Gerontological Advisory Council

November 06, 2006 12:30 ET

Aging Veterans Need Bold New Approach to Care and Support

OTTAWA, ONATRIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 6, 2006) - The Gerontological Advisory Council (GAC) today released a discussion paper that urges the federal government to consider recommendations aimed at improving the care and support available to aging Veterans now, and in the future.

The paper, called "Keeping the Promise: The Future of Health Benefits for Canada's War Veterans," calls for immediate federal action and provides recommendations on how to support more Veterans and their families, help them enhance their health and well-being, and give them access to more health and social services.

"The majority of Canada's war Veterans are in their 80s and, like most older Canadians, they are coping with the effects of aging," says Dr. Victor Marshall, Chair of the Council. "Unlike other Canadians, they may also be coping with the long-term impact of military service on their health. About 2,000 of them are dying every month, so we must act now if we are going to make a difference in their quality of life."

Through Veterans Affairs Canada, qualified Veterans can now access health care benefits, long-term care and home care that may not be adequately met through their provincial health system or private health insurance.

"These programs have significant strengths, however, access to the programs is based on complex eligibility criteria and, in some cases, may not begin early enough to help Veterans avoid or delay health losses. As well, limits to current care options means that Veterans Affairs Canada is not always able to offer Veterans the most appropriate care setting for their needs," notes Dr. Marshall.

To address these concerns, the GAC proposes a new approach, called 'Veterans Integrated Services' (VIS) that would:

- be more comprehensive, flexible and responsive than VAC's current programs;

- reach more Veterans and families;

- help them enhance their health and well-being; and

- give them access to more appropriate health and social services when they need them.

"When older people have access to integrated health and social services, including information and activities that help them enhance their health, they have more opportunity to age well," says Marshall. "Integrated models of care lead to better health, quality of life and satisfaction for older adults. This helps to reduce the burden on family caregivers and health care costs."

"The proposed program has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life for war Veterans," says Dr. Marshall. "It will also provide a model of care for all current and future Canadian Forces veterans."

The GAC was formed in October 1997 to advise Veterans Affairs Canada on policies, programs, services and trends affecting Canada's aging population, with particular focus on Canada's aging war-service Veterans. The GAC's membership is drawn from the ranks of medical researchers and practitioners, academia, and veterans' organizations.

The discussion paper and its recommendations were developed independently, and at arm's length, from Veterans Affairs Canada. The paper has been shared with Veterans Affairs Canada for review and response.

For more information on the discussion paper and the Gerontological Advisory Council, please visit www.vac-acc.gc.ca.

Contact Information

  • Brent Moore & Associates on behalf of the
    Gerontological Advisory Council
    Marie-Claude Bureau
    Media Relations
    819-770-6338 x224