BY GARY WALKER
Obviously, the lack of affordable housing is a growing problem - not only in P.E.I., but across North America. One doubled-barreled problem - frequently overlooked by many - is the number of adults (mostly seniors) who live in the hospital. Walking around, fully dressed, and taking up valuable hospital beds.
Actually, they may have family here on P.E.I., but these would prefer that these seniors be placed in a home, where their minimal (if any) nursing needs could be cared for. No more nuclear families, with the lounging chair behind the stove. Sometimes both parents (one being a child of said parent) have to work -sometimes to just get by - with many other demands at home, or other difficult environments.
I applaud these people for being so helpful, and often giving up (literally) their own lives to care for a sick or disabled family member. Some parents deserve a medal for their very difficult lives. Other times, though it is to own a cottage, or have a new car, or to live above their means. How many seniors' homes can we afford?
Meanwhile, these hospital beds are needed - and expensive. It would be cheaper to offer some financial incentive to have a parent at home - even with a sitter, than to tie up over-burdened hospital resources.
Actually, it would be cheaper to rent an entire floor of a downtown hotel, meals included, with 24 - hour nursing care provided, than to spend $1,500 a day for a hospital bed for each ambulatory patient.
Why is this not happening? I'm sure any hotel would be glad to offer such a service, for a fraction of the cost of a hospital bed. Good meals, colour TV, a gym, one's own room with private bath...sign me up.
Meanwhile people who need medical care could get the vacated hospital beds and operating room space if needed.
The present situation reminds me of the old story of Tom, who met his friend coming home with a large basket on his back. "What are you doing with such a large basket?" asks Tom. "Well, dad is pretty old and useless, so I'm going to take him down to the river to drown him". "Ah", says Tom - "Be sure to keep the basket - so your children can do the same to you some day."
As Bob Dylan put it so eloquently many years ago - "The Times They Are A-Changing." Most of us - baby-boomers especially, thought that Dylan was talking to our parents. If you think about it, he was actually looking to the future, and talking to us.
It has always been so - one generation takes care of the next; the only way you can thank your parents is to raise your own children as best you can, and care for those who cared for you. Yes.
Is it realistic to have a new four-bedroom home for two people, retired, with two cars (and sometimes a large RV in the driveway) who go south every winter, while a family member 'lives' in the hospital? Will grand-children ever know their own families and their family history, grow up to do volunteer work and help with the civic duties of the future?
I hate to say it - but unless changes happen soon- " Good luck with that." Yes, "The Times They Are A-Changing".
- Gary Walker, Charlottetown, is a retired educator and frequent contributor regarding Island news