“About 75 per cent of Canadians over 65 are reliable voters, meaning they voted in the last federal, provincial and municipal elections, according to the Statistics Canada General Social Survey (and nearly 90 per cent vote in federal elections). Targeting older voters is clearly an efficient way to campaign.”
So what is being done?
The proposed budget includes some gains for the older voter. As more of us are getting older and with the decline of the growth rate, who will be looking after us? 90% of seniors live in the community; most having care provided by an unpaid family caregiver. (Canada’s savings is estimated at 25 billion a year). (Who Cares and How Much, Hollander, Lui and Chappell, Health Care Quartlerly, Vol 12, No 2, 2009)
With dementia being called an epidemic (Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society), aging experts have made numerous recommendations in order to be better prepared). The Globe and Mail presented a series on this issue and presented recommendations for a national action plan. These included:
• Keeping people in their homes for as long as possible- let’s face it, most people want to be able to live and die in their own homes;
• Make sure institutional care is available and appropriate: Yes, there is a shortage of options; certainly a shortage of retirement residences that offer dementia care exclusively. A few models exist, often geared towards those in the early to moderate stages;
• Train specialists to find proper care for each patient: client centered approach- dealing with a shortage of family doctors and even greater shortage of geriatricians (.44 percent of Canadian doctors who specialize in geriatrics (Globe and Mail, March 25, 2011);
• Delay the decline with early diagnosis and prompt treatment: Yes, this speaks to our shortage of family doctors in general and geriatricians specifically;
• Guarantee family caregivers the help they need: The proposed budget includes a new Family Caregiver Tax Credit, a 15-per-cent non-refundable credit on an amount of $2,000. Note: purchasing care from an agency, the average hourly rate of $23.00 plus. Ms. R. Meandro from the Alzheimers Society of Canada was quoted in the Globe and Mail (March 25, 2011) that “this tax break amounts to just over $5 a day”.
• Teach Canadians to keep their brains in good health
(Is our reliance on smart phones such a good thing with all phones stored in the phone’s memory, rather than our own?);
• Increase research investment significantly: At the beginning of the year, the federal government pledged $8.6 million dollars in new research funds to help combat Alzheimer’s disease. According to the CBC the funding has been allocated towards 44 research projects across Canada http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2011/01/28/alzheimer-funding.html?ref=rss
It’s a start……Audrey Miller