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Rising acuity, changing LTC needs in Canada

November 24, 2015
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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Long-term care communities serving older Canadians are seeing similar increases in acuity and chronic illness complexity as their American neighbors, according to a new report from the Ontario Long Term Care Association.

The report, This is Long-Term Care 2015, serves as a snapshot of what older residents need in terms of care and assistance and as a bigger picture of aging health trends over time. The report updates data from the previous edition, conducted in 2010.

Older adults entering Canadian nursing homes tend to have much more complex medical conditions and frailty compared to five years ago—40.6 percent of residents need monitoring for at least one acute medical illness, nearly double the numbers from 2010. Residents' needs for extensive support with activities of daily living are also rising, including the need for help with personal hygiene (7.2 percent increase), toileting (8.9 percent increase) and bed mobility (11.6 percent increase).

Although the acuity increase is partly attributable to Canada’s changes in long-term care admission criteria in 2010, the trends are reflected in memory care as well, the report shows:

  • A larger proportion of residents (62 percent) now have Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, an increase of 6 percent since 2010.
  • Nearly half (46 percent) of residents exhibit some form of aggressive behavior related to their dementia or mental health condition; more than one in five (22.2 percent exhibits severe or very severe aggressive behavior.
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