Mr. Jones is an 83-year-old widower living in his own home. When asked, he’ll tell you he is doing “fair to middling”. He’ll go on to tell you his legs are tired and wobbly and he doesn’t get out as much as he used to.
He has a scooter, which gets him to town and back, but his vision is getting worse and he’s not sure how much longer he can safely use it. He likes listening to audio books and watching sports. He has children, but they all live out of town. They worry about him. Mr. Jones has Lifeline (personal emergency response), a housekeeper to clean every two weeks, regular meal delivery and he relies on friends to help with grocery shopping and other tasks.
Mr. Jones knows that he needs a little more help to stay in his home and is a little worried about his future care needs, but doesn’t know where to go to find information or what’s available in his community.
Maybe one of your parents or your spouse is like Mr. Jones. Or perhaps you feel a little (or a lot!) like Mr. Jones yourself. Either way, there comes a time when the person who you’re caring for requires more support and care to keep them as independent as possible. For some, caregiving becomes a part-time job and a full-time worry.
Knowing that you or the person you’re caring for needs more help is one thing. Navigating your way through the health care maze is another. Health care is very complicated and it can be challenging for seniors and family caregivers to understand the ins and outs. Do you know whom to call to find assistance to help yourself or an aging loved one manage at home? It’s also tricky to figure out what services are needed, what your eligibility for publicly funded home support is and where to go to access services in the community.
A good sailor knows how to use their map and compass to navigate the open seas. The same applies to caregivers navigating the health care system.
A recent survey conducted by CARP and the Sheridan Centre for Elder Research found that:
- 81% of Canadians find the health care system too complicated, and 78% of Canadians agree that patient navigation is a challenge.
- Almost 8 out of 10 Canadians said that caregiving was the most difficult challenge.
- Canadians identified managing their chronic diseases as the most important patient navigation challenge.
It’s timely for Family Caregivers of BC to write on system navigation. We just held our very first “Coach Caregiver” webinar – a new format where, similar to a radio show, we brought in an expert and a family caregiver to talk about health care system navigation. The recording will be up on our website very soon, so be sure to come back in a week’s time to listen in.
So with this in mind, let’s pull out our maps and compasses and we’ll tackle the health care system together and review what it offers and how to access services. Stay tuned for our next blog.