Health care and aging population

The world’s population is getting older and with boomers being one of the largest growing demographics in Canada, the trend brings with it a new set of challenges for provinces.

One major issue is health care. According to government statistics, the 1.9 million seniors living in Ontario make up about 14.6 per cent of the province’s population. However, they account for almost half of all heath-care spending.

As a result, the Ontario government is now looking at ways to ensure senior citizens have access to health professionals who are able to provide them with care specific to their needs. The goal of Ontario’s action plan for heath care is to keep the demographic healthy and out of hospitals.

Health Minister Deb Matthews said at a press conference on Tuesday in Toronto that the government is taking steps to allow every senior Ontarian a primary caregiver, nurse or family doctor if they need one.

The government is already committed to increasing investments in community and health-care services for 2013 and over the next two years by an average of four per cent.

However, these changes only highlight the importance of maintaining one’s health throughout the years. Exercise, diet and general lifestyle can possibly be the single most deciding factor on how expensive health care will be in decades to come.

The number of seniors living in Ontario will double over the next 20 years. If age-specific costs remain what they are today and those figures were applied to the 2030 population, health costs would increase by $24 billion – 50 per cent more than today.

With health care consuming 42 cents of every dollar spent on provincial programs, it goes without saying that Ontario’s action plan is right on time.

Seniors Strategy Plan:
(pulled from Ontario’s “Let’s Make Healthy Change Happen” document,

1)    An expansion of house calls.

2)     More access to home care through an additional 3 million Personal Support Worker hours for seniors in need.

3)    Care Co-ordinators that will work closely with health-care providers to make sure the right care is in place for seniors recovering after hospital stays to reduce readmissions.

4)    The Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit, which will support seniors in adapting their home to meet their needs as they age, so they can live independently at home longer.

5)    Empower the Local Health Integration Network (LHINs) with greater flexibility to shift resources where the need is greatest, such as home or community care.