Taking Responsibility

“The life history of the individual is first and foremost an accommodation to the patterns and standards traditionally handed down in his community” – Ruth Benedict

It has been raining off and on for most of the day.  I knew it was coming so took advantage of the sun yesterday and went out to restock.  Pantry is now ready for at least a four day siege.  Glad I did, good exercise and I quite enjoyed the sunshine.  Now, gazing out my window, there’s a mist in the air creating a grey tone appearance to my surroundings.  It makes me wonder if this is how someone with cataracts views a changing world.  At the same time I feel like I’m experiencing a “mental cataract” when it comes to putting thoughts to paper.

As I said it is a dismal day outside so I am trying to avoid thinking dismal things, however that is a blockage for someone who likes to be expressive with words.  So I am gazing out the window, partly because of the new two story multi-unit development going on across the street (starting at 7am) and partly to see if I could land on a topic that piqued my creative juices.  Sitting here wanting to write but lacking an emotive topic and the phone rings.  Now this is cool because I didn’t know it could be done but my computer rings the minute my phone rang with a little phone icon in the upper right hand corner, so I answered with the computer.

It’s a buddy of mine from Alberta (we were neighbours 30 years ago and been tight ever since).  He was on his way to Camrose and had been listening to CBC Manitoba in his truck.  I know nothing says wake up like listening to CBC talk radio right.

March of Dimes Poster Child
From a Winnipeg newspaper, 5 years old and March of Dimes Timmy

We do share some of the same values and interest so he suggested I check out a CBC Manitoba report on the issues being faced by the polio/post-polio community.  I have a history with Manitoba and he is aware of that.  The subject is one I am personally very passionate about and have written often about.  The story hit very close to home based on current experience with a community health system (all well meaning) that is so out of touch with the reality of what’s happening in the community.  BC already has a seniors care crisis lets not complicate things by forgetting our history.  There are 15 to 20 thousand polio survivors hitting retirement and entering a system that can hardly manage the current crisis.  This should actually be an election issue here in BC!

Boy the rain is coming down but so is my mood.  As some of you are aware I am currently “playing the game” so I have a “care worker” come by every morning, usually around 10 to meet the stated needs the current health policy dictates.  Usually by the time they get here I’ll be working away on my computer.  I always leave a few dishes in the sink so they have something to do but inevitably the conversation comes around to my wheelchair.  That way we have both met the needs of community health. Continue reading “Taking Responsibility”

Being Your Own Media

“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

It has been such a crazy week I am more inclined to withdraw than report on it.  However one does not generate much awareness by sitting in a corner mumbling.  In this new time of “post truth” and “alternative facts” (I can’t believe I can even say that) people have to be aware how insidious social media can be and check their facts.  People need to exercise their mind just as much as their biceps and fact checking is a good way to do that.

Much of my desire to withdraw is due to the level of fake news and the toxicity it’s having on the people around me.  This is why people need to be more responsible and part of being responsible is to verify your knowledge level.  A bit of common sense is needed…

Look at it this way, if I were to lend you my car so you could get to Campbell River and back but half way there you ran out of gas because I said I thought it was full when you asked, is it my fault I was wrong.  Hopefully one would verify how much gas by maybe topping it up before you took off.  Social media is kind of like that.  Just because someone says something or posts some “really cool” picture on Facebook does not mean it’s true.

That doesn’t mean anyone with a personal agenda or questionable ideology (that’s what Facebook is for) can’t use social media but social media, like any form of communication, has certain rules.  One of the basics I grew up with was an individuals responsibility to verify information.  In the days of talking that might have meant something as simple as “what did you mean by that” or “where did you hear that from”.  Get into the habit of not just accepting.  The second lesson I learned really early was to raise awareness with references and substantive sources.  So it is best I write rather than binge on Taboo…so for today I will be somebodies media and to be clear I am NOT a journalist although I have had my own column in the Alderlea Magazine now defunct.  So I repeat right now I am playing media…

bethenewsFor those of you that have been following my adventures to access an assisted living apartment well caller 3, and 4 made their presence known.  Caller 3 was an in-home assessment done by a nice fellow, an Occupational Therapist who was close to my age.  I introduce him to more adaptive aids and techniques I have developed over a life time of trial and error to the point where his visit was more of an in-service than a client assessment.  He recognized the foolishness of using criteria to assess an “able-bodied” senior experiencing age related decompensation with someone whose life was build around developing adaptive techniques.  How many stairs I can do before I become short of breath or has the weight load of your grocery shopping changed in the last six months?  Those are not exactly the criteria someone in a wheelchair worries about. Continue reading “Being Your Own Media”

And that’s the way it is…

I have sat down (kind of redundant statement considering I’m wheelchair dependent) numerous times in the past couple of weeks to put some thoughts to paper but to no avail.  Traditionally when I’m writing I have CBC News World on in the background, a practice I have now stopped.  It was becoming to difficult to stay focused on writing with all of the  political commentary and spin going on in the background.

Some of the crap I hear coming out of Stephen Harper’s mouth is beyond amazing and it is very obvious that he lives in the great nation of Denial.  Unfortunately I can’t afford to live there so I maintain my place in reality.  To that end I have created my own hashtag #CanadiansAreNotIdiots so please feel free to use it.  For today I want to focus on a couple of different but related issues, a national seniors plan and affordable housing.

I have mentioned numerous times that I am part of a generation that represents the largest social experiment in our countries history and it wasn’t planned.   As a baby-boomer I am one of thousands who survived the polio epidemics of the early 50’s and went on to be integrated into mainstream society, sort of.  I say “sort of” because many of us went on with our life’s while the more severely affected lived out their remaining years in institutions. Continue reading “And that’s the way it is…”

What is Justice?

Shout it out
Raise your voice for justice

Sometimes we have to get up on our soapbox and scream our frustration at the world.  Often all we hear is the echo of our own voice being bounced back at us but, with that said, we should never stop raising our voice when we see injustices that are important to us.  Ignoring it just leads us into complacency and it is through complacency that we lose our hard fought for democracy.

One thing I learnt really early was the old adage “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”.  I am not the type of person to be fooled twice, although it has been known to happen.

So tell me something, do you believe in law and justice?  After all we elected a government based on a strong platform around law and order but then they also ran on a platform of a more open and transparent government.  We haven’t seen that and now have one of the most secretive governments that I can ever remember seeing in my 40+ years of casting a ballot.  But I will leave that one alone for now.

It’s the law and order one that has me.  The crime rate in Canada has been on a continual decline since 1972 so I am not even sure how it became such a big election issue.  I can tell you why.  FEAR.  Since 911 FEAR has become the central theme for almost any government initiative in North America but I refuse to live my life in fear from outside forces.  I do, however, live in fear of what this government is stripping away from Canadians.  And I point my finger directly at the federal government.  Our federal government’s idea of good fiscal management is to download costs to their provincial counterparts and the tax payer continues to pick up the tab.  This is particularly true of health care.

And how is this related to law and order you ask?  For an answer lets look at two separate cases but same issue at two ends of the country.  That issue is the treatment of our seniors and in particular those seniors with dementia.  First the case in Vernon, BC.  A 95 year old gentleman with severe dementia in a very disoriented state attacked his roommate which resulted in his death.  This is a tragedy and difficult to believe it could actually happen in a country like Canada.

However this is not an isolated case.  More recently a case in Halifax resulted in the death of a 74 year old women who was struck by a gentleman with dementia and the resulting head injury suffered during the fall resulted in her death.  Both of these events were tragedies and I believe they were preventable.  People under the care of the government should not be paying the price for inadequate funding especially when that cost is death.  And health care funding continues to drop as demand increases.

There was a time when the feds matched the provincial health costs dollar for dollar.  Today it is about thirty cents on the dollar and, as announced by Minister Flaherty, that is going to continue to drop.  As those transfers drop so will the level of care.

Now back to the law and order.  The case of the 95 year old in Vernon has resulted in manslaughter charges.  Now am I the only one who sees how ridiculous this is.  The gentleman has dementia and I am pretty sure this will go no where in a court of law however there will be a lot of lost resources going into this case.  Does law and order mean absence of common sense?  Will we see the same thing happen in Halifax?

It is my opinion, and only my opinion, that the guilty party here is the government.  As we get caught up in their smoke and mirrors, our seniors as well as our health care system is suffering.  Having just relocated to BC I see this happening.  My mother’s husband is currently in a “private” facility reportedly there for persons with dementia.  From what I have seen of it, it is nothing but a boarding home for 12 people with a locked door.

One of the other residence goes into his room daily and takes the fresh fruit that my mother takes there regularly.  When you can find the one or two staff that are on duty, and I use that term loosely, they’ve never seen it happen.  From what I have been able to find out there are really no staff with a medical background except maybe house keeping.  Now I am not denigrating the staff because I also believe they are doing the best they can with the limited resources they have.  The issue here is lack of financial resources because the government was able to fund it as cheaply as possible.

I find myself asking, “how many dementia beds could be adequately funded if we weren’t wasting tax dollars charging 95 year olds for actions beyond their control”.  If you understand dementia you will realize that the person there is not the same person that you knew all of your life.  As long as the federal government continues to download costs to the province just to demonstrate in their own twisted way that they are “good fiscal managers” we will continue to see these kind of tragedies.  What really concerns me is the very good chance of an increase in these types of stories.

I just hope the government doesn’t waste anymore resources on foolish legal cases in their desire to push their law and order agenda!

Just one man’s opinion