Friday, May 10, 2013

Health challenges in the FSU

There was a fascinating discussion at the JDC Board meetings the other day about the health of the elderly.

The general feeling, expressed by one of my colleagues, is that we should be proud of what we've done, and concerned that we’re not doing enough.

There are huge challenges. The first seems to be the massive amount of change that is coming up on the horizon. The needs are going to change as the elderly age through the system, meaning that their needs are going to get more expensive. This is already well-know and we can see the implications already in our planning and infrastructure: a 65 year-old’s package of services is heavily tilted in favor of food. A 75-year old’s package of services is increasingly medicine-heavy (and medicine is much more expensive than food). An 85-year old is more reliant on home care (which is more expensive than medicine, by far). 
And so on.

Second is the willingness of governments to let NGOs come in and do the work. If we want to help the elderly live the kind of lives we live, and expect to have in the US, we’re going to have to provide unimaginable levels of support, and that will require massive cooperation with governments.

And third is the issue of loneliness. So many of our clients are homebound and lonely. We not only have to provide them with food, medicine, and homecare. 

We have to give them hope and dignity and a sense of belonging. 

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