Scanning the globe for news by, for and about Senior Citizens
The Baseline report estimates that more than 142 million older people, or 14% of all people aged 60 years and over globally, are currently unable to meet all of their basic daily needs. Furthermore, older people are often invisible in statistics as we have so little information about them. While we know that some people lose physical and mental capacities as they age, we know too little about their needs and whether their environments can compensate and allow them to live with dignity, continue to be active and able to thrive.Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Director-General, World Health Organization
* 81% of all Canadians surveyed agree that the challenges facing LTC homes were evident before the pandemic, and COVID-19 only made them worse. This figure jumps to 92% for Canadians aged 65 years and older.
* Only around 1 in 4 (26%) respondents believe that LTC homes were safe and operated at high standards before the pandemic. This figure drops to 13% among Canadians aged 65 years and older.
* 83% of respondents believe that LTC homes are understaffed, and 78% believe that people who work in LTC are underpaid for the work they do. These numbers ncrease significantly with age. Among respondents aged 65 years and older, 91% believe that LTC homes are understaffed and 86% believe that staff are underpaid.
* Three-quarters (73%) of Canadians surveyed believe that the high number of eaths in LTC homes related to COVID-19 could have been reduced if governments had acted sooner.
Reckoning with a disease that has claimed nearly 2,000 Albertans in the past year
Marlene Ducommun realized she was going to die and was angry for about 15 minutes.
The 76-year-old had given up a lot in her efforts to avoid catching the virus that causes COVID-19, but it managed to get her anyway. Some people barely feel the effects of the disease, but her case turned out to be especially severe. After a few days at the Foothills hospital, her condition only worsened, and doctors didn’t sugar-coat the prognosis. She knew her death would come soon.
And so close to Christmas. It wasn’t fair.
Back in the spring, Marlene gave up her job at a hardware store in northwest Calgary, where she worked more for the social interaction than for the paycheque. They called her the matriarch of the Tuscany Home Depot. She loved greeting the customers and was always up on the latest staff gossip. But her family thought the work had become too risky, with all the in-person interaction, and Marlene reluctantly agreed to give it up. She would play it safe and stay home until this whole pandemic situation blew over.
“That was just heartbreaking for her,” said her daughter, Debbie Ducommun. “Because she loved going to work and she was very, very social.”
Weeks of isolation turned into months, and Debbie could tell her mother was growing lonely. Daily conversations over FaceTime weren’t the same as in-person visits, complete with hugs and sharing Marlene’s freshly baked cookies. Still, they figured, it was better safe than sorry. And Marlene was safe, until suddenly she wasn’t.
Debbie doesn’t know for sure if that day in mid-November is how her mother caught the virus.
“I was in and out of her house very, very briefly to drop groceries,” she recalled.
“We both wore masks.”
A few days later, Debbie started to feel sick with cold-like symptoms. She went for a COVID test immediately and self-isolated as she awaited the results. Two days later, the news arrived via text message: positive. She called her mother right away.
Marlene said she was feeling fine, apart from a “bit of a cough.” They requested a test, via the home care she was receiving because of an earlier hip replacement. It took nearly a week for someone to arrive. The cough was getting worse.
Seventy-four-year-old Diana Reichert is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
And yet, more than a month after receiving her second shot, she is just as lonely in her Vancouver long-term care home as she was before.
“She’s fully vaccinated and we’re still having to fight. It’s a new fight every week,” said her daughter, Becky Reichert, who is allowed to see her mom for one hour a week.
“I didn’t think they’d throw the doors to long-term care wide open (after vaccinations), but I certainly didn’t think I’d have to book a week in advance,” she said.
Anna van Blankenstein’s husband lives at the same facility, Royal Arch Masonic Home, which is operated by Vancouver Coastal Health.
He has already had COVID and later received his first vaccine.
Still, van Blankenstein says, she only gets a single, half-hour supervised visit with him once a month.
“The visit is grim,” she says. “I have to be masked. My husband and I can’t reach out for one another. There is a chaperone sitting about 14 feet away who can overhear everything we say and she’s there to prevent any kind of infraction.”