OTTAWA, May 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada will face a crisis in eldercare
within a few years unless policymakers act now to head it off, says a Carleton
Gabrielle Mason is a second-year PhD candidate in political science. In a
paper presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences taking
place at Ottawa's Carleton University, she says demographic changes combined
with an aging population are about to create a serious eldercare crunch in
On the one hand, she says, the population is aging rapidly. By 2015 -
only six years from now - there will be more people in Canada over the age of
65 than under the age of 15. And the proportion of seniors in the country is
expected to double over the next 25 years.
On the other hand, the traditional caregivers are less willing and able
to take on the job, for a variety of reasons.
Right now, 90 per cent of eldercare is done by informal caregivers, most
of whom are women. But these days most women are working full-time outside the
home and therefore less able to care for aged parents - particularly if they
are also still raising their own family.
There are fewer natural caregivers available in any give family because
people have been having fewer children. And divorce has left many seniors more
vulnerable by removing the support of a spouse.
These changes, coupled with the fact we're all living longer, mean we
have to rethink eldercare.
"Canadian policymakers have only a few years to address the issue of
eldercare," says Mason, "because demographic changes are quickly leading to a
Policymakers may not have to look very far. Mason says there are already
examples of successful eldercare programs, and cites the Veterans Independence
Program, or VIP, run by Veterans Affairs Canada.
VIP is, according to the Veterans Affairs website, a national homecare
program that helps veterans and other qualified individuals remain healthy and
independent in their own homes. Under VIP, people can for example receive
funds to help pay for such things as grass cutting or snow shovelling,
housekeeping, personal care, care and support by health professionals, and
Mason said some 94,500 Canadians receive VIP assistance now, and it has
proven its worth.
"A lot of people will argue that it will be costly to provide services
similar to those at VIP," says Mason. But she says programs like VIP eliminate
or delay institutionalization, and in that sense save money.
"Canadian citizens deserve and should expect good quality of life in
their elder years," says Mason. "A minimum level of care shouldn't be
considered a luxury."
Organized by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social
Sciences, Congress 2009 brings together over 8,000 researchers from Canada and
around the world.
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