Sunday, May 04, 2014

A stitch in time 'til you're 109

According to certain US politicians one of the truly awful things about living in a country where medical care is universal is that "socialists" are always looking to economize, and old and disabled people are as disposable as punctured tires.

Well, our (Canadian) health care system is always looking to economize but they don't do it by sticking the disabled and 70-year-olds on ice floes. No, what they try to do is far more cunning. The wily rascals are constantly trying to find ways to keep you from getting sick or injured in the first place, so you don't end up needing their hospitals, or Saint's preserve us, their long-term care facilities.

They simply can't stand having grandpa sitting in a wheelchair in a government-funded nursing home, playing balloon volleyball with a bunch of widows who could be home hoarding cats or raising roses - they push healthy living, and with it the idea that you are better at home 'til it makes you think it could be a commie plot.

As an example; my own strength has been unreliable lately and I've become apprehensive that I cannot keep Mr. T from falling in the shower, nor have I the arm power and energy to anoint him daily head to toe with the special cream prescribed for his fiercely dry skin. At our last doctor's visit I admitted as much to our doctor who immediately set up an appointment with the clinic's social worker, and now we have a daily visit from a home health aide to give Mr. T his shower, and slather him with cream afterwards.

After the scrubbing and slathering are done the aide turns her (or his) attention to my needs, in the form of doing household chores I find difficult. So far this has resulted in swept and mopped floors, a scrubbed-down bathroom, and a spotless stove and fridge, which I find difficult to clean, especially the top of the fridge and the range hood, because I can't reach them without climbing on a chair, which I can't do any more.  

We are waiting on a home visit from the Falls Team, a physician, physiotherapist and occupational therapist, who will assess the husband's likelihood of falling again, based on past experience and whatever else they base it on. And the nurse comes every few weeks to check him over and make certain I'm not mistreating him. (He's in no danger.) 

And should you be really disabled, like our paralyzed neighbour upstairs, there are home health aides to do all your personal care, a homemaker to do all her cleaning, laundry, shopping, etc, and skilled nursing care is available to her here - in her home. As long as a person's medical needs can be met at home in 20 hours of care a day the health care system will provide the equipment and the care to allow a person to remain at home. My brother-in-law, who had ALS, was cared for at home until the final 48 hours of his life. 

There's a study somewhere that every dollar spent keeping a senior healthy in their own home saves the health care system $9.00 in  the end.  This is really the stitch in time that saves nine. And it's really what most of us want as we grow old, to be at home, that sweetest of places, however humble, and to be with those we love.

No comments: