that concept open pandora’s box What if we as tax payers were able to vote or select the service(s) our contributions would be spent on!

    Would make a great debate discussion
    I challenge everyone writing/speaking to this topic to also identify ideas/solutions to the problem Maybe then listeners and readers in positions to adopt the ideas may do so and we can start seeing some “change”
    Thank you for the opportunity to download thoughts on a day that my 84 year old mother is having a bad pain day and inability to get to the pharmacy

    Oh did I mention building self sufficient community blocks for them? Main needs are being met for basic food items; prescriptions (whereby that could be an onsite designate for pick up of prescriptions) trouble is ….it’s percoset and I’m listening to the withdrawl factors over a long weekend with her doctor overseas for a loss of their own and well…I’m 13 hours away and only able to talk her through things over the phone (that’s if she’ll listen)

    So if you are listening/reading this and are in a position to impct the next development of seniors living – think about where you are headed and maybe be part of the change

    Anne

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  2. lailayuile

    Well said, Anne! I only wish I was in a postion to be more influential for causes such as this.

    With the recent news that a West vancouver was ripped off by her care aide, it is an issue that has again sparked discussion. However, as you say , all talk and no action gets us no where. Someone needs to step up and put a well-known public face to the cause, and work on influencing those who can affect change in policy to protect one of our most vulnerable populations. My grandparents experienced much of what you speak of in their elder years, but were lucky enough to have family close by to assist with day to day living.
    Many,many more are not so lucky.

    Sad way to repay those who have helped buld this nation of ours!

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