By 2063, seniors will make up more than 25% of Canada’s population. This means for the first time in history elderly people will make up a bigger share of the population than children. More unique numbers reveal people who celebrated their 100th birthday between 2011 and 2016 increased by over 40%, the equivalent of over 8,000 Canadian centenarians. And the numbers are bound to increase with one in four Canadians expected to be over 65 years old by 2031.
These figures are not here to scare you, they are here to make you think of the future implications they will have for you, your loved ones and the Government. Aging populations are a pressing issue that everyone should be aware of.
Chronic conditions on the rise and feeding into the burden
Three out of five Canadians over the age of twenty live with a chronic disease, whether it’s mainly cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases. The threat does not stop here with four out of five being at risk of developing one in the future. In such circumstances, it is important for healthcare systems to join forces with home care services. Only by working together the future health of millions can rest safely knowing the right support is available should it be needed.
At the same time it’s important to focus on what’s happening. Approximately 4% of adults older than 65 years have been reported to have three or more chronic conditions and as high as 98% have been reported to have two or more chronic conditions. This may raise concerns but people living longer is nothing but good news, however it will mean additional support will be needed.
Home care and healthcare in Canada need to join forces
Canada’s healthcare system is not well prepared to deal with the fast-paced aging of populations. To promote healthy aging strategies there needs to be a focus on a mix of respect, physical activity, nutrition, mental health, injury and disease prevention, housing and social integration. Only by helping senior Canadians age well and have the appropriate resources can we ensure their wellbeing and overall health are maintained and the burden of disability and chronic disease is diminished.
Here, it’s important to stop and focus on senior home care. Growing aging populations demand an array of services, most commonly referred to as home care. This can mean anything from care giving, nursing, rehabilitation support or personal care. As living to 100 years old will become the norm within the next generation, home care and support will become even more critical in addressing complex care needs.
Canadians are also known to be extremely attached to their homes and even in the most difficult of times, they want to feel comfortable, safe and surrounded by loved ones every step of the way. Numbers estimate that in the next 28 years, nearly 3.3 million Canadians will need continuous care support. Expectations of home care will increase and services will need to become more personalized to individual needs.
A 2017 poll involving nurses providing long-term home care underlines the treatment gap even more. Nearly 90% of home care nurses report their workload having increased by over half (60%) just in the past three years. Simultaneously, latest available statistics suggest nearly 50% of Canadians aged 55 years or older have considered live-in support or home care in their old age. This means more and more people will have to face the difficult decision of considering professional help for yourself or for loved ones, and at the same time the increasing need of more personnel will become evident.
Given Canada’s aging demographic, it has now become urgent to identify gaps and improve current standard approaches to home care. Surprisingly, there are no studies that put in the spotlight the stigma and shame feelings many people feel when their situation becomes too much. Nevertheless, people who require home care have enough to deal with without having to worry about being judged. And this doesn’t refer merely to judgment passed by acquaintances, but also by the specialists offering care.
Accessing home care services has also been linked to a higher quality of life. According to the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, new discoveries risen from an initiative that moved chronic care from the hospital to the patient’s home resulted in transformational impacts on how they rated their quality of life. In the case of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, people who received treatment in their homes reduced hospital re-admissions by 64% and emergency department visits by 52%, while also reporting improvements in their daily lives.
Canadians less confident about home care: how to fix this
Millions of Canadians have to juggle their daily demands of work and home and as well care for someone who is disabled, ill or aging. Managing everything on their own can put a lot of burden on their shoulders and it’s only natural to seek help. In other cases, people live miles apart from the family that needs help and things become even more difficult to manage.
The complexity of the situation demands professional support. However sadly, this year, an Ontario CARP member poll uncovered some gloomy results in terms of how people feel regarding home care. When asked about how confident they feel should they or a loved one required home care, about 68% don’t believe they will receive the necessary home care services. With over half of respondents (60%) strongly stating the need for trained home care workers is inadequately supplied and as many as 28% considering the rotation in staff being overwhelming. This shouldn’t always be the case.
Where to go for help?
Take for instance Medway Healthcare which provide everything from companionship, personal care, nursing care or live-in care. To meet such concerns, they ensure that not only staff members perform to the highest standards possible, but also promise to assigning one professional and one professional only to every case. This way not only they ensure their clients have the chance to age at home, safely and with dignity, but they also improve the lives of families and work to build solid relationships.
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