As we move forwards over the next ten years or so here in Canada and even more so in British Columbia, we are quickly heading for significant challenges caused by; the ageing of the baby boomer generation; limited publicly funded care home beds; a shortage of healthcare providers; tighter financial budgets in health care; and reduced disposable income of our elders.
These challenges offer us all an opportunity to develop real community that can provide the necessary support many of us will need.
Here are some of the issues contributing to this challenge;
One and a,
- As a percentage of the total population those over the age of 65 years old represented 14% of the population in 2010 some 7 years ago. Soon, meaning in four years, the percentage will have risen to 18% on its way to 25% in the year 2036.
- There are currently over five million Canadians over the age of 65 and 850,000 of them live in British Columbia.
- Our annual rate of death in Canada is 257,000 per annum heading for 450,000 in eighteen years while here in BC we will see our death rate climb from 33,000 to in excess of 55,000 over the same time period.
In an article written for the Globe and Mail, Don Drummond warns;
“Meanwhile, this growing bulge of seniors needs and demands more from their governments – most notably, health care and income support programs, such as Old Age Security. Health care spending in particular increases significantly for people 65 and older.
The result is that boomers are putting intense and growing pressure on government budgets. The provinces in particular generally aren’t prepared for what’s coming, warns Don Drummond, a former senior federal finance official and Toronto-Dominion Bank chief economist.”
Two and a,
- Here in British Columbia we spend $17.1 billion on healthcare – yes that’s right 41% of our total annual provincial budget.
- $8.5 billion annually is spent on 5% of the population in the final 10 months of life.
- Publicly funded long-term care already has wait lists of up to 18 months and will ultimately be the resting place for only those with the most complex healthcare needs.
- Approximately 80% of all seniors in BC own their own home leaving 20% or 170,000 as renters. We have roughly 28,000 publicly funded long-term care beds in BC to meet the needs of our rapidly growing elder population, and a wait list of 18 to 24 months that is comprised of some 1,600 seniors at this point in time.
- Over the next decade there will be a migration of seniors to less expensive rural areas such as Osoyoos, BC where by 2030 eight out of ten residents will be over the age of 65.
- One third of us will be caring for both our own children and our ageing parents at the same time – the sandwich generation.
“Unless the scheme for financing this program is reformed, we can expect the taxpayer contribution to increase to $2.7 billion by 2035, and more when accounting for future cost increases. This trajectory threatens to crowd out funds for other health care needs and further constrain the rationing of access to subsidized long-term care.
The backlog of seniors occupying acute care hospital beds while awaiting placement in subsidized residential care facilities imposes additional complications. An acute care bed costs $1,200 per day versus $200 per day for a residential care bed. This situation causes undue expenditures to the total health care budget, hospital overcrowding, and inefficient use of health care resources.”
(IAN BENOIT, KATHERINE SCHILT AND JANINE TWIST, SPECIAL TO THE VANCOUVER SUN 09.09.2014)
“People now facing the challenges of having their senior parents placed in long-term care should look ahead with trepidation. Unless the financing and access problems are resolved soon, they will face even steeper barriers to obtaining care when their own time comes.”
Families, neighborhoods, and communities will be particularly hard pressed to cope with the demands our ageing population will be bringing us and this is a ‘when’ not an ‘if’.
The answers lie not in constructing more residences, more hospices, or more buildings. The solutions lay in teaching and training people how to care for their loved ones, how to care for themselves, and how to care for their neighbors as end of life approaches a family member. Teaching people how to find their own resources, and use their existing and new skills, and find support they will need to care for their ageing family members will be paramount. We will be unable to outsource the care for our loved ones that we have fallen into the habit of consuming.
We will need to create community education programs that teach people how to:
- Source hospital beds and equipment
- Renovate the family home
- Access funding and grants
- Administer pain medication
- Change and bath an adult
- Take good self-care
- Support family members or friends caring for an ageing loved one
- Talk about dying and death
- Get end of life paperwork complete
- Prepare for death and after death care
- Work with a funeral director
Alive in Death Community Training has been developed to meet these unique end of life needs. This training is a blend of an eight-module online training program plus a weekend hands on workshop that links the online modules to the hands on skills we may need to care for a loved one at the end of their life. It is these basic skills and primary knowledge that will support our families, neighbors, and communities as we walk along this path with our ageing elders with more grace, dignity and humanness.
If you or your organization is interested in providing this training for your community please contact us at Stephen@embraceyourdeath.com or call Stephen at 1-604-328-7054. Our team will be happy to co-create a weekend workshop that will meet the unique needs of your community.
We can die better!
Warmly and with gratitude
Stephen Garrett, MA
“For example, one reason that people remain stuck in ALC purgatory for so long is that care facilities can cherry-pick the patients they accept, so they try to avoid those who require more care, such as those with dementia and multiple chronic illnesses.
In other words, those most in need of institutional care often have the most difficulty accessing it.
“Most Canadians think that care is going to be there when they need it, but that’s not always the case,” Ms. Joudrey says.”
Thousands of Canadians languish in limbo as they wait for long-term care
ANDRÉ PICARD – PUBLIC HEALTH REPORTER
HALIFAX — The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Dec. 23, 2016 3:16PM EST