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Will Canada Be Able to Care for Its Aging Population? Part 2.

Three years ago, we asked whether Canada will be able to care for its seniors and identified potential solutions. This week, a new report issued by the Conference Board of Canada and funded by Canadian Medical Association, titled: “Meeting the Care Needs of Canada’s Aging Population[1]—July 2018, Robyn Gibbard”, released their findings and itemized exactly HOW it can be accomplished.

Healthcare needs more money for the aging population

Over the next decade, provincial and territorial governments will need to find an additional $93 billion to meet the care needs of our aging population[1].

As we last reported, Canada now has more people aged 65 and older than it does people aged 15 and younger. By 2050, it’s expected that one in four Canadians will be senior citizens.

A few years back, the Canadian Medical Association released the results of a poll that highlighted over 70% of respondents worried that they wouldn’t have the money to maintain their health as they aged. Even with one of the best health care systems in the world, the cost to our government agencies for senior care is over $12,000 per senior per year, in sharp contrast to the $2,500 annual cost per person for the rest of the population. In fact, even within the seniors population there are variances. Seniors 80 years of age and older cost the system over $18,000 per year, triple the cost of seniors aged 65 to 69.

A growing problem is that Federal health transfer payments to the provinces do not currently account for this major shift in demographics. This needs to be corrected today!

Medipense surmised that with the aging workforce, Canadians are also retiring earlier than they used to. The government’s tax base is shrinking, hence fewer tax dollars are available for public healthcare.  As we all know, the cost of acute care and the prevalence of chronic illness increase with age. So, what can be done to curb this trend?

Population aging will be most acute in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, and these regions will incur the largest relative increase in health care costs[1].

$167 billion is the current, public health care budget. This does not include the out of pocket cost to families and individuals, stress, loss of productivity and time nor the pharmacare burden on non-insured individuals.

Current estimates are that Provincial and territorial governments will need to find an additional $93 billion over the next 10‑years to care for our aging population[1].

Three steps to successfully reducing the cost of healthcare

  1. We can keep seniors healthier.
    Diet, exercise and medication adherence programs are proven lifesavers. Eating right and exercising help to also maintain mobility, stamina and balance. Studies have proven that even the simple act of taking medications as prescribed, on-time, significantly reduces hospital readmissions.
  2. We can help seniors remain at home longer.
    Seniors want to stay at home. Keeping seniors at home not only improves their quality of life, in addition it reduces the cost to the healthcare system. Published reports show that homecare saves the government 95% of the cost for Hospital care. We need to care for more people at home.
  3. We can develop and maximize the use of technology to treat patients closer to home.
    Finally, as a follow on to the homecare discussion, technology now enables homecare and virtual visits at a fraction of the cost of traditional appointment. As an example, over 70% of common non-emergency medical concerns can be diagnosed and treated remotely. Telemedicine is the next great frontier, and we need our governments to fully endorse and fund it.

We have a plethora of smart “Made in Canada” solutions available today to help reduce the cost of healthcare in Canada. Products like the RxPense, for the ultimate in medication management and adherence, Maple, for Canada-wide telemedicine, Hexoskin, for health sensing apparel and vitals measurements are perfect examples of Canadians working together to better Canadian healthcare.

There’s no getting around the fact that Canada’s population is getting older and that the country will have to deal with some significant challenges as a result. The obstacles aren’t insurmountable by any means, but they will require some thought and care if they’re going to be dealt with in a manner that benefits Canada’s senior citizens and its health care system.

[1] Meeting the Care Needs of Canada’s Aging Population—July 2018. Ottawa: The Conference Board of Canada, 2018.

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