As we age and become more fragile, our needs can become too great to stay where we would prefer to be – in our own homes. Acute care hospitals must confront the problem every day of discharging elderly patients who are no longer able to stay in an unsupported environment. Often, the only solution is a cold, hospital-like environment where residents occupy “beds”.
Verena Menec, a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences in the College of Medicine at the University of Manitoba, focuses her research on aging. In this thoughtful blog post, she suggests that we need to rethink the way older people are housed, moving away from an institutional model (where those frail elderly stuck in the acute care hospital because there is no place to send them are known as “bed blockers”) and toward a model based on the idea of “home” and “village”. Words influence the way we think. When it comes to public policy that is right for our parents, our grandparents and ourselves, words matter.