By Hannah Langstaff
If a year of lockdowns has taught me anything, it is that a prolonged health crisis causes many of us to think about the future. We are constantly asking questions: When will life return to normal? What will normal look like? Am I prepared for what happens next?
Too many questions. Only some with clear answers.
As a nurse working to assist seniors to age safely and comfortably in their their homes, I know that as much as vaccines give us hope, they also lead us, and our families, to think about our current and future care needs.
With approximately 70 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths occurring in long-term care facilities, it is no surprise that nearly two-thirds of Canadian seniors told Home Instead researchers that they are even more committed to aging at home post-pandemic. Against this alarming backdrop, 68 per cent of Canadian seniors say that they are also experiencing pandemic-fueled concerns about choosing long-term care facilities for their future care, 12 per cent more than our American neighbours (56 per cent).
If there is a silver lining to this pandemic, it is that this ongoing health crisis is allowing Canadians to reimagine how we care for our elders. Family members and older adults are realizing they are more connected to the care they need than they previously might have thought. The study reports that:
• Over half of Canadian seniors say the are feeling more comfortable using new technology since lockdowns began.
• 35 per cent say they are more comfortable using technology to help with their care at home going forward.
I have seen first-hand the positive impact technology is having on the isolated seniors I work with. My clients use iPads, cellphones and computers to support their everyday activities including medical appointments, online banking and paying bills, as well as shopping for groceries and drug store items. Beyond day-to-day tasks, it is encouraging to see how regular video calls with friends and family are improving their happiness and mental well-being and helping them stay connected in their communities.
There are options
As we move forward from the pandemic, it is important for all of us to discuss options. Expressing concern is valid, especially after what we have seen in the news. Before, rather than during a crisis is the right time to have a conversation and make a plan with your loved ones about how and where they would like to age. This will help ensure their priorities are respected and will provide greater peace of mind that they are safe and being well cared for.
Like many others, I am deeply saddened by what I have seen over the past year. In post-pandemic Canada, our senior loved ones deserve good quality, personalized care that gives them a feeling of independence and dignity and helps them stay safe with all the comforts of home.
Hannah Langstaff is a registered nurse at Home Instead, Windsor.