Three years ago, I posted an article on LinkedIn titled Will Future Canadian¬†Seniors Experience a Better Quality of Life?¬† The reprint below certainly indicates that the answer to my question has been, sadly, “NO.” There still is no National Health Strategy for Seniors. During the pandemic there has been a high death rate in care homes for seniors. Seniors are experiencing more isolation, and reduced resources to survive financially.

Reprint of Article, published in LinkedIn, January 2018:

In a Senate committee meeting, May 2017, Senator Sharon Carstairs warned that “Canada is woefully unprepared to deal with its ageing demographic.”

“Canadian workers won’t be able to carry the financial burden of the country’s ageing population,” warned a report by the C.D.Howe institute.

Does this grab your attention? It certainly does mine. As a senior and concerned citizen of Canada, the statistics are alarming regarding the shift in structure of the population. Will Government programs be able to survive the expected tax burden with the increase in the numbers of seniors in the population?

A Canadian Medical Association report indicates that “Canadians over 65 make up 15 per cent of the population, but consume approximately 45 percent of health-care spending.”

The Government of Canada is considering how to design and implement a National Strategy for Senior’s Health Care, not only to increase effectiveness and integration of care across programs, but also to effect cost efficiencies as a result.

IS THE ASSUMPTION ONE OF ENHANCEMENT OR DECLINE?

There are 2 ways of looking at the issue:

1. Positively Consideration of new programs that anticipate enhancement of health and productivity maintenance. What programs can decrease dependence on the health care system and therefore decrease reliance on government taxes to support?

2. Negatively Consideration of needed increases across all services depending on the assumption of decline.

Recently I have been reviewing articles and documents regarding the progress being made with the government’s initiative to design a National Strategy for Seniors’ Health in Canada.

I notice that there is inclusion of well-being programs and there have been many innovative programs started in areas across Canada. But the focus is not there as much as it should be especially with regard to the maintenance of senior health, self-esteem , valid potential for productivity , and mobility and access to socialization experiences; all these are factors in prevention of isolation, dementia, and interest and energy for life.

Canada is a cold country for much of the year. What attention has been brought to bear on this reality in how seniors can maintain health and therefore not overburden the tax system?

Raising the retirement age has been suggested as a way to keep seniors longer in the work force and thus maintain their contribution to the tax base. This seems a shortsighted view which for many seniors would not enhance their work life or promote new learning or creative activities, both of which are factors in healthy aging.

FOOD FOR CREATIVE THOUGHT

How can disruptive or creative thinking be applied to the recommendations for wellness and prevention programs? This kind of thinking can lead to ideas for options for seniors to choose creative and attractive life environments which would support continued mobility, engagement and socialization, and better health as a result.

1. Designed Elder Work Sites: Environments that are creatively designed for elder employment so seniors can continue to contribute. and their wisdom is not lost. The recommendation to raise retirement age can allow seniors to work for more years but if it is just more of the same how does this support new learning, creative

2. Living Outside Canada,  fewer restrictions regarding taxes and health care services applied to persons living outside the country full or part-time

– people living in a warm climate for part of the year or all year are healthier and not a burden on the health care system

– persons living outside the country may be able to support themselves on much less income than is possible for them in Canada if they are on pensions that do not keep pace with the cost of living rise in Canada

– mobility, productivity, and valid contribution skill-wise, as well as social engagement, can be possible for seniors in a warm climate, thus allowing them to maintain mental acuity and avoid isolation which is a contributing factor in the incidence of dementia

CALL TO ACTION

It is time for more of Canada’s people to be actively involved in this discussion, especially the seniors themselves and those approaching this phase of life. Women in senior positions in health care and well-being programs have a great perspective to add. Let’s hear from YOU.

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