Robert Browning wrote, “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.” Yet, many Canadians do not share such optimism. Instead, they worry that our health-care system will not be able to support the country’s growing number of seniors, projected to reach nearly 10 million by 2036.
One of the many focuses of CNA’s National Expert Commission is the health challenges associated with aging and chronic disease and the concern that our health-care system cannot effectively address the emerging needs of older Canadians.
Our system is centred on acute care, with few pathways for the treatment of many chronic illnesses or for “normal” healthy aging. The result can become a series of episodic interventions — even in-patient admissions — when other, less expensive services could be more effective.
An aging population presents many complex challenges such as maintaining financial security and meeting health-care needs. We can look at this as opportunities to come up with new, innovative ways to address these challenges, notes Senator Sharon Carstairs, a former chair of the special Senate committee on aging and a member of CNA’s National Expert Commission. In a description of her speech for the University of British Columbia’s distinguished speaker series, Carstairs encourages people to embrace — rather than be overwhelmed by — the challenges presented by an aging population.
Innovative thinking includes focusing on health promotion, chronic disease prevention and management, and good end-of-life care. All can mitigate the challenges of normal aging — and nurses have much to contribute to this conversation!
Our commissioners and CNA staff are out and about now, speaking at conferences across Canada, hosting a series of round tables, meeting with government officials and listening to your ideas. We invite written submissions of stories, insights, research and innovations from nurses in our theme areas of better health, better care and better value.
Go to http://expertcommission.cna-aiic.ca to add your voice and help strengthen the Commission’s recommendations for positive transformation of our health-care system!
Michael J. Villeneuve, RN, M.Sc.
This column originally appeared in the October 2011 issue of Canadian Nurse. Reproduced with the permission of the Canadian Nurses Association.