Commentary

Transitioning Care: A solution to how we live and care for each other in the future

February 17, 2015   ·   0 Comments

By Don Fenn
A community’s strength is its ability to look after its older adults – safely and with compassion.
For more than 12 years my King City company, Caregiver Omnimedia,  has heard directly from families about what they want from their health care system and we heard two inseparable truths:   there is an abiding allegiance for universal healthcare but also the belief that it needs to be transformed to meet 21st century needs.
Or put in more practical terms, there are large number of boomers who are concerned about mobility, costs, access to community services, and dependence on their families for their future care. They are very concerned about where they will live in order to sustain their own independence. As a result, the demand for more options in age-appropriate housing is increasing substantially across Ontario and Canada.
Aging in place, aging at home and living independently.
When we hear these terms, we think of being able to spend the rest of our lives in the comfort of our own home as opposed to living in a health or nursing facility. But once we get beyond that thought, what does it mean? What exactly does aging at home encompass?
Imagine an orchestra, up front you have your string section, the second level is your woodwinds.  Then there is the brass section. And in the back is your percussion. Despite all these instruments and sections, together they are an orchestra playing one piece of music.
An Aging in Place Campus within King could be your symphony of service. Rather than strings you have healthcare, including geriatric care managers, personal support workers, registered practical nurses, therapists. Instead of woodwinds you having unique housing choices, co-housing, supportive housing, some medical cottages, and some long term care housing options. They each have their own speciality but not their own tune.   Instead, they have come together to provide us with something much more innovative and transformative – an attractive and manageable life choice – an Aging in Place Campus similar to a university campus.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities stated in their 2013 Report on Canada’s Aging Population: “Small towns and rural communities, where 23% of Canadian seniors live, will face unique social, environmental, and healthcare challenges that can impact on quality of life different from those in larger urban populations. Seniors who wish to age in place in rural communities face greater barriers to remain in their homes, stay active, and remain engaged with their communities.”
Over the past few years, King Township staff and council have put into place many covenants which allow for sustainable development, and which make it easier to build real solutions for the future and become a showcase for rural communities around the world.

The transitional generation

In understanding the challenges of our rapidly aging market and that there is no typical senior or mature market it is important to consider “stage” not “age.” In other words, those in this population sector remain more likely to define themselves by their life stage rather than their physiological age.
There has been much said and written about the Silent Generation (1925- 1942) and the Baby Boomers (1946-1964), as well as their differences and preferences. Members of the silent generation retain their recall of experiences surrounding the events of World War II and the Great Depression, maintain self-reliance in overcoming hardships, and value a regular predictable schedule.
Boomers on the other hand, happily embrace change, have grown up demanding things be done on their terms, and are redefining the very concepts of aging and retirement. Many Boomers of the “sandwich generation,” and caught between raising their (sometimes adult) children and caring for elderly parents, physically and financially, a phenomenon that is affecting the future of King as it is the rest of the world.
Somewhere between these two generations a hybrid is developing and it has become to be known as the Transitional Generation. They are demanding a new way of living. Transitional Care Communities, Pocket communities, Med Cottage Communities and  Co Housing Communities, are just a few of the names that describe this new way of community care and living.
As the need for long-term care grows along with the aging population’s declining health, this transitional generation expects to enjoy active, healthy lifestyles for as long as possible.  One major factor which defines transitional development is “community.” One where residents are not only neighbours, but friends who act like family.
Several factors determine when one leaves their primary home, and everyone agrees there is “no right time,” but many factors contribute to a decision, such as:
•    The Economy – downsizing to put some dollars in your pocket.
•    Financial Planning – home is too large to maintain.
•    Family – move to be closer to the grandchildren.
•    Health – family wants comfort knowing that should health care crisis arise your loved one will be cared for in a continuum where health  care is provided but not necessarily in a nursing home or long term care facility that can be miles away from home.
Ontario requires a government-based assessment to be accepted in to long term care. The current wait time in King is 8 months, while the average wait time in the province is 2 years.
Don Fenn is the president of Caregiver Omnimedia, and a partner in Transitional Care Communities based in King City. Transitional Care Communities is hoping to repurpose the old Schomberg hockey arena in partnership with King Township.

         

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