Research on rural aging has developed considerably since publication of the book Aging in Rural Canada (Butterworths, 1991). The purpose of this article is twofold: to provide a retrospective on issues in rural aging from this book, and to review Canadian literature on rural aging since its publication. The review highlights new directions in conceptual definitions of rural, and in issues of social engagement, independence, family and social networks, and rural services and health. Two main research lenses are evident. The marginalization lens focuses on rural seniors with health problems, but has not included those marginalized by poverty or gender. The aging-well lens focuses on contributions and engagement, but has omitted research on social relationships and quality of family interaction. The report includes a call for interrogation about interaction between people and place, and for understanding issues of rural diversity and processes of rural aging.
A current emphasis in Canadian public policy is on community care for frail seniors. Such care is viewed as attractive in part because public costs are lower than for traditional nursing home care. Adult Family Living (AFL) is seen as an exemplar of this community focus. Data from a multi-model evaluation of residential continuing care in western Canada are used to show that while AFL programs have lower public costs than nursing homes, AFL caregivers incur high levels of economic and non-economic costs. We address the question of the sustainability of this approach to community-based residential care in light of the apparent transfer of public costs to AFL caregivers.
Compared with nursing home care, community care, which is often viewed in Canada as care at home, is assumed to be best for older adults with chronic disease or disabilities since it is seen as client-focused and less costly. As the number of frail seniors living in the community increases, governments in Canada seek to provide alternate models of nursing home care. As part of a larger initiative meant to increase the scope of community programmes, a demonstration project was conducted in western Canada to evaluate the implementation of client-centred, community-based residential care with individuals requiring nursing-home-level care. The present authors explore two main implementation challenges: whether care that is responsive to individual preferences can be provided to people who cannot assume active decision-making roles; and whether care can be centred in the community if people are living in residential care settings rather than in their own homes. Focus groups were conducted with two key stakeholder groups with varying informal (family members) and formal (programme staff) relationships with residents living in three new programmes. From content analysis, the programmes appeared successful in conveying the importance of recognising residents as individuals and of keeping them connected to the community, but fell short of implementation expectations. Three themes illustrate the challenges: (1) engaging with others in a care partnership; (2) responding to residents' preferences and care needs with limited resources; and (3) maintaining residents' connections with the community. To improve the feasibility of these programmes, some changes could be pursued within existing financial resources. However moderating the funding to bring it somewhat closer to nursing home levels could support the sustainability of community-situated programmes for frail seniors.
The outcome of the project reported on here is a client-centered consumer satisfaction questionnaire designed to evaluate new models of residential continuing care in Alberta, Canada. Satisfaction is defined as a multi-dimensional construct that is grounded in the consumer's experience. Consultation with the clients of the services during development of the instrument ensured that characteristics important to the clients were assessed. The result is an instrument with which to measure satisfaction that is fully client-centered and that, with appropriate modifications, can be used to monitor any client-centered program for cognitively-able continuing care clients.
The aim of this project was to identify variables that predicted older adults' ability to manage medications.
The study used a retrospective cohort design and was set in a self-medication program within a rehabilitation hospital. A random sample of charts from 301 participants in the self-medication program was reviewed.
Logistic regression models accounted for 26.7% and 55.8% of the variance in the probability of making one or more self-medication errors during the initial and final weeks of the program, respectively. The importance of cognition in predicting medication management capacity was seen in bivariate and multivariate analyses and through a number of interactions with other predictors. Statistically significant predictors in one or both analyses included medication regimen complexity, Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) score, duration of institutionalization, depression, and interactions between (a) medication regimen complexity and MMSE score and (b) ability to cook and MMSE score.
The direct effects of cognition and medication regimen complexity were important predictors of medication management capacity.
Although some studies have confirmed positive associations between social engagement and well-being in later life, this study aimed to understand why some seniors cannot be engaged. The authors analyzed the lived experiences of 89 seniors in three rural communities in Canada, from semi-structured interviews and using the constant comparison method. Five factors make choices for social engagement in later life unequal among older adults who differ by gender, class, age, and health status. Profound engagement in care work, compulsory altruism, personal resources, objectively perceived and subjectively available engagement opportunities, and ageist barriers around paid work constrain choices for seniors who lack privilege in the context of a market economy, particularly for low-income older women. To avoid stigmatizing vulnerable older persons, societal barriers to meaningful activities must be addressed - for example, through provision of income security or by reversing inter- and intragenerational ageism in access to the labor market.