December 10, 2023

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Calgary seniors produce play on mandatory medical assistance in dying to cope with rising health care costs – Calgary

A study commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association estimates the cost and demand for elder care will nearly double by 2031.

There’s no avoiding that an aging population will continue to contribute to spending growth. Or is there if we eliminate the problem?

A Calgary seniors’ acting group is exploring a shocking future for the elderly in a play called Bill C773.

The year is 2037. Health care costs are skyrocketing in Canada and the economy is in freefall.

To prevent further financial crisis, a law is passed requiring Mandatory Medical Assistance in Dying for all those who have reached their 85th birthday.

The numbers are real: Statistics Canada says the number of people aged 85 and older has doubled since 2001 and could triple by 2046.

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Louise Day is the president of the Seniors’ Acting Lab. The 72 year-old Calgary woman wrote the play to create a discussion both about MAID and health costs driven by an aging population.

“I believe a lot of people who are seniors know someone who has made the decision to go ahead with MAID, but no one talks about it,” Day said while at a rehearsal for the play on Friday.

“It’s a logical solution to a terrible situation and I think we’re going to see more of it in the future because people are starting to talk about it as an acceptable alternative,” Day said.

Chris Hetherington plays the senator who proposed the law requiring people to depart at 85. He says humans have a tendency to kick unpleasant subjects, whether climate change or the grey tsunami down the road.

“You cannot stand on the sidelines and be complacent and just say I hope it all work out,”  Heatherington said.

He said being part of the play and now being a senior has increased his awareness of  the issues the play raises.

“The requirement for us citizens to be engaged and have these conversations in an unblinking fashion — that’s our responsibility as citizens,” Heatherington said.

Day made it clear she is not advocating for medical assistance in dying but is hoping the play starts a conversation.

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“I’m very aware now of where I’m heading and I would hope that I would make some good choices. I would not want to be one of the ones sitting in a chair and drooling,” Day said.

Day believes “we are what we do” and in the activities that keep seniors going, like taking part in Calgary’s arts community.

A study published two years ago commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) estimates the cost and demand for elder care will nearly double by 2031.

The CMA warned that planning and investment by all governments “should be underway today to cope with this unprecedented demographic shift and the disruption to our current model of institutional care.”

The report said part of the solution lies with moving patients who are currently in hospitals to more appropriate care settings and by making better use of home care.

Bill C773 will be showing at the Vertigo Theatre in Calgary from June 8 – 11 as part of Senior Matters II. Two one act plays, “Bill C773” written by Louise Day and “The Replacement,” written by Clem Martini will be showing.

Seniors’ Week in Alberta is from June 5 to 11.


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