No going back from suddenly becoming a caregiver

There are a few basic truths that reveal themselves in almost every story of sudden-onset caregiving. The first is that love remains intact

No going back from suddenly becoming a caregiverFalling into caregiving is a particularly apt descriptor for anyone whose spouse has suffered a stroke or received a cancer diagnosis. The day of a loved one’s serious head injury is the marker for a family life before and after caregiving. A catastrophic event or diagnosis catapults a caregiver into another land – a territory…

Growing number of seniors lack support of family, friends

Unbefriended,’ these isolated seniors require more help to safeguard their access to basic daily needs, including companionship, and improve their quality of life

Growing number of seniors lack support of family, friendsBy Stephanie A. Chamberlain and Carole A. Estabrooks University of Alberta What happens when a person grows older and can no longer make health and financial decisions for themselves – but also doesn’t have family or friends who can make those decisions on their behalf? Health and social services use a hard-hitting term to describe…

Address your fear of dying, express end-of-life care wishes

As physicians, we see death made worse and more painful every day by poor advance care planning

Address your fear of dying, express end-of-life care wishesBy Paul Hébert and George Heckman Canadian Frailty Network Are you or a loved one aging, perhaps with a chronic heart or lung condition that limits daily activities? Do you have an older parent in a nursing home or who needs assistance with daily living activities? If so, read on and make the pledge. As…

Health-care funding reform needed to address aging population

Older Canadians endure the tyranny of public institutions that decide the level of home care provided and even when they should leave home

Health-care funding reform needed to address aging populationFunding home care and long-term care is fast becoming the main challenge of our outdated medicare system. The system was developed in the mid-20th century for a young population that mostly required acute care from hospitals and physicians. But that need is changing rapidly with our aging population. The Canada Health Act states that all…

Long health-care wait times costing Canadians time and money

Long wait times (and their consequences) shouldn’t be the price we pay for a universal health-care

Long health-care wait times costing Canadians time and moneyAn unfortunate reality of Canadian health care, is that long wait times that have characterized it for years have made us come to accept delayed treatment as the norm. What we often forget is that while some patients may be able to wait for treatment, others may be in considerable physical pain, may experience mental stress,…

The best faith-based response to physician-assisted suicide

Canadians need quality, accessible palliative care, not a quick end to life

The best faith-based response to physician-assisted suicidePhysician-assisted suicide is coming soon to a health-care institution near you, and you won't need to be terminally ill to access this medical intervention. In its decision in the Carter vs. Canada case, the Supreme Court has given Canadians the right to die, and an answer for the perennial problem of pain and suffering. But the Carter…

Why Canadians need to have end of life conversations

People who have end of life conversations with their doctors and family members are much more likely to be satisfied with their care

Why Canadians need to have end of life conversationsCanadians are likely to have many important conversations with their loved ones over the holidays, but probably most won’t talk about what should happen in the event they can no longer speak or make medical decisions for themselves. It’s what’s called Advance Care Planning, and while experts say most of us should do this well…

Why patients at the end of life may not be receiving the best care

Providing comfort care should be the first priority for those nearing the end

Why patients at the end of life may not be receiving the best careBy James Downar University of Toronto and John Muscedere Queen's University Our health-care system focuses on fixing everything we can when a patient is ill. But when someone is nearing the end of life, this approach may no longer be what the patient and their families need or want most. And it may mean such…

Assisted suicide raises troubling questions

For anyone wondering why physician-hastened death makes disabled people feel vulnerable, wonder no more

Assisted suicide raises troubling questionsI like Stephen Fletcher. Our brief encounters, typically in airports or the occasional public event, are always friendly and cordial. It is hard not to admire him. Despite suffering from quadriplegia, he has found the strength to serve his country as a Member of Parliament, at various times holding appointments as Minister of State (Democratic…

Why we all need to have end of life conversations

Discussing death allows us to make plans and to make our wishes known to loved ones

Why we all need to have end of life conversationsThe last time I was in Israel, I went on some home visits with a palliative care physician in the town of Sfat near the Sea of Galilee to offer some advice to his terminally-ill patients. One older Chassidic Rabbi was dealing with an advanced lung cancer, and having a difficult time accepting any kind…