Aging: The New Frontier - Promoting a Strong Social Work Presence for the Aging Century
The following is a selection of PowerPoint slides that highlight key points presented by Linda Jackson in her workshop (one of 13 concurrent sessions) at the OASW Provincial Conference on November 26, 2010.
Canada’s population is aging. Policy-makers and baby boomers are preparing for a future where there will be more expectations and demands for services than ever before. The new senior wants to remain active and healthy for as long as possible. More and more frail seniors are living in the community and expecting innovative approaches to assist them to remain independent. More than two million Canadians identify themselves as informal caregivers. These caregivers are providing critical support to seniors wishing to remain in their own homes. Social workers are poised to make a difference through policy development, health system planning and in our direct delivery of services, yet new social workers remain reluctant to commit to a career focused in Aging.
This workshop reviewed current trends as well as leading social work practices and opportunities which may be emerging for the profession. Participants were invited to contribute to a dialogue regarding mechanisms to further engage social workers in the exciting field of Gerontological Social Work practice.
Demographics (2006 Census)
- Of the 31.6 million people who live in Canada, 4.3 million (14%) are 65 years and older.
- Within Canada's senior population, 73% are between the ages of 65 and 79 years.
- More than one-quarter (27%) are 80 years and older.
- Immigrants account for approximately 28% of the senior Canadian population.
- Aboriginal peoples account for 1% of Canada's senior population.
- Most seniors (92%) live in private homes.
- The remaining 8% reside elsewhere including long-term care homes/facilities, assisted living facilities and retirement residences.
- The majority of seniors (80%) live in private households in urban settings across Canada.
- Although more seniors are living in urban areas versus rural areas, they represent a larger proportion of the Canadian rural population.
- Although seniors are often impacted by multiple physical health issues, such as chronic conditions and reduced mobility and functioning, many feel healthy and are willing to take action to improve their health (2009 Canadian Community Health Survey).
- 44% of seniors perceived their health to be excellent or very good. In the same year, 37% of seniors reported they had taken some action to improve their health, such as increasing their level of physical activity (71%), losing weight (21%) or changing their eating habits (13%).
- Many seniors are affected by a combination of chronic conditions.
- In 2009, 25% of Canadian seniors aged 65 to 79 years and 37% of those aged 80 years and older reported having four or more of a wide-ranging list of chronic conditions.
- Vulnerabilities of the immune system and some medications can make seniors more susceptible to infectious diseases such as seasonal influenza, West Nile virus and health care-associated infections.
- One-quarter of Canadian seniors and 70% of Aboriginal seniors not living on a reserve reported they often have difficulty with one or more activities including hearing, seeing, communicating, walking, climbing stairs, bending, learning or other similar activities.
- In all age groups, women were more likely than men to report requiring assistance with activities of daily living (ADL) such as meal preparation, housework, heavy household chores and personal care.
- Stress can occur related to a deterioration of physical health, isolation and loneliness, physical inactivity and chronic physical conditions.
- Seniors caring for seniors are more likely to report psychological than physical health consequences.
- Senior women are more likely than senior men to report that they sometimes or nearly always feel stressed with helping others, trying to meet other responsibilities and finding time for themselves (31% of women compared to 19% of men).
Four potential intervention scenarios to turn the tide based on evidence:
- Increasing Physical Activity
- Delay Onset of Dementia
- Caregiver Training, Support
- System Navigation
- Income is known to be an important determinant of health, with those living on low-income – including seniors – at greater risk of poor health.
- In 2008, 6% of Canadian seniors were living on low-income. Rates have dropped since 1978, following the earlier introduction of retirement and financial income supplement programs in Canada.
Few seniors who are receiving publicly funded long-term home care are able to:
- Manage alone.
- In a sample of 131,000 home care clients age 65 and older, only 2% were coping without an informal caregiver.
- Caregivers provided emotional support along with a wide range of services, from meal preparation to medication management, shopping, dressing, bathing and toileting.
- Self-Management of Chronic Conditions
- Counselling with Individuals, Couples and Families
- Group Work
- Family Health Teams
- Work with Caregivers
- Case Management
- Navigation and Referral
- Community Support Agencies
- Services for Frail Seniors
- Long-Term Care and Assistive Housing
- Health Promotion
- Advocacy Organizations
- Disease-Specific Organizations
- Governmental Departments
- Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia in Canada on Canadian Society, Final Report, Alzheimer Society project, 2009.
- Canadian Institute for Health Information: Supporting Informal Caregivers: The Heart of Home Care for Seniors with Alzheimer's Disease and Other Forms of Dementia. August 2010.
- The Chief Public Health Officer's Report on The State of Public Health in Canada, 2010: Growing Older — Adding Years to Life
- National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE) (Tel.: 416-978-0545 Fax: 416-978-4771 www.nicenet.ca
1The Chief Public Health Officer's Report on The State of Public Health in Canada, 2010: Growing Older — Adding Years to Life
22009 Canadian Community Health Survey
3The Chief Public Health Officer's Report on The State of Public Health in Canada, 2010: Growing Older — Adding Years to Life
4The Chief Public Health Officer's Report on The State of Public Health in Canada, 2010: Growing Older — Adding Years to Life
5The Chief Public Health Officer's Report on The State of Public Health in Canada, 2010: Growing Older — Adding Years to Life
6Rising Tide: The Impact of Denentia in Canada on Canadian Society, Final Report, Alzheimer Society project, 2009.
7The Chief Public Health Officer's Report on The State of Public Health in Canada, 2010: Growing Older — Adding Years to Life
8Canadian Institute for Health Information: Supporting Informal Caregivers: The Heart of Home Care for Seniors with Alzheimer's Disease and Other Forms of Dementia. August 2010.
Linda Jackson, MSW, RSW, has been practicing as a social worker in health and aging for the past 25 years. She is currently the Executive Director of Community and Ambulatory Services at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care overseeing the outpatient, community and ambulatory services. Linda has held progressive positions as the Director of Social Work at Baycrest and at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Executive Director of the Anne Johnston Health Station in Toronto. Linda has mentored many social work students, and has been a lecturer at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. She has volunteered on many community task groups, committees and boards including Yorkminster Park Meals on Wheels, the Toronto District Health Council, SPRINT and the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly. Currently, she serves as Co-Chair for several Aging-at-Home Initiatives, as well as being the social work representative on the Health Professionals Advisory Committee with the Toronto Central LHIN. In 2009, Linda was given the Inspirational Leadership Award by OASW during National Social Work Week. She is an active member on the Association's Health Care and Public Relations Advisory Groups.