Thursday, 30 April 2015

Who will look after us when we are old?

I read an interesting article today - about how we need to prepare ourselves for the 'grey tsunami' that is coming. Anyone who has been to a hospital  lately, is acutely aware of staff shortages, wait times, bed shortages, many elderly, limited home supports through the government....and the list goes on. We are told that this will only get worse as our population ages and our public system becomes increasingly stressed because of it. This person suggested that families will have to 'pull their weight more' and alluded to the fact that as parents care for children, the reverse should be true when parents become dependent and in need of care and support. It reminded me of the familiar saying...one parent can care for 12 kids but 12 kids cannot care for one parent......

While I understand what the person who wrote the article is trying to say - we cannot rely on the government to provide 100% of the care required for our population - I also get the other side of the coin - there are many situations where it isn't safe or physically possible for a child to care for their parent. There are a host of reasons that this may be a family's reality from financial to physical or social issues that plague so many, that to make a blanket statement about such an expectation is not fair nor realistic. Every family situation is unique and has within it issues and limitations. A situation can be made much worse if someone takes on care that they are not capable of providing.

I think we have to recognize that we have a collective responsibility to care for our elderly and in order to cope with the influx of seniors in the next 20 years, we have to creatively find ways to offer care and support to people that may involved family members but also can and should involve communities and even businesses that cater to the senior market. Government involvement is a necessity for a whole host of reasons - and they are a vital part of the discussion. But, there is no easy solution to what is headed our way. There are far more questions than answers, far more reasons to be concerned than calm. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and hope for the best. We need to start talking and brainstorming about solutions - within our own families (how many people have that conversation before health issues necessitate it?), within our communities and with our governments - recognizing that the solution is with the many, not with the few.

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