Author Topic: Star series on aging  (Read 2568 times)

skdadl

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Star series on aging
« on: November 08, 2008, 10:10:53 AM »
Judy Steed has begun an interesting series in the Star on the health, financial, and political problems that an aging population present. (NB: focus on Ontario.)

I know that aging itself is not a disability, but the disabilities of age appear to be her focus and are pretty much what the pop talking heads always focus on, so I've started the thread in this forum.

The video of Phyllis Grosskurth is very moving (if you can't watch the video, much of what Grosskurth has to say is included in the main article). Grosskurth is a distinguished historian and an admirable person who certainly deserves all the love and support and freedom that she has been able to retain, and I don't begrudge her a bit of it -- we should all be able to live through the blows that aging lands on us that way. Unfortunately, most of us won't. She is unusual in having a partner who is both capable and committed, and then in having financial resources sufficient to refit a house and hire private care.

Why does everyone dread the alternatives so much? The loss of independence in itself is always going to be an awful thing to face, but it is also true that most of the alternatives are still so dreadful. I choked when Steed implied that "Crocodile Tears" Smitherman, who had years to do something about nursing homes in Ontario and about the CCACs, deserved any praise at all for his tenure, and I don't think that most of us who know the system are anything but sceptics yet.

Beyond that, we don't just need nursing homes. Many old people won't need them, although they will need communal-living arrangements of some sort. I see very little being done on that front in the public sector, and I'm not sure I'm expecting much.

lagatta

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Re: Star series on aging
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2008, 10:21:21 AM »
What do you mean by communal living arrangements?

I did read the article, and amazingly, didn't find it too depressing even to finish, but as you say the subject's case was exceptional.

It does bother me, though, that the focus of the series should be so much on disability, illness and dependency. There are a lot of people over, what, 65? who are still productive in many ways and living independently, and a great many who live on their own until they die (usually after some hospital stay, but not always).

I was in an extended care centre for something this past week, and frankly, give me a suicide pill instead any day. Oh, it was spotlessly clean from what I could see and the inmates were treated with respect by the staff, but such living conditions are so dehumanising.
" Eure \'Ordnung\' ist auf Sand gebaut. Die Revolution wird sich morgen schon \'rasselnd wieder in die Höhe richten\' und zu eurem Schrecken mit Posaunenklang verkünden: \'Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein!\' "
Rosa Luxemburg

skdadl

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Re: Star series on aging
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2008, 10:51:22 AM »
Well, we now have some institutions for what is called "assisted living," which means that you live in your own space but as part of a complex, and you can call on all kinds of services as you need them; you may be eating in a common space or not, as you like or need to, etc.

As far as I know, though, those are all private institutions, and fairly pricey.

I will write to a friend whose mother started out in a place like that in England that was attached to a nursing home. Residents could progress in stages from a fair amount of independence to nursing care -- it all sounded pretty good to me, but I'm not sure whether it was a private or public facility. The people involved were certainly not wealthy, although two grown children may have contributed something to that.

One other problem we have here that shocked our Scottish relatives is continuity of care. When they heard that T's first doctor had just landed me with the problem of how to take the next steps, they didn't believe me -- they thought I must be doing something wrong, because there, the family doctor would make sure to get people on to the conveyor belt. Not so here: here, you invent your own system, all by yourself, and yes, lots of people fall through the cracks. It is damned hard work, and at just the wrong time.

lagatta

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Re: Star series on aging
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2008, 11:08:52 AM »
In my neighbourhood, a new, publicly-funded block of flats with some communal features - mostly meals, and easy access to medical/nursing staff, 24-hour supervisor etc, has been opened at the corner of Jean-Talon and St-Denis. The rents are considerably lower than at any such private facility, but starting at about $800 monthly, they are out of reach for many people in the neighbourhood. Our tenants' association is trying to get top-ups for at least some people too poor to afford the rents - remember, those might rise with greater care.

We supported the scheme, but with misgivings. It seemed wasteful to build a facility for people unlikely to be able to use the métro much right atop two métro lines, a prime space. We wanted it to be social housing, targeting young workers, and have the facility built a couple of blocks to the north on the site of the former Hôpital Chinois - which has moved back to Old Chinatown - at the corner of St-Denis and Faillon, where there is a bus stop (seniors with some mobility problems and less need to get to work in a hurry are more likely to take the bus than struggle with métro stairs and often broken lifts and escalators). But we did support the scheme rather than see such a prime location simply be sold off to become yet another condo, or a private assisted-living place.

I do think some European countries have a far better system - even Britain, despite the ravages of Thatcherism. The father of my friend in Germany, in his 90s, was living in a little flat in such a block. Dad was a very independent-minded fellow and was fortunate to be both mobile and cogent, almost until the end. My friend took him grocery shopping every week and Dad prepared his own meals (I have no idea with how much help from his four very-much-adult children), though I think he could have eaten in a cafeteria if he preferred that.

Yes, it was seamless when dad suddenly became very frail and had to be moved to a room with more care. But he only lived there for a couple of months, dying at the ripe old age of 98.
" Eure \'Ordnung\' ist auf Sand gebaut. Die Revolution wird sich morgen schon \'rasselnd wieder in die Höhe richten\' und zu eurem Schrecken mit Posaunenklang verkünden: \'Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein!\' "
Rosa Luxemburg

 

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