More Needs To Be Done For Canada’s Seniors
By Dana Huggett, Live Your Life Homecare
With a senior population outnumbering any other age group for the first time, red flags about the current healthcare climate and its sustainability are being raised. According to a 2015 report by Statistics Canada, one in six Canadians, or about 16 per cent of the population, was over the age of 65. Projections estimate that number will climb to 20 per cent by the year 2024. The health care system as it is now cannot keep up with that demand.
One of the biggest challenges facing seniors and our healthcare system is dementia. Over 500,000 Canadians are living with dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada. In 15 years, that number will jump to almost one million Canadians. Once you factor in the over $10 million it costs to care for those living with dementia, the situation becomes even more dire. And future projections paint an expensive picture. By 2028, it is estimated that dementia will cost Canadians $153 billion.
On Sunday, May 7, the annual Walk for Alzheimer’s will take place across Canada. The 2017 White Rock, North Delta & Surrey Walk will start from Eaglequest Golf Course in Surrey. Currently $16,139 has been raised, which is just 23 per cent of their goal.
The need for fundraising is necessary in our current system, as the recent federal budget did not table much for a senior healthcare strategy. The Canadian Medical Association has voiced its disappointment on the lack of high quality care for seniors in Canada.
The organization has recommended developing a coordinated plan for home care for seniors so they can live at home longer. We agree with that.
Seniors are being released from hospitals much earlier than they should be and have nowhere to go for the care they need. Long term care facilities are an option, but come with big waitlists and are short-staffed with most patients receiving less than three hours of care per day.
With a proper home care plan, seniors would get the care they deserve. If seniors are waiting to get into a facility, nursing staff can help them at home. Otherwise they are left to fend for themselves or family members are sometimes obligated to become their caregivers. In 2012, 5.4 million Canadians were providing care to family or friends. If there was a plan in place, the burden on those families or friends could then be reduced.
Healthcare strategies should place more focus on preventative care as opposed to urgent or reactive care, which is what the government usually prepares for. This will allow supporting organizations supporting seniors more time to properly prepare for the significant growth in urgent care needs for the ageing population; thus, the strain on the emergency system will be less and more people will be able to live more comfortable lives at home.
Dana Huggett is the Clinical Care Manager at Live Your Life Homecare and a Registered Nurse with over 15 years of experience.