Helping our parents age in place
In 2015 a major shift occurred in Canada’s population: for the first time there were more Canadians over the age of 65 than under the age of 15. Currently at 5.8 million, the number of Canadians 65 years of age or older will double in the next 25 years.
While there is much to learn about Canada's aging population, we do know this: most older Canadians want to “age in place”. This is the desire to remain in their own homes, living in their community with some level of mobility and independence.
Here is a recipe of factors that will allow older adults to successfully stay at home as they age
- Adequate housing
- Access to transportation
- Recreational opportunities
- Amenities that facilitate physical activity
- Opportunities for social interaction
- Health and home services
Homecare as a way to age in place
That final ingredient in the recipe—health and home services—is so critical. Receiving home care services is sometimes the only option that enables older adults to remain safe and independently at home.
Between 2008 and 2011 Canadian home care clients increased by 55%. Presently more than 1.4 million Canadians receive publicly funded home care services every year. With our aging Canadian population and the coming need for home care services, it’s never been so important to think about what kind of care our parents will receive.
It’s about adding life to our years
We need to plan and develop effective strategies that support older adults to grow old at home. To do so, it is critical that we truly understand what aspects of home care delivery make the biggest difference and enhance older adult health, mobility and social connectedness.
Mobility as a solution
Maintaining and promoting mobility are essential components to aging in place. There are successful international home-based practice models, known as re-enablement, that effectively increased older adult’ balance, strength, independence, and social connectedness. We do not yet know if similar models can work here in BC and Canada, as they have yet to be adapted to our culture and tested here at home. Therefore, in Canada these programs are not implemented widely. Dr. Sims Gould adds, “I have dedicated my professional life to examining the needs of older adults and their caregivers. No one has ever told me that the best part of their day was receiving a bath from a home care worker but many have expressed the desire for to go for a supported walk”.
With support and continued research, Dr. Sims Gould and her team will continue to identify and modify the best models of home care to support Canada’s growing older adult population.
Meet Dr. Joanie Sims Gould
Dr. Joanie Sims Gould and her team are adding significant weight to a previously slim body of research knowledge on home care in Canada—particularly for those 85 and older. Her work captures the voices and experiences of those who receive and deliver care in Canada. She is at the forefront of research in this emerging field. Dr. Sims Gould is an award-winning scholar in receipt of provincial and national research fellowships. She has published and presented extensively on issues related to older adults and their families.
Read more about Active Aging BC, an initiative of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility comprised of two parts:
Read some of Dr. Sims-Gould's recent publications
- Benches become like porches: Older adults' perspectives of their neighbourhood built environment's impact on their walking behavior and social and physical health. From Social Science & Medicine, 2016.
- Home Support Workers Perception of Family Members of their Older Clients: A Qualitative Study. From BMC Geriatrics, 2016.
- Types and patterns of safety concerns in home care: client and family caregiver perspectives. From International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 2016.
- When things are really complicated we call the Social Worker": Post-hip fracture care transitions for older people. From Health & Social Work, 2015.