Baby boomers call for national seniors care strategy
Marlene Leung, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, August 18, 2014 8:50AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 18, 2014 4:40PM EDT
Nearly all Canadian baby boomers are calling for a pan-Canadian seniors care strategy to address their specific health-care needs, according to a report from the Canadian Medical Association.
In the CMA's 2014 National Report Card on health issues, 95 per cent of Canadians aged 45 years and over identified the need for a national strategy for seniors care.
The report also found that 81 per cent of these Canadians are concerned with the quality of health care they can expect in the future. As well, 78 per cent are concerned about their ability to afford quality home and long-term care during their retirement.
CMA President Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti said the concern over the future of seniors care may stem from the high percentage of baby boomers that are currently caring for an elderly family member.
According to the CMA report, about 26 per cent of baby boomers are currently providing care for an elderly relative, which may be giving them a first-hand look at the state of seniors health services and facilities, he said.
"What they're finding is that the system is not really designed to take care of seniors," Francescutti told CTV's Canada AM on Monday. "So as the population ages, they're concerned that they personally won't have access to the kind of care that they've come to expect."
The report was based off the results of an Ipsos-Reid poll that also found the following:
- 76 per cent of poll respondents who haven't yet retired are concerned about affording health-care services that aren't covered by insurance
- Among the Canadians providing care to an elderly relative, 64 per cent reported experiencing a high level of stress because of it
- 71 per cent of Canadians providing care to an elderly relative said the responsibility conflicted with their personal life and work
- 61 per cent of older Canadians "lack confidence" that hospitals and long-term care facilities will be able to handle the health needs of seniors
- 80 per cent of older Canadians are not confident they will be able to access health services intended for seniors
Generally, concern was more acute among the younger poll respondents compared to those aged 75 years and older.
The telephone poll was conducted between July 17 and 24, with 1,000 Canadians aged 45 years and older taking part. It is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Francescutti said the results of the poll should serve as a "warning" to policy makers and politicians.
"We have to re-orient ourselves to better serve the needs of our aging population," he said.
He cautioned, however, that careful planning and consideration for resource allocation must go into developing such a strategy.
"The last thing we want is a beautiful piece of paper that's our (seniors) strategy and nothing is acted on," he said.
In prepared remarks to the conference, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said the federal government is committed to working with the provinces and territories to ensure Canadians of all ages have access to high quality health care.
The government has invested millions of dollars into research on age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, she noted.
The economic cost of treating these illnesses in the future is estimated at billions of dollars per year, she said.
“But the cost to family members and caregivers and communities is immeasurable. As Canada’s population ages, we need to better understand how to deal with neurological diseases.”
Francescutti noted that politicians may benefit from considering the health needs of Canada's seniors.
He highlighted a CMA poll from earlier this year that surveyed 26 of key ridings from the last federal election. Among those ridings, nearly 60 per cent said they would support another party if that party did not have a strong seniors care strategy.
"It's something that's so obvious and so in front of us, but we need to heed the warning very carefully," he said.
Francescutti said in a statement: “We should not accept that a country as prosperous as Canada has such a large portion of its population living in fear for the future as they age.”