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Alumni News

Facing Our Looming Elder Care Crisis

November 22, 2010

Facing Our Looming Elder Care CrisisWe all know Canadians are living longer thanks to healthier lifestyles and improvements in disease detection and treatment. But the longer we live, the more likely we will need help with caring for ourselves at some point due to accident, illness or cognitive impairment. Most of us would prefer to remain in our homes as we age and have easy access to community services.

As a Seniors Coordinator, Home Maintenance and Repair, for Links2Care in Mississauga, Gail Jones helps provide the services that keep seniors from going into long term care facilities. “The most pressing priorities for seniors are having the resources available, as well as the ability to navigate through the health system so they can live as independently as possible,” she says.

The latest project by the Sheridan Elder Research Centre (SERC) announced this past October is good news for Gail and others working with older adults in our communities. Focused on enhancing the lives of older Canadians, the “Aging in Place” project will see SERC collaborate with small and medium-sized companies in the research and design of technology applications that promote cognitive health and social inclusion. The Centre has been awarded $2.3 million over five years for the project through the College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program, an initiative of the federal government.

“We anticipate a huge call for social service professionals specializing in the care of older adults, says Karen Stewart, Professor in the Social Service Worker (SSW) -Gerontology program and former program Coordinator. “The pressure is building to come up with an aging at home initiative to deal with the tsunami of older Canadians. We will not be able to afford residential care for all our elderly.” 

A strong partnership with other community organizations is the key to providing the best home care and support for our aging population, says Gail, who graduated from the SSW-Gerontology program in 2008. Future priorities include transportation to and from medical appointments and caregiver relief, with the expected increase of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders, she adds. 

For those seniors who are unable to stay in their homes, SSW-Gerontology alumni are particularly skilled in helping older Canadians and their families make the transition into long-term care, which often involves feelings of guilt, loss, and separation anxiety (Relocation Stress Syndrome), says Karen. 

Our grads are highly sought-after. In fact, Northridge Long-term care Centre in Oakville created a position specifically with our alumni in mind. The Alzheimer’s Society of Peel grants four awards each year to our graduating students. 

Having a connection to SERC also gives credibility to an already widely respected program, says Karen. “SERC brings a huge profile to Sheridan and makes it enticing for students to come here. This field of research is timely and very exciting.”