Life After COVID
The following narrative is a brief glimpse into the future (or past). It is a summary of what we have learned, needed to prepare and must do to make seniors lives better. Imagine this was written on January 1, 2021.
The pandemic is over. Vaccinations have reached 90% of the world’s population and continue. Economies are recovering; employment is growing. A new baby boom in underway.
What have we learned?
A roller coaster ride for the past year, we have learned so much about the virus, how it is transmitted, spread and defeated. As a society, we have awakened to a new reality. We have changed governments, politicians and allegiances. We have learned to respect science, to study harder and to collaborate successfully.
- Masks reduce the spread and save lives.
- Washing and sanitizing saves lives.
- Social distancing saves lives.
- Moving quickly saves lives.
- Quarantining save lives.
- Healthcare is a fundamental human right.
- Mental Healthcare is a fundamental human right.
- The young can infect the old.
- The more chronic conditions you suffer, the more adversely affected you become.
- Politicians who listened to their science experts, faired much better than those who did not.
- Countries must be self-sufficient with medical supplies.
- Viruses spread quickly and do not respect borders.
- Selfishness, opportunism and corruption survive pandemics.
- Seniors residences and care facilities were like prisons, having the highest rate of infection and death.
- Public policy was heartbreaking, keeping families separated and those in most need separated from their primary caregivers.
- It takes a village to cure a pandemic.
- Everyone needs a basic living wage.
- Everyone needs a basic place to live.
- Personal Support Workers(PSW) and Caregivers are greatly underpaid.
- We do not need to shop often.
- Our basic needs are simpler than we thought.
- Amazon-like retailers excelled.
- Sarah Cooper brings hope amidst despair
How will we prepare for the next pandemic?
It is inevitable that another pandemic will occur. The question of whether we will learn from history, so as not to repeat the past, remains.
- We need to better educate our children on sanitization.
- We need to better educate our politicians, or appoint health officers with real authority.
- We need to ensure low income housing is available in proportion to the those who will stop working/lose their jobs.
- We need a livable, basic income level, guaranteed to all in need.
- We need to keep a supply of masks and sanitizer at home, and use them whenever sick.
- We need to reduce our reliance on hospitals emergency rooms, clinics and doctors offices and expand the use of digital health tools, telemedicine and ePrescribing. In person visits should be only when essential or personal treatment is needed.
- Governments should offer subsidies and incentives for populations to own digital heath and monitoring devices, ensure WiFi is ubiquitous and a tablet, smart device or other computer type device is available.
- Caregivers must maintain contact with those under their care, regardless of the pandemic. Caregivers are the first responders for our aging population and should be trained and rewarded accordingly.
- Seniors must become a priority. Seniors must be allowed to live with dignity. Seniors must be allowed to maintain close family connections, in person and digitally.
- We need to keep seniors at home, longer.
- We need more at-home care agencies.
- Doctors need training and support for remote patient monitoring and telemedicine.
- Patients must have access to their health data, secure and online.
- Patients have the right to authorize (and revoke) others to access their data.
- Families come first. Politicians or administrators must ensure safe family reunification is a priority.
- Statistical data must be reported, collected and made available on demand to everyone.
Making Seniors Lives Better
Our seniors(and their families) having received a wake up call, now realize that remaining at home as long as possible is paramount to the success of their vitality. To remain at home longer, we need to revitalize the at-home care market. We can start by training service providers and renovators to better adapt existing homes and make them more accessible. We need to pay caregivers better. We need pharmacists to maintain closer links and to provide additional services to their patients.
Doctors need billing codes and encouragement for supporting remote patient monitoring and telemedicine. Since the old house-call has been replaced by a Telemedicine session, automation can reduce the need for at-home or remote visits. Let’s facilitate medication reminders and alerts to caregivers when this does not occur. Let’s promote telemedicine for better and emergency mental health support. There is no reason psychologists and psychiatrists should not be available on demand, regardless of physical location, and paid accordingly.
Our rapidly aging population is in a crisis mode, trying to cope with ill-run programs and misguided administrative decisions. Allowing PSW’s to work at multiple care facilities in the same day, barring family visits and caregiving, severe shortages of nurses, orderlies, aids, support workers and professional caregivers has resulted in the death of our loved ones throughout the world. We must learn from our mistakes and ensure seniors become our priority and a model for caring for our fellow human beings.
Cumulative Confirmed Cases world map courtesy of Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, Coronavirus Resource Center