Although I’m a Financial Consultant, I am also associated with the Canadian Initiatives on Elder Planning Studies as an Elder Planning Counselor. If you don’t think this article is appropriate for your website, let me know. I have others for the aging population as well.
April 30, 2009
Not enough support for aging population…an article from CanWest News Service
The federal government has been both a leader and a laggard in grappling with the challenges of Canada's rapidly aging population, according to the chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
The committee's final report, tabled on Tuesday, finds "serious gaps" in the health care, housing, transportation and support systems available to the ever-increasing ranks of seniors, and says Canada should be doing more to help them.
"The Canadian government must be a leader and . . . it's doing some of that, but it's also a laggard in its care of seniors," Liberal Senator Sharon Carstairs, chair of the committee, told reporters.
The report found that some seniors are living in isolation or inappropriate homes because of inadequate housing or transportation, while income security measures are not meeting the basic needs of the poorest among them. Support for caregivers is insufficient, the committee found, and many Canadians are forced to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for loved ones.
The pressure on the "sandwich generation" of people raising children while caring for aging parents is "horrific," Carstairs said. To that end, the committee advocates a Canada Pension Plan "dropout provision" that would allow those who leave work while caring for seniors to continue contributing to CPP, just as parents who leave work to care for a child do.
Among the report's recommendations are an "aggressive" public relations campaign to promote active aging and combat ageism, which Carstairs said sometimes means self-imposed ageism among seniors themselves.
"They take an attitude that they cannot do certain things because they are of a certain age, their families take an attitude that they cannot do certain things because are of a certain age," she said. "We have to rid ourselves of those stereotypical images, but at the same time we must encourage seniors to be more active so they themselves don't fall victim to their own concept of aging."
The government should help volunteer agencies create a mechanism to reimburse the out-of-pocket expenses for volunteers, the report suggests, as well as considering a tax credit for volunteer work.
The committee also calls on the federal government to take a leadership role in working with the provinces to address public safety and a "dignified" retirement from driving, and recommends the Canadian Institutes of Health Research fund work on mental competency.
"Seniors are often unjustly stripped of their rights because there's insufficient research and understanding about mental competency and mental capacity," Carstairs said.
On the health-care front, the committee advocates a supplementary transfer program to assist provinces and territories with older populations in covering increased health-care needs, as well as more funding to support "telemedicine," which can be used to link specialists or monitor patients with chronic conditions at home.
The Senate Special Committee on Aging was created in November 2006 and charged with examining the implications of an aging society in Canada. In more than two years of consultations with expert panels, questionnaires to seniors' organizations and discussions with citizens across the country, it looked at issues such as promoting active living, housing and transportation needs, financial security and retirement,
abuse, neglect and health care.
The first interim report, Embracing the Challenge of Aging, was released in March 2007, and the second, Issues and Options for an Aging Population, in March 2008.
The committee is disbanding now that it has tabled its report, Carstairs said, but she believes the generation that's driving the aging of Canada's population will ensure that its recommendations are fulfilled.
"We have the baby boomers, who will reach that magical (age of) 65 beginning in a year or two," she said. "They have been the most vocal generation demanding changes, demanding services, demanding appropriate delivery, and I have every hope and belief that they will put the appropriate pressures on government to make sure that the conditions in which they live their senior years are better and more enhanced than those that came before them."