Thursday, February 14, 2013

Another punch in the eye of ageism & budget choices

Jane Meadus, a lawyer with the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, said she fears there will be more case like this given that there are more and sicker seniors living in their own homes and in retirement homes.

Where ill seniors once stayed in hospital or in long-term care homes, they are now being sent home early “sometimes at all costs,” she said. (from "Toronto woman, 87, waits hours for ambulance, then dies," by Valerie Hauchand and Theresa Boyle, Toronto Star, February 13, 2013, excerpted below)
It does not matter whether this woman would have died even if the ambulance had arrived three hours earlier. It does matter that we live in a society characterized by both an aging demographic and rampant ageism. And those two factors are simply incompatible!
It also matters that, if we trippled the number of Advocacy Centres for the Elderly, we still would not begin to overcome the deep, profound, and permanent ageism that infects all segments of our society.
Budgets, revenues, expenses and the responsibility for their sacralizing can be spread around into every nook and cranny of the land. We have become a church-of-accountants, a parish of profiteers, a mission of millionaires, and a sanctuary of statisticians. And  we worship at its altar every day, every hour, and every minute.
And, for every federal politician spreading incense around the national "vault", there are at least a few dozen municipal politicians genuflecting at the smaller version of the same "altar-vault"....
And the people whose funds are collected and shoved into the national/provincial/municipal vaults have a "value" that can easily and correctly be described as "less than the digits on the computer screens"of those making decisions, namely the politicians.
The United States Pentagon scurried, just last week, to insert some $400 BILION into the budget, before sequestration clicks in, for the F35 fighter jet, a monster machine built to fight the twentieth century wars that are all behind us. And at the same time, Social Security budgets will be adjusted by raising the age of elegibility, to prevent their going bankrupt.
Similarly, in Canada, we have millions for both that same F35 Fighter Jet, and also for armed and unarmed ships for the Canadian navy while we are also hearing about raising the age of elegibility for Canada Pension benefits.
Not only that, there are literally millions of "elderly" who are  still in full possession of their faculties, still willing to work, still willing to take jobs they would never have considered in their prime, and  they encounter   employers who turn their backs,  and head-hunters turn their heads upwards and away, at the very thought of recruiting them. And this at a time when we are running a "skills shortage" and an employment deficit, in skilled jobs.
As the grey-generation grows in both numbers and energy, the conventional wisdom is locked into neutral about a new attitude and perception of the people who fill out that demographic, including the politicians, except at voting time, when they know the percentage of grey's who vote is higher than all other demographic groups.
Anyone of us, dear readers, if our mother were the subject of this appalling story, would be angered, even outraged, and depressed, at the kind of society we are leaving for our grandchildren.
And yet, to some extent, we are, once again, complicit in its creation...we have let the bastards away with murder...and by the bastards I mean the people who find no shame or guilt in permitting the wealth to rise to the "top" (along with all the slime in any natural body of water!) while ordinary human services are left without adequate staff, when the new technology makes accounting, bookkeeping and predicting need almost too easy...
There are legitimate reasons, for example, not to provide surgery on a tumour in an ageing man, because the trauma could be worse that living with the cancer. However, that kind of decision is made carefully, professionally and ethically, by doctors and families collaborating in "best practices"...so let it not be said, that pandering to the "elderly" is what this piece sanctions.
However, it is neither legitimate nor acceptable nor to provide the kind of dignity we all want, even from a nursing home whose call for this woman is shunted through seven ambulances.
A challenge to all you whippersnappers
From Letters, National Post, February 14, 2013
Re: Headline Wording, letter to the editor, Feb. 12; Elderly Couple Wins $30M Lottery in Nfld., Feb. 8.

Kudos to letter-writer Doreen Cowan. My thoughts, voiced to my husband on reading the earlier article, were: “The nerve of the National Post to call us elderly.” Glad to see I was not the only one. I’ll be 67 next May and I challenge anyone of you young whippersnappers to keep up with me on my two- to three- mile daily walks no matter the weather. Elderly not!
Hazel Oliver, Ancaster, Ont.
Go Hazel, Go! (and keep writing too!)


Toronto woman, 87, waits hours for ambulance, then dies

In the three-plus hours before she died, an 87-year-old woman waited for paramedics while seven ambulances were redirected to higher priority cases.
By Valerie Hauchand and Theresa Boyle, Toronto Star,  February 13, 2013

 In the three-plus hours before she died, an 87-year-old woman waited for paramedics while seven ambulances were redirected to cases considered higher priorities.
Staff from a Leaside retirement home had called 911 on Dec. 20 reporting that the woman was suffering from abdominal pains. When the call came in at 3:14 p.m., Toronto Emergency Medical Services deemed her condition low priority.
By early evening, she had taken a turn for the worse. An ambulance was there within minutes. But it was too late. By that time the woman had no vital signs.
Toronto paramedics are blaming a staff shortage for the delay.
City Councillor Janet Davis (Ward 31) said she knew staffing levels “were very low . . . but to have an 87-year-old woman die, while seven ambulances were redirected is completely unacceptable.”
In addressing its fiscal priorities, council has been “ignoring the service needs of the city for too long ... we cannot continue to pretend we can provide desperately needed services without funding them,” she said.
Jane Meadus, a lawyer with the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, said she fears there will be more case like this given that there are more and sicker seniors living in their own homes and in retirement homes.
Where ill seniors once stayed in hospital or in long-term care homes, they are now being sent home early “sometimes at all costs,” she said.
She said hospitals are “downloading seniors into the community” and there are not enough long-term care beds.
“It’s going to increase the number of people who need an ambulance,” she warned. “It’s going to be a problem.”



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