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Seniors' care now a dominant Canadian concern: CMA survey

A new survey reveals that the CMA's concern about the impact a greying wave of baby boomers will have on society and Canada's health care system is shared by the vast majority of Canadians.

The survey, conducted for the CMA's 2013 National Report Card on health issues, found that 93% of respondents believe the country needs a pan-Canadian strategy for dealing with seniors' health care issues in their homes and in hospitals, hospices and long-term-care facilities. The information was released Aug. 19 as the CMA's 146th annual meeting began in Calgary.

At the community level, just 41% of respondents believe that the hospitals and long-term-care facilities in their area can handle the growing demands from seniors who will not be able to remain at home.

"Canadians and their doctors are on exactly the same page," said CMA President Anna Reid, referring to the message physicians delivered to MPs in May during the CMA's lobby day on Parliament Hill. "As I said then, with political leadership, starting at the federal level but involving all levels of government, we can build a system that will be able to meet the changing needs of society."

The telephone survey, which involved 1,000 Canadians aged 18 and older, was conducted in July by Ipsos Reid. It also found that:

  • 93% of respondents believe the entire system would improve if there was a comprehensive strategy for seniors' care, because this would keep seniors in their homes longer and ease the burden on hospitals and other facilities;
  • 89% of respondents think a new seniors' strategy should involve all levels of government, with four in five (78%) believing the federal government has a key role to play.

Tellingly, 83% of respondents said they are concerned about the health care they will receive in their retirement years, and more than three-quarters of them - 77% - are worried about their personal access to home care and long-term care. A majority of respondents (63%) believe governments should focus on home and community care when preparing for the future.

"The anxiety Canadians have about health care in their so-called golden years is both real and well founded," Reid said. "Let there be no doubt that a national strategy for seniors' health care should be a federal priority."

The survey, considered accurate to within plus/minus 3.1 percentage points, also found that those most concerned about the care of seniors, both now and in the future, are women, those aged between 35 and 54, and those already caring for an elderly person outside their own home.

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