The increase in the elderly population as the Boomer Generation ages (those born between 1946 and 1964) is well documented. Census Canada indicates that the elderly population will increase from 16.9% today to 23% by 2031. More significantly is the increase in those living to 85 and older. This latter point will result in a doubling of those suffering from Dementia (source: Alzheimer’s Society). Community support resources, hospitals, long term care and retirement homes have already begun to feel the impact of this increase today.
There are two scenarios that may result. The first will be the need to substantially increase the available care options for this growing client — additional and specialized community supports, an increase in the number of LTC beds, coinciding with an increase in the number of Retirement Homes servicing those with mild to moderate dementia. In each case, the success in caring for and supporting those with dementia will be determined by the skill set of those working with this population. To be successful, all organizations require:
1) Specialized education and training for its staff.
2) Thorough and ongoing functional assessments that will adapt care to match the change in abilities and symptoms as the disease progresses.
3) Accurate and thorough documentation using a comprehensive clinical software to meet this need.
However, there is another scenario that may have a counter impact on the projected demand for additional resources - Bill C-14, the approved legislation on Medical Assistance in Dying. Presently, there are significant restrictions on an individual who requests the right to die. The person must be able to make the request at the time they wish it to occur and also able to understand what that request means.
Will there be a time in the not so distant future when an individual can make the request in advance of specific circumstances i.e. incapacitation due to dementia? Would a significant segment of the Boomer Generation take advantage of this opportunity should it arise? If they would, what does that mean for the need to substantially increase the resources for this client? Tomorrow will be soon upon us to answer these questions.
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