Active Aging Symposium

Active Aging Symposium 2011: Planning for Healthy Aging On June 9th I attended my third annual Healthy Aging Symposium, presented by the B.C. Ministry of Health. Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors to the Minister of Health, opened the session. She pointed out that: • Chronic disease management will be crucial in the future. • Chronic diseases will increase by 60% in BC over the next 25 years. • A healthy lifestyle can reduce chronic disease by 80%. • A new government initiative, Healthy Families BC, will encourage people to manage their own health. Silas Brownsey Silas Brownsey, Seniors’ Healthy Living Secretariat, MC for the event, said: • Planning for old age is critical, but to most people, planning is anathema. • People don’t like to admit to growing old. • The recent financial crisis caused people to think about planning for old age. Keynote Speaker Dr. John Millar, MD, FRCP(C ), MHSc. Dr. John Millar, Executive Director, Population and Public Health, Provincial Health Services Authority (on leave), gave the keynote address. I found him to be the most informative speaker I have heard in a long time. Some of his observations were:

• Health problems are complex, involving a number of factors including obesity, health and socio-economic inequities and environmental/ecological sustainability.

• Some reasons for increasing health care costs are: – more people with chronic disease – unhealthy lifestyles – aging – rising drug costs – new technology – labour costs – increasing population – inefficiencies in chronic care • Health care problems include: – No GP available – One problem per visit Which result in best care only 50% of the time, ER overflows, repeat tests and long waits. • End of life care is poor. • Electronic Health records (EHR) are not used and not connected by common technology. • GP’s often work in isolation. They have no hospital privileges and sometimes no feedback from specialists. Some of the solutions are: • A new primary health care system. • Action on weight, obesity, smoking etc. • Dealing with the poverty/prosperity gap. • Improving the environment. Dr. Millar’s vision is: • Better prevention and management of chronic disease. • Integrated teams of medical professionals. • Expanded roles for nurses, shared care. • Specific care for a defined population. • Care based on results and outcomes. Some of his suggestions for improvement are: • Quality improvement in EHR’s. • A new business model involving payment incentives. • Community involvement. • Emphasis on self-management for prevention and care. This would require training people on how to self-manage their health. On personal health, his suggestions were: • Get enough sleep. • Proper nutrition. • Physical activity. • Weight control. • Watch consumption of alcohol and drugs. • Eliminate tobacco. • Mental stimulus. • Social stimulus – clubs, networks. • Injury prevention. Clinical: • Immunization • Screening • Testing • Preventative medications Self-management for: • Arthritis • Diabetes • Heart disease • Cancer • Kidney failure • Mental health Dr. Millar also values navigators to help people through the health care maze.