Health tops seniors' concerns: survey

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Linda Jean Nicholson displays a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul’s O Canada in this Guardian file photo.

A recent survey by the P.E.I. Senior Citizens’ Federation indicates the primary area of concern for Island seniors is staying healthy.  

“We’re not at all surprised that seniors are worried about their health,” says seniors’ federation president John Kenny. “The result of this survey confirms what we already knew.”

Taken in early summer, the survey focussed on two primary areas: programs for seniors and areas of concern.

 Nearly half of all seniors indicated staying physically active was their number one concern followed by maintaining good health (43 per cent), being able to remain at home (38 per cent), staying independent (37 per cent) and maintaining mental sharpness (30 per cent). The primary financial concerns of seniors were increasing cost of medications (23 per cent) and having ample finances (20 per cent).

“We conducted the survey to assist us in planning future programs,” said Linda Jean Nicholson, executive director of the seniors’ federation. “The top contenders were no surprise, but we had anticipated safety issues would be higher - only nine per cent of seniors were concerned about feeling safe and secure. And access to health care was another surprise – less than nine per cent had concerns regarding accessing health care and only two per cent were concerned about obtaining health information. It’s the bottom numbers that indicate what our government is doing right.”

The survey also asked seniors to select programs they would like to attend. “It’s critical that we offer programs to meet seniors’ social and educational needs. Research has shown people who are active and socially connected are healthier.”

More than half of the seniors surveyed (61 per cent) are interested in computer courses, followed by cooking (23 per cent), cribbage (22 per cent), nutrition (19 per cent), bowling (18 per cent), and photography (17 per cent).

“The federation has a very popular computing for seniors program,” says Nicholson. “We’re well aware of the need in this area, but we were amazed computers were number one. Obviously, Island seniors know the value of good computer skills in today’s society.”

Half of seniors who completed the survey live in rural P.E.I. and 80 per cent are age 60 to 80 years. “The only segment where we fell short,” says Nicholson, “is the male to female ration. A majority of those who complete the survey – 79 per cent - are women.”

The least popular program which had zero takers were for martial arts, chess, and cyber safety.

Organizations: Senior Citizens

Geographic location: P.E.I.

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  • Bill Kays
    August 27, 2012 - 13:05

    Of course seniors number one concern is health. As we get older we tend to value the time we have left more highly than earlier in our lives. Compounding the issue is this report put out by the Canadian Medical Association stating - CMA Poll Finds "Worrisome" Gap In Income-Related Health Status ... by Patrick Sullivan, August 13, 2012, The CMA says physicians are finding it "particularly worrisome" that a widening gap in health status appears to be separating Canadians in different income brackets. "When it comes to the well-being of Canadians, the old saying that wealth equals health continues to ring true," CMA President John Haggie commented as the CMA released poll results that were used to compile its 2012 National Report Card on Canada's health care system. The poll, conducted by Ipsos Reid, found that only 39% of respondents earning less than $30,000 a year described their health as excellent or very good, compared with 68% for those earning $60,000 or more. It also found that the recent economic downturn has had a significant impact. Nearly half of respondents who had household incomes of $30,000 or less (46%) reported they were spending less time, energy and money sustaining their health as the economy slowed, compared with 19% of those from households with incomes of $60,000 or more. "We as Canadians tend to think we have a fair society and an equitable public health care system when in reality there are vast numbers of Canadians who are forced to do without when it comes to health care," Haggie said. "That is why the physicians of Canada are pressing for the transformation of health and health care - so that patient needs truly can be put first." The findings, released as the CMA prepared for its Aug. 12-15 annual meeting in Yellowknife, are topical because one focus of the meeting will be the impact social determinants of health - issues such as income and housing - have on Canadians' health status. The CMA poll also found: 59% of those earning less than $30,000 had accessed some form of health care within the past month, compared with 43% of those earning more than $60,000 24% of those in the lower income category had either delayed or stopped buying prescription drugs, compared with just 3% of those earning $60,000 or more tobacco use within the two income categories showed a sharp divide, with 33% of those in the lower income group reporting daily tobacco use, compared with 10% in the higher income group In terms of grading the health care system, three-quarters of respondents (74%) gave it a mark of B or higher (39% A, 35% B), which represents a four-point improvement over the 2011 results. Respondents aged 55 or older were most likely to give the system an A grade (47%), while those aged 35 to 54 were least likely (32%). Forward any comments about this article to: cmanews@cma.ca. Since most seniors are on a shrinking fixed income this issue becomes even more important.

  • whychickensoup
    August 26, 2012 - 08:33

    what does chicken soup have to do with the survey? How many seniors were surveyed? what was the methodology?

  • Walter Wilkins
    August 26, 2012 - 08:01

    As a senior that didn't take the survey, I wonder why this article doesn't provide a hyper-link to the survey itself - after all, this is the 21st century. There's more than a few of us with enough smarts left to want access to the raw data so we can do our own interpretation. We're old, we're not children. It would also seem that the article may have missed the point - or, at least, it should have raised an interesting question. How does one interpret the result that health (43 per cent) gets trumped by a desire to become more engaged with computers (61 per cent)? One interpretation is that seniors want to use the tool to be more engaged with each other - and the world - perhaps to fend off the isolation and alienation that aging imposes on us all? With enhanced communication, as physical congregation becomes more of a problem, we seniors know we can at least seek out the remedy of virtual congregation. I hope that our government enables this to occur. Then again, would governments get off so easily? Could such obviously wrong decisions, like Plan B, slip by so easily? Don't forget, many seniors have the time to actively engage with the issues - imagine if we were empowered with the tools to become not only more active, but also more activist? Perhaps the article ought to have headlined: SENIORS WANT TO LIVE IN THE PRESENT, NOT THE PAST.