With the Canadian population aging at a rapidly increasing rate, the need for quality end-of-life care is growing, and the necessity of discussion and awareness has never been more important. In 2009, Canada had 4.7 million persons aged 65 years or over, twice the number recorded in 1981. According to projection scenarios, the growth of this group will accelerate in the coming years. It is projected that by 2061 there will be between 11.9 million and 15.0 million persons aged 65 years or older. People are also living longer and with more chronic, life-limiting illnesses, with an estimated 41% of Canadian seniors dealing with two or more select chronic conditions.
In recognition, the theme of World Hospice Palliative Care Day 2012 is “Living to the end: palliative care for an aging population.” The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association aims to raise awareness of the needs of people living with a life-limiting illness and to change Canadian’s understanding of end-of-life. As Canadians, we need to focus on access to quality palliative care for those aging with a chronic illness, and to ensure that our aging population live in quality and pain free – right until the end.
Quality palliative care involves more than medical treatment; it involves a “holistic approach.” For Erin Bezemer, We Care Home Health Services, “Care is aimed at the entire person including their emotional, spiritual and physical needs and includes care of their family. Each client is unique in their care needs, requiring that we respect their various morals, values and beliefs. It is important to remember that our own personal morals, values and beliefs should not affect how we care for these Loved Ones, caring for them as if they were our own Loved One.”
According to We Care, one of the biggest issues a person aging with one or more chronic diseases in our population will face is “knowing the care options that are available to you within your community,” which includes having access to those care options. We Care believes that knowledge and awareness can help both persons with chronic illnesses and their family members prepare for and cope with the coming changes. They encourage individuals to “understand your health conditions so that you are prepared to deal with them, know that it’s okay to ask for help, know when it is time to ask for help” and “to plan ahead for potential crisis situations.”
Be a part of this day of celebration and support with us! Help us raise awareness about the need for quality end-of-life, and help open the discussion of what that entails among Canadians. Share your experiences, voice your concerns, and tell your story. Find us on Twitter and be a part of the conversation with #whpcd2012.