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Fall 2016 | Healthy Aging: Supporting Seniors Health Care in Canada

This article originally appeared in the first issue of SenbridGe SEES in Fall 2016.


By 2024, seniors will account for 20.1% of the population, and people aged 85 and up make up the fastest growing age group in Canada. But Canada’s health care system was designed to work with a younger population and acute, short-term health care needs, but 75-80% of the elderly population has at least one chronic condition, putting pressure on the current health care system that will only increase.

The Canadian Medical Association report, released in September 2016, found that there are significant variations in quality and availability of care across the provinces and territories, as well as between urban and rural areas. Based on the current economic climate and the differing abilities of the provinces to grow their healthcare programs, this report raises the concern that disparities between provinces will only grow.

It’s important that government and service providers collaborate on affordable solutions to address wait lists and enable seniors to access complex, post acute and residential care when it is required and in the most suitable setting to achieve the best possible outcomes,” said Lois Cormack, President and CEO, Sienna Senior Living.

Colin Catherwood, V.P., Investments Canada, Welltower Inc. also believes collaboration is the path to success. “The system for seniors is in need of a makeover as we face the largest demographic shift in history – the aging of North America. We need to work collaboratively to create a better and more responsive system of healthcare and supportive services,” he said.

Recommendations from the Canadian Medical Associations’ report include:

• Promotion of a “healthy aging” strategy that supports holistic care and social integration, which will ultimately lower healthcare costs.

• A national strategy that establishes a consistent continuum of care, which would provide smoother transitions for seniors as their needs change by establishing objectives and benchmarks as well as providing access to everything from primary to long-term care.

• Ensuring timely access to appropriate specialty care to prevent unnecessary hospital stays and premature long-term care placement.

• Reducing wait times and long-term care costs by supporting innovation and improvement in home care offerings and amending the Caregiver and Family Caregiver tax credits to provide an increased amount of financial support for family caregivers.

• New approaches to funding and delivery arrangements for long-term care that take linguistic and cultural needs into account and address disparities in financial capabilities.

Increasing the focus on healthy aging, improving the integration of health and social services, and providing support for caregivers will reduce pressure on the Canadian healthcare system. This report urges the federal government to create a nationwide strategy as key to coordinating care across the provinces and ensuring that all Canadians have access to quality healthcare.


Also in this issue:

Lifestyle Design: Essential Elements in Seniors Housing

Maison West Vancouver Sets the Gold Standard for Senior Living

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