What Worries Seniors the Most

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177039100Seniors are a valuable and important part of communities across both Canada and the U.S. They contribute financially to the areas in which they live and often offer hours of volunteer service both to commercial businesses and to family members and friends. As older adults age, it’s their turn to get something back from the community they’ve been a part of.

Often, what older seniors need most is affordable healthcare. An aging body can require specialized care and it certainly requires consistent monitoring in the form of doctor’s appointments, medical tests, and hospital visits.

But a new Canadian survey has found that its residents are far from confident that the current healthcare system will be able to care for them as they become older and frailer.

Both seniors in the U.S. and Canada are now living longer and will need greater access to both hospitals and long-term care residences. The majority of these seniors will be relying on the public system for the care they need later in life. Medical conditions such as dementia are particularly worrisome for seniors. Dementia can necessitate needing not only home-based care but long-term palliative care as well. It’s estimated that it can cost around $900 a day to keep a senior in a hospital and over $100 a day for a bed in a long-term care facility. These numbers drop to about $40 dollars a day when a senior stays in their home and uses home support services.

The situation seems even bleaker in the U.S., where seniors are facing rising healthcare costs. Even when subsidized by Medicare, seniors can be expected to pay large amounts of money to maintain adequate health. A report published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine tallied the financial data of over 3,000 people covered by Medicare during 2002-2008. Specifically, the researchers wanted to know how much seniors were paying for medical care out of their own pockets.

They found that, on average, in the last five years of life, 75% of all seniors with Medicare paid in excess of $10,000. Those without Medicare spent $38,000. And for seniors without Medicare and multiple health problems, healthcare costs soared over the $100,000 mark. This means that for some seniors, their entire income went towards paying for healthcare, with some even pushed to spending more than their total assets.

Which diseases were the most expensive in terms of healthcare costs? Dementia ranked number one—almost double the cost of treating cancer and gastrointestinal diseases.

These high costs are already showing their effects in the senior community where many are opting not to get treatment. This situation not only causes more suffering for those with health problems, but also pushes healthcare costs higher. Seniors who are not treated develop medical conditions that require admission to the hospital.

Healthcare reform for seniors needs to be implemented and it needs to happen now. Without affordable healthcare in place, families will be left to suffer and end life with anxiety and physical discomfort instead of in peace in a warm and loving environment.

Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Kirkey, S., “Canadians concerned about health system’s capacity to handle ‘tsunami’ of seniors,” Canada.com web site, August 19, 2013;
http://www.canada.com/mobile/iphone/story.html?id=8806516, last accessed August 23, 2013.
Millett, C., et al., “Impact of Medicare Part D on Seniors’ Out-of-pocket Expenditures on Medications,” Arch Intern Med 2010; 170(15): 1325-1330. 

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