SSM (Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism), over the last 3 years, has done research that gathered information from older adults in SK and produced reports that communicated this information widely. Our experience shows there is little recognition that older adults range in age from 60 to 100+. They are a very diverse population who contribute to their communities in a variety of ways as volunteers, caregivers, mentors, taxpayers, and voters. In order to support and enable these older adults we must recognize the continuum of needs as they age. Our research shows that, without a doubt, older adults want to age in place in their own communities.
Rethinking, reshaping and rebuilding after the pandemic provides us with opportunities to better support older adults. Different stages of aging require different methods to support and enable:
Those living independently may require some practical supports such as assistance with:
- Yard care
- Minor home renovations
- Those with particular medical and/or personal care needs:
- Consistent, trusted home care workers
- Expanded in home services to cover diverse needs e.g. physiotherapy, education on managing conditions, ostomy and wound care, ataxia
- Those caring for family members:
- Educational support
- In home respite care
- Those requiring residential care:
- A community model with a variety of levels of care and opportunities for residents to participate
- Recognition that these facilities are people’s homes
- Better staffing levels and training
- A shift in understanding of staff roles from medical maintenance to supporting quality of life for each resident
Whatever their stages of life, we need to recognize that older adults have the right to make their own decisions, including where and how they will live, to the best of their ability.
Changes in the way we do things is what older adults want. The great news is that it’s also more cost effective. The recent Queen’s University study “Aging Well” demonstrated that providing quality home support was one-third the cost of annual institutional care where costs exceeded $60,000.00 annually per resident.
We need to be persistent yet resilient, gathering allies and working to gain momentum throughout the entire Saskatchewan population. We want to emphasize that we will collaborate with provincial and municipal governments. We are offering valuable information that emphasizes that governments must pivot! Spending dollars on more hospital-like LTC facilities is ineffective. Instead, allocate our human and financial resources effectively on the many choices that will enable older adults to age in place with quality of life.
Right Care! Right Time! Right Place! Right Now!!!