23 August 2010

Survey: can Canadian baby-boomers survive our health-care system?

A heavy topic in today's newspapers. Each time the subject crops up the babyboomers are in for it again - taking the blame for the inadequacies of the system and the ageist attitudes of health-care workers, the media, and the government itself.

Following are three comments I have left in comments sections of various newspapers today, before I go off the local swimming pool to get some exercise.

It's no wonder people surveyed see the babyboomers as the ones responsible for the problems of the medical system. It's the only perception of this important social issue that news and opinion articles impart to the public. I don't believe the CMA really wants a national debate (see article - "on the kind of health-care system Canadians want"). Why, otherwise, have they waited so long to say this. I became interested in aging while a student at university in the early 1990's. Even then, we could see there would be a problem at some point, if nothing was done. And so now, finally, when Canada's citizens are riled up from reading about the problems "caused" by the babyboomers, the CMA says it wants to hear what Canadians have to say? One thing that would help would be if health-care workers did their jobs to the best of their ability (and got them in the first place on that basis - that they were good at what they did). (Canadians bracing, National Post, Aug 23, 2010).

Mary wrote "The health care system in Canada gives each patient a rating when admitted."

I had thought it was more informal than that, that it was the hospital staff, or the doctor's, who rated the patient according to the knowledge they had on hand at that moment. They must look at social ratings - does this person work, have children, a husband, own a home, or is well-established within the community. All these things count. Then, of course, we have to deal with the biases of hospital staff themselves. If I break an ankle, can I, an older woman without a husband, a job, or home that I own, expect to be treated fairly by an orthopedic surgeon who got his training at a university in Libya? Not only am I dealing with ageist, sexist, and class-based biases from people who grew up Canadian, but I also have to deal with foreign attitudes of the medical staff.

Being able to walk and have the independence that allows is important for older people. To have that taken away at the whim of the medical staff, and other health-care practitioners, is the fault of the attitudes that actually seem to be encouraged in our country. Canada is not a nice place to live, for many of us. (comment, Most Canadians, CTV, Aug 23, 2010).

pkmills (8/23/2010 8:57:16 AM) has hit the nail on the head. Not just politicians, but anyone who is not liked, for whatever reason - the work they do, where they live, their beliefs - can end up having inadequate or dangerous decisions made about them by health-care workers. It's such an arbitrary process that some people without insurance can get what they need from the medical system, without paying extra, while others just won't get it no matter how hard they try. I'm talking about people such as unliked political figures, people who raise controversial issues about society, immigrants, the homeless, the unemployed, and so on.

What I would hope is that people who work in the medical system would do their job as best they can, and not let personal or political biases get in the way. For older people getting helpful treatment in the community is not always that easy, when ageism and other factors result in games being played that place obstacles in the way of their getting what they need. In the end, what causes an unnecessary drain on the system is having increasing numbers of babyboomers who don't get the proper information and so become less able to remain mobile and independent in their homes and out of them. (comment, Survey finds, G&M, Aug 23, 2010).

4. added Aug 28, 2010
Possibly there's something to this 'Charter for Patient Centred Care'. It might seem obvious to most of us, but to citizens age 30 and under it might not. Just as every new generation has to learn the basics, perhaps this generation of young men and women in docs' offices and hospitals also have to learn. Hence the 3 items listed in the article.

If all health-care workers followed these guidelines instead of current norms in society which encourage the playing of mindgames and language games, and using one's power in whatever way one chooses, hospitals and doctors' offices would be better places. When there are no religious beliefs to direct a person through their lifetime - a sense of alienation, Marx would say - anything can happen. Health workers have the ability, knowledge, and skills for the job they are hired to do. So it's a matter of using them the right way to get the job done. (comment, Baby steps, Nat Post, August 26, 2010).

Aug 29, 2010
One of the ways people manage to silence the ones they wish would stop talking is to make life so hard that it becomes a real struggle to survive.

Continuous obstacles set in one's path take up most of one's time and energy. Some cause one's health to suffer. Even those who should be on your side end up benefiting by making life harder for you. When they can't win by intimidating, or by skillful or not-so-skillful manipulation of the English language, they do so by lying outright, turning people against you and destroying your reputation. I know people this has happened to. Some commit suicide, some suffer silently, and some conform and laugh about it while in public. Some kill. But still the world carries on, blindly. Why doesn't anyone listen?

Baby steps to better health care, but still a long way to go
By Tasha Kheiriddin
National Post Full Comment
Aug 26, 2010

Canadians bracing for health-care system 'silver tsunami'
By Meagan Fitzpatrick, Postmedia News
National Post
Aug 23, 2010
This article is no longer available; nor are the comments (April 9, 2012). See Edmonton Journal, below, for the article.

Canadians expect health-care strain as they brace for 'silver tsunami': poll
By Meagan Fitzpatrick, Postmedia News
Edmonton Journal
Aug 23, 2010

Doctors and medicare
Toronto Star
Aug 27, 2010

Most Canadians fear for health system: report card
By CTV.ca News Staff
Aug 23, 2010

Survey finds most fear boomers will cripple health-care system
By André Picard, Niagara Falls, Ont.
Globe and Mail
Aug 23, 2010

'You can’t be cured by an idea’
Toronto Star
Aug 28, 2010

Links updated June 2012

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