As a result of the Canadian aging population, major impacts are expected to affect the country’s economy, society and health care system over the next 25 to 30 years (Health and Health Care for an Aging Population , 2013). In Canada, the elderly population makes up a significant proportion of the population, according to Statistics Canada, 14% of Canada’s population was 65 or older in 2010. Specifically, Canada’s population was 4.8 million, 1.3 million were 80 years old and older while 6,500 were 100 years old and older (Statistics Canada, 2016). These data proportion are estimated to rise to about 25% in 2036 related to the aging of the baby boom generation (Statistics Canada, 2016) Since health problems increase with age, the elderly report more chronic conditions and additional poor health (Statistics Canada, 2016). The World Health Organization estimated that chronic diseases would represent 89 per cent of all deaths in Canada in 2005 (World Health Organization, n.d.). Statistics Canada reported 25% of seniors reporting a minimum of four chronic conditions in 2009. (Statistics Canada, 2016). Amongst these conditions, some diseases still prevailing today include diabetes, depression, and Alzheimer’s. Various measures exist to promote and prevent these conditions, this article will focus on the current efforts of the health care system that addresses the current challenges of diabetes, depression and Alzheimer’s in the elderly population aged 65 and older.
The amount of individuals with diagnosed diabetes increases with age as type 2 diabetes is the result of accumulated poor lifestyle choices, according to Statistics Canada, 967,048 Canadians aged 65 and over in 2014 were diagnosed with diabetes (Statistics Canada, 2016). Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body is exposed to increased glucose levels overwhelming insulin receptors which result in the inability to absorb glucose. Type 2 diabetes is prominent in the older generations as the body’s ability to produce and use insulin deteriorates as one ages (Statistics Canada, 2015). This disease significantly influences the quality of life of patients due to the number of associated complications. These complications include comorbidities, cognitive dysfunction, functional impairment, falls and fractures, polypharmacy and depression. Patients diagnosed with diabetes are less physically active which advances functional impairment leading to muscle atrophy, further increasing risks of falls. However, lack of physical activity may not be solely responsible for the root cause of physical impairment, other causes may be due to interaction between coexisting medical conditions, and general decreased functional decline seen in the elderly such as vision and hearing difficulty, and gait and balance problems (Kim, Sung, Cho, & Park, 2012). As a result, polypharmacy is necessary to control and reduce the risk of the disease’s complications, however it increases the risk of drug side effects and drug interactions (Kim, Sung, Cho, & Park, 2012).
Moreover, diabetes was found to be related with a 47% increased risk for all dementia, specifically 39% related to Alzheimer’s dementia (Liu, Gou, & Zuo, 2014). In 2014, statistics Canada reported that 402,000 Canadians aged 65 years old and older were living with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. This number is also expected to rise due to the aging population (Statistics Canada, 2017). A report by Statistic Canada projected the occurrence of Alzheimer’s and other related dementias reaching one million by 2038. Alzheimer’s causes the loss and/or impairment of basic motor skills such as swallowing, walking, and bladder and bowel control. These symptoms can be life- threatening as difficulty swallowing can cause food to be inhaled, resulting in aspiration pneumonia (Park, 2016).
Depression is the most common mental health problem in the elderly (Wiese, 2011). In Canada and other high income countries, depression is expected to be the greatest contributor to disease burden in 2030. The quality of life of the elderly is significantly impacted by depression as it is not uncommon for elderly to experience signs of loneliness. In fact, studies suggest that