When Will They Ever Learn?

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

It’s a fact: the population is aging. A person could be forgiven for believing that society at large had grown accustomed to this idea by now – yet they would be wrong. Each time a new but predictable demographic indicator is published by Statistics Canada we go through the same rigmarole. Headlines trumpet the same Doomsday scenario and we collectively wonder how our institutions, let alone our healthcare systems will manage to survive the grey tsunami.

An aging population, they say, will spread shockwaves through the system, leaving only debris in its wake. *Yawn*. You’ll have to excuse us for being bored with these clichés. The result is that older persons are generally perceived as burdensome and useless and general ageism prevails. This distorted view is reflected in advertising (watch for any TD corporate “old fart” series ad and let us know what you think) as well as in policy debates. In reality, the facts are that older persons have accumulated wisdom and that they continue to make significant economic and human contributions.

This week’s aging population “shocker” is that by 2021 seniors will outnumber children. To read more about this, pleas click here. Read more To capitalize on the “scoop” the CBC decided to try and assess public opinion by polling people to find out whether or not they were alarmed by the aging population. Click here to go to the CBC poll page.

Our question is – what is the alternative? Let’s get past the fact that the population is aging and let us actually look at what this means and how we can make the best of it. In the past, CARP has suggested that there was an alternative way – a third option, if you will, for our healthcare system. There are several ways of maximizing the value we get from our healthcare dollars and the impending crunch (not collapse!) is a great opportunity to start actually reforming our healthcare system so that it performs optimally. We’re already paying for it out the ears!

This week, TD Economics published a report on reform for Ontario’s health care system. To read a summary of the report, please click here. Some people were alarmed by the suggestion that the government cut drug benefits for high income seniors. Instead of getting hysterical, we’ll be getting informed. Next week CARP will be getting a private briefing on TD’s recommendations from the authors of the study. We’ll report back to you on what we find – the good, the bad or the ugly. It could be either one or it could be all of the above – things, as we know, are not always black or white. There we go… Again with the clichés!

Keywords: seniors, ageism