Senior’s Column

A lack of transportation services can make things difficult for seniors, especially when medical appointments are involved.

I recently spoke with some Nakusp area seniors who expressed concern over the lack of certain bus transportation services inparticular, which are designed to ensure that out-of-town medical appointments as well as social opportunities can be attendedwith minimal inconvenience.

The goal is intended to enhance one’s quality of life in order to help keep older members of our population living a comfortableand affordable lifestyle within their own homes and communities. For example, seniors are sometimes required to travel outsideone’s home base in order to be able to access programs which are related to chronic disease management. The fact is those whoare aged 75 years and over are frequently those who are least familiar with computers. This results in their not being able toaccess information concerning health related issues and also the benefit forms required to be completed as part of themandatory application process. What’s more, compromised hearing or cognitive problems impair one’s ability to navigatetelephone options.

Many low-income seniors experience problems when needing to drive long distances to access medical specialized services.Some do not even own a car or have a driver’s license any longer in order to get to where they need to go.

The question of affordability is another concern. The expense of a round-trip for two running from Nakusp to Kelowna forexample, stands as a major reason why some appointments are cancelled, in spite of their importance, in the patients’ achievinghealing and wellness according to plan.

Self-respect and pride within the seniors’ age group can mean that these individuals are the least likely to ask for help if theycannot afford it, and may result in being forced to cut costs from somewhere else in order to manage their budget successfully.The stress of having to face these difficult situations tend to negatively compound the impact of dealing with one’s healthoverall.

It is viewed by some that the BC Ministry of Health Services is challenged to accept at least some responsibility for the problemsit may have caused when it placed emphasis on the directive of achieving “sustainability” (affordability) over and above the fiveprinciples of the Canada Health Act which are mandated federally.

Health authorities and supporters are asked to deal with problems owing to the declining rate of available and affordablemedical and home support services as well as the increasing financial burden placed on not only the patients themselves, butalso on members of their families. What’s more, the widening age gap which stands between the quality of rural and urbanhealthcare continues to be a major issue which must be addressed without delay.

Sincere thanks are extended to colleague Sally Williams, an active member of a Kaslo area group of citizens concerned aboutseniors and others who may be at risk, for keeping me informed and aware of our mutual need to work together now and infuture for the sake of maintaining current and upcoming programs and services which are designed for older citizens, theirfamilies, caregivers and stakeholders overall.

 

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