Elder Care in Canada - A Dillemma

Elder Care in Canada - A Dillemma

Toronto : Canada | Feb 27, 2011 at 6:31 AM PST
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Canada's Universal Health Care System if failing elders, say some who navigate the system as patients and caregivers. The system, with the looming senior's bulge is filled with mismanagement according to some and needs major reforms.

In a MacLean's magazine article, examples are given by caregivers on a few Seniors, who were advised to be treated at home by their physicians, but family concerns eventually ended up in 911 emergency calls and the results were devastating for those seniors.

In one instance the senior, who was taken to hospital, was infected with C Deficil and died shortly thereafter, while the second senior's condition worsened after an intravenous line went into his arm. After just two days that senior needed two people to prop him just to walk across the room.

Advocates for better elders care believe that in many cases seniors are admitted to hospital while a long term care facility could do a much better job. It is estimated that approximately $2.4 Billion is wasted annually by seniors taking up uneccessary hospital beds. Those navigating the system say that the care is in the best case inadequate and in many cases dead wrong and requires major changes to its approach.

Since the frailest patients often suffer from chronic conditions, requiring a multitude of prescription drugs, they usually end up on expensive machines, with little effect. The claim is that those patients suffer a 5% loss in strength for each day in hospital, experiencing a 50% decline in just ten days.

The system is screaming for reform. The looming increase in boomers in the next few years will have a devastating effect on the system. Estimates deduce that seniors consume 44% of total health care budget of Provinces and Terriotries. 14% of the population is already 65 and older.

Those advocating home care or long term care estimate that the system only works because of informal caregivers, such as spouses or adult children. The Canadian government has provided incentive for those providing care with a tax credit.

An interview with a Registered Nurse said that most of what is said in the MacLean's article is true. Howerver, a lot of seniors are on tons of medications and a lot of doctors have no idea on how to deal with geriatric patients. May seniors are on too many medications poisoning their system.

The interviewee was surprised that $2.4 Billion was spend on hospital care. There is no doubt that many seniors end up in hospital that should not be. Notwithstanding some are best cared for in hospital. Sometimes a friendly face in a homecare or long care facility will cheer up the senior. Hospitals, overwhelmed by the patient load, do the best they can, but treatment resembles an assembly line.

Nursing homes may, in fact, be the answer to the dillemma, however more physician oversight is needed. There is a shortage of doctors, especially in rural areas, and many doctors in urban areas have a patient overload.

Senior Care in the future, will become extremly important. The health care system needs to address this problem, the hospital wait times and physician availability. Will our governments, both Federal and provincial be up to the challenge or will there just be more lip service, causing the eventual collapse of the system.

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Nurses comparing notes.
Karl Gotthardt is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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