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House calls needed to care for aging population

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – New census data being released on Tuesday is expected to show huge growth in the number of seniors living in Canada. That has some doctors suggesting change is needed soon to keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed with demand for service.

Family Physician, Dr. John Sloan, says one of the keys will be for doctors to make more house calls.  He suggests seniors should stay away from hospitals for treatment of minor ailments because they often end up staying for a long time.

“The best thing for an old person isn’t that we put them in the hospital whenever they don’t feel well, [and] give them the highest tech care because in general, first of all they don’t want that and secondly they really don’t respond that well to it,” says Sloan.

He believes doctors should be available to visit seniors 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Number one, let’s listen to what they want, and once you listen to old people, frail old people who are living at home, they tell you 95 times out of 100 ‘I Want to stay home, and I want to be comfortable’,” suggests Sloan.

He says having seniors continue to function in their own places can also lead to better health outcomes. Sloan is a Clinical Professor at the University of British Columbia, and has written a book about providing care to seniors called A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly.

Stats Canada will provide more details from the 2011 Census on Tuesday, including age and sex breakdowns in communities across the country. Aging baby boomers are now becoming seniors and should drive significant growth in the over sixty age group.