Hospitals are not the right place for them and their families can’t care for them at home. The elderly and frail are increasingly collateral damage in the drive to end hallway medicine in Ontario, say advocates and families.
Patients who occupy hospital beds but no longer need acute care, ALC — alternative level of care — patients are a key factor in hospital overcrowding. But with record waiting lists for long-term care beds and shortages of home care workers, patients and their families say they are caught in the middle and feeling pressured.
“This is a crisis,” said Melanie Dea of Rockland, who recently experienced that pressure first hand. Her husband Richard Martin, who has Huntington’s disease, was treated at Montfort Hospital for pneumonia in July. By August he had improved, but was on a waiting list for long-term care and Dea could not safely care for him at home.
As the party leaders criss-cross the country in this federal election campaign, there is a sense among seniors their issues aren’t getting the attention they deserve.
Global News put out a call last month for a special election series, “Ignored and Ignited.”
We asked people to send in issues they feel are being ignored in this campaign, or that have them excited.
No group sent in more responses than seniors.
“I feel ignored by all the contenders. There’s lots of help for families and young people, but where’s the help for seniors?” – Dot
“I’ve heard a lot about families getting breaks, but so far nothing for lower-income seniors. Our cost of living raises are a joke.” – Marion
“I see no concern from politicians in any forward planning to accommodate the elderly. It should already be in place.” – Bill and June
Currently, 40% of older adults take five or more medications per day
Many of Canada’s seniors ingest a worrying, and perhaps unnecessary, amount of medication, according to the lead author of a new study that found a Canadian-made electronic tool is effective in safely reducing the medication overload.
The study by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre was conducted with patients 65 and over who took five or more medications a day. It found doctors could safely reduce the number of medications given to their patients by using MedSafer, an electronic tool that helps monitor the different medications and flag potentially inappropriate ones.
Lead author Emily McDonald, a researcher and internal medicine physician at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, said taking multiple medications can be dangerous to people 65 and up, who are vulnerable to side effects.
Currently, some 40 per cent of older adults take five or more medications per day. In addition to the risk of side effects or complications, McDonald says some medications may not be appropriate for certain health problems, which can make seniors vulnerable to additional hospitalizations, memory problems, dizziness, and balance problems that lead to falls and fractures.
“It’s one of the most common causes of hospital visits. In seniors, polypharmacy — taking multiple medications — has increased enormously in recent years. We’re talking about taking five, 10, even 15 medications.”Lead author Emily McDonald, a researcher and internal medicine physician at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal