Senior Burden or Senior Care?
There continues to be talk of post pandemic re-design for senior healthcare services. What this means is still relatively unknown. What is known is that COVID-19 has ravaged many of our aging seniors particularly in nursing homes and continuing care facilities. And, while medical advances continue, American seniors will live longer bringing with them increased chronic health issues that along with the COVID-19 virus impact will ultimately force some form of re-design for an improved healthcare delivery service model. We hope. But, why does it take a pandemic to definitively highlight the need for improved healthcare services for our aging seniors in the U.S.? The sordid answer, unfortunately, lies deep within us as a society.
As a society in America, we see aging as nothing short of a dreaded, hopeless and a tragic ending. We want to stay young, spend millions of dollars on an infinite array of anti-aging products and exercise equipment to avoid the inevitable. Our television advertising focuses on the negative debility of aging depicted by exhausting, non-stop commercials for funeral homes, long term care insurance, medications and incontinence pads. How’s that for life affirming? Of course individually, we all love and care about our aging seniors as they are our parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors. But, our aging seniors, particularly those with significant health issues are far too often treated by our society with a sense of common place burden which only perpetuates the predisposed stigma in healthcare which fuels the continued dogma of institutionalized type living and medical model healthcare service delivery.
Our country has witnessed firsthand the incredibly detrimental effects of Covid-19 sponsored, unintended isolation in nursing homes and continuing care facilities that has caused so many of our seniors to suffer from mental, physical and cognitive issues.
In many countries and cultures around the world aging is actually celebrated where aging is positively infused into the fabric of society in theory, practice and policy. In many of these environments inclusion is key, where communal living or generational living under one roof may be common, where seniors continue to engage in productive, meaningful activities such as child care assist, meal preparation, house hold activities and even continued work.
We all need some form of socialization and a feeling of self- worth to help maintain our quality of life- ….for the entire life. To be regarded as essential throughout a lifespan regardless of income, health issues, lack of resources or any other branded “barriers” would be priceless. Yes, we certainly need to substantially improve the healthcare service delivery model for our seniors. But, in order to fix healthcare for them, we first need to fix us. Seniors should not be a burden. They should be our treasure. Let’s start there.
Article written by Michael Masse
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