21819774_thbI was watching the news last night and saw a touching story about a darling young lady who was born with a birth defect that required the amputation of the lower part of her right leg. This young lady was on the cheer squad at her high school and was enjoying the heck out of life.
The commentator then mentioned a quote by Scott Hamilton: “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”
Hmmmm, I don’t know about that. But one thing is for certain: Scott Hamilton lives in the United States of America.
When my brother was born, he suffered a bleed to his brain and consequently has sever cerebral palsy. He cannot walk, talk, use his arms or hands and has a very difficult time just sitting in his wheelchair. He is 63 years old and lives in Canada. Although he does not have a bad attitude, I’d say he most certainly has a disability.
Both of my sisters and I were born with a rare disease called cysteinurea that causes us to grown kidney stones at an incredible rate if we don’t continue taking daily medication. My brother’s cerebral palsy is probably related to this same disease, but that’s a whole different story.
(My sisters and I moved to the United States with our parents when we were very young.)
(And what does this have to do with elder care? I’ll get to that momentarily.)
In Canada, my brother receives excellent BASIC daily care at no cost to our family (he has never had a bed sore; he is always clean and well turned out) BUT he does not have any access to the technology that would have enabled him to perhaps use computer software to speak, or to enable him to walk. Of course, his wheelchair is the old-fashioned kind that is heavy and not electric.

When my sisters and I were diagnosed (one at a time) with cysteinurea, there were 3 lithotripsy machines in our county alone that could obliterate the stones using ultrasound without the need for invasive surgery. In Canada there were 2 in the entire COUNTRY. If we had lived in Canada at the time we would never have been able to afford to fly to the city to have the procedure performed, let alone suffer the wait-time. On the plus side, our medications would have been less expensive IF we could get it (it was a new release).

My father had congestive heart failure along with his dementia. In 1992, he had a quadruple by-pass. In 2001, a device which is a combination atrial and ventricular pacemaker plus a defibrillator was implanted into his chest, thus essentially defibrillating his heart automatically each time it went into “v-tach”….
Would my father have been able to get this technology in Canada in 2001? I’m not sure; I doubt it. I DO know, however; that he would NOT have received a new one in 2007, as he did here (WITH a diagnosis of moderate dementia). The doctor in Canada would never even have discussed that possibility…”no, sorry, there’s nothing we can do”. (At this point, I’m going to side with the Canadian system. WHY ?? Thousands of dollars of Medi-Care money were used for that procedure.)
Please understand that I am not faulting the Canadian health system. But I believe there is a lack of understanding in this country about what a national health care plan will actually entail.
For our elders, their lives will be cut shorter due to the denial of technology based services, death clause or no death clause. Families will be forced to provide much of the care for their aging parents or loved ones because hospitals will be forced to discharge patients much sooner than they do even now. And there will NOT be the support systems in place to make this work out well.
As a country, we need to decide: do we want good BASIC care for all, with families pitching in to help more, or do we want the technology to “save lives” ?
PS Scooters will not be covered by Medicare.


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