Goldhawk Fights Back: Aging at home never as easy as it sounds

This is a weekly column by Dale Goldhawk, Canada’s best-known consumer advocate. A journalist, author and broadcaster, Dale hosts Goldhawk Fights Back For You, on AM 740 or at AM740 ZoomerRadio, Monday through Friday from 11 am to 1 pm, in the eastern time zone. Visit his website at

Try living in your own home if you have growing health care challenges.You will need a whole team. First off, I hope, you will have family members willing and able to visit daily, with the necessary knowledge, patience and skills to be able to help; add in a few hours of care from a provincial health ministry (and I mean a few); then as care demands increase, add in an increasing amount of private care, if you can find efficient, qualified care at home.

And then there’s the money and that fearful question you might be asking yourself repeatedly: “Will I run out of money before I run out of life?”

There is a proven and gigantic need for Aging at Home systems that work. I have seen studies that show between 20 and 50 per cent of Zoomers now waiting for long term care beds could, instead, stay in their own homes safely and comfortably, with all their needs met, if only services were available. Rather than make these services available, governments and healthcare providers are stuck in the rut of delivering care largely in hospitals care homes.

This raises the question; could governments put a enough money into healthcare over a relatively short period of time to build the Aging at Home system we need, right across Canada even as they continue to fund hospitals, care homes and other existing facilities at appropriate levels? This could get us over the either-or hump, where we fund either homecare services or institutions but not both to the levels we need. It seems to me only a dual system can match people’s needs to available services. The current system will never work because it matches needs to services that don’t exist or that are so burdened down, they can’t address the need.

A basic Aging at Home system involves transportation, nutrition, housekeeping, medication management, social networking, daily monitoring and support for family caregivers. It isn’t simple to provide all this, particularly in a diverse society like ours. But this kind of system should be built and must be made available to every Zoomer who needs it.

The alternative is to tolerate a system that provides good care to those who can afford it but leaves many who can’t afford it standing in long lines or being victimized by shoddy long term care facilities, unskilled home care providers and abusive family members.

There are many doctors, nurses, homecare workers, institutional administrators, government officials and elected representatives who are sincere in their efforts to come up with workable strategies for Aging at Home. There are homecare services that do work — just not for everyone or even the majority.

However, there is no easy path for most of us that takes us from the position of a healthy, happy Zoomer living in his or her own home to that of a Zoomer who needs help getting around, eating properly, maintaining good hygiene, having a good social life, and getting proper medical treatment.

It might be helpful to forget about provincial boundaries for healthcare for a change and to launch a serious Canada-wide effort to make Aging at Home a reality for everybody. If we don’t do this soon, the rising number of Zoomers forced into institutional care could, indeed, help to bankrupt healthcare for everybody.


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Dale GoldhawkGemini award nominee, journalist and broadcaster, Dale Goldhawk has earned Canada’s trust by his four decades of work exposing fraud and greed in the marketplace. To read more of his articles, go to (now part of the ZoomerMedia family of websites).

Don’t miss Goldhawk Fights Back , on the New AM740 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.