• Gaynor Lowndes

Aged-Care In Canada


Very often, the issues faced by the aged and those who care for them are quite similar, regardless of geographic location. You could take the issues faced by the aged and their carers in a particular country, replace the country name with another, and the issues would mostly fit, like gloves to hands. While the issues are almost universal, it is always worth keeping an eye out for news from around the world, so that we can familiarize ourselves with the local peculiarities that do differentiate us, and learn from the successes (or mistakes) of others. In this edition, we want to take a look at some issues in Canada’s care system.


Canada’s ageing population


One of the biggest issues related to aged-care in Canada is what is termed “greying Canada” – the Canadian population is ageing and the demand for care of seniors is projected to double by 2031.  But as Canada’s population ages, government policies are increasingly geared towards encouraging the elderly

to remain at home, with the country’s healthcare system moving more care into the home and community. Most seniors too, want to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, and the various provincial health programmes are on board with this option. This, on its own, is not a bad thing, except that it places increasing strain on family members as caregivers, who themselves have young children and are in the middle of their careers. Canada being a country of immigrants further complicates the issue, as this means that many people have left behind their family and community support networks, which places further strain and stress on those family members who are present in Canada. The result of all this is that there is more and more reliance on external care givers. However, the cost of care is extremely high and this exorbitant cost of hiring caregivers is driving more and more people to combine as many technological advances as they can with having a caregiver for their loved ones. That way, they can reduce the number of hours paid for but still watch over their loved ones. 


Technology as a bridge


Some technologies, like the Close-to-Home™ system, serve the purpose of unobtrusively remaining with seniors around the clock in their own homes at a fraction of the cost it would take to put them in a retirement facility or pay for regular home care. Sensors placed around a senior’s home link to a central online portal which unobtrusively collects data about the senior’s behaviours and can notify their children or a caregiver via phone or emails when something is amiss, such as if the power goes out or he or she forgets to take their medication, or doesn’t get out of bed.  Other technologies like SmartSoles™ helps in the care of seniors with dementia. In the later stages of dementia, caregivers may feel they need to be with the person around the clock, so they don’t get lost. SmartSoles™ is a smart GPS technology, which comes in the form of pendants, watches and, smart shoe insoles that are inserted into the user’s shoes like regular insoles. It helps the caregiver see when the person leaves predefined boundaries, exactly which direction he or she has gone and at what speed, and can pinpoint their exact location. 


Conclusion

There’s a relationship between policy and the kind of care that families can afford for their loved ones. Canada’s policies are more geared towards in home care, and as families realize the enormous strain this places on them if they choose to provide the care themselves, they are relying more on external caregivers, but also tapping into various technological advancements to help mitigate costs. These technologies, in addition to being a financial help to families, also make the work of caregivers easier as they have greater visibility of the seniors in their care. 

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