Health-care costs worry baby boomers.

A strong majority of Canadians aged 45 and older are anxious about their financial future and their ability to pay for uninsured prescription drugs and other health expenses, a new poll finds. Eight in 10 aren’t convinced they’ll be able to find or afford a decent home or long-term care should they need it, according to the Canadian Medical Association’s annual “report card” on health.

“We should not accept that a country as prosperous as Canada has such a large portion of its population living in fear for the future as they age,” said outgoing CMA president Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti.

Some 86 per cent of working Canadians are worried about paying for health care in their retirement, says a new Ipsos-Reid poll.

Many of those polled drew from their personal experience of caring for aging parents, “and baby boomers won’t accept the level of care” they see being delivered to their loved ones, Francescutti said.

“There are a lot more of us coming down the pipeline (but) this system isn’t oriented toward taking care of people who are living longer.”

The Ipsos-Reid poll of 1,000 Canadians aged 45 and older was released Monday to coincide with the opening of the CMA’s annual meeting in Ottawa, where seniors’ care, medical marijuana and doctorassisted death are among the issues expected to dominate debate.

Overall, 81 per cent of those polled said they’re worried about the quality of health care they can expect when they’re older. Six in 10 have little faith hospitals and long-term care facilities have the resources to handle the needs of a rapidly greying population, or that there will be enough services to help seniors live at home longer.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority – 95 per cent – endorsed the need for a national seniors-care strategy.

The doctors’ lobby estimates $2.3 billion a year could be used in more effective ways, for example, by addressing the growing problem of so-called “bed blockers” – elderly patients well enough to be discharged who languish in hospital beds while waiting placement in a nursing or retirement home. It costs about $1,000 a day to care for a patient in hospital, compared to $130 a day in a long-term care facility, and $55 for home care, according to the CMA.

The proportion of seniors is growing fast: In 1971, Canadians aged 65 and older accounted for eight per cent of the population; today they make up 15 per cent. By the time all boomers turn 65, seniors could represent 25 per cent of the nation’s total population.

Future concerns

An Ipsos-Reid poll of 1,000 Canadians aged 45 and older was released Monday to coincide with the opening of CMA’s annual meeting in Ottawa. Among the findings:

86 per cent of working Canadians have concerns about health care in retirement.

Only half said they would be able to afford to pay for extra health services not covered by provincial health plans or their health insurance.

64 per cent are concerned about their financial situation when they retire. Women and those living in middle-income households (earning between $30,000 and $60,000 annually) are significantly more likely to be concerned about their ability to afford health care expenses in the future.

For those who don’t expect to retire for another 10 to 20 years, half are concerned about maintaining the same standard of living for their spouse or partner if they should die first.

Overall, more than a quarter (26 per cent) help provide care to an aging relative or friend; 34 per cent of 55-to 64-yearolds are acting as caregivers. 64 per cent of caregivers are experiencing high levels of stress.

Three in four (75 per cent) of those polled expect they will be able to “die with dignity” in a place of their choosing. Men and those over 75 are more confident they’ll be able to die where they choose.



Sharon Kirkey, Postmedia News

Published: Monday, August 18, 2014

© Calgary Herald 2014


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