Opinions and Commentaries

Healthy eating and physical activity is important – especially for older adults. A sharp decline in physical activity can set a number of interlocking health issues in motion, including loss of energy, muscle strength, and balance, especially among older adults. The result is increased frailty, which undermines the body’s ability to cope with minor illness and can lead to more serious health deterioration that requires acute care. The Globe and Mail (March 14, 2021)

Vieillir en santé : une leçon à tirer de la pandémie. Le mois dernier, alors que l’attention du monde entier était braquée sur les bouleversements politiques et la deuxième vague fulgurante de la pandémie, une proclamation de grande importance est passée dans l’ombre. En effet, l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies a déclaré que la période 2020-2030 sera la Décennie pour le vieillissement en bonne santé, lançant ainsi un appel à l’action mondiale et concertée pour favoriser la santé et le bien-être du milliard de personnes de plus de 60 ans dans le monde au cours des dix prochaines années. Le Soleil, Le Droit (February 18, 2021)

Les aînés ne sont pas le problème: ils sont une partie de la solution. Les adultes plus âgés ne doivent pas être considérés seulement comme des victimes de la COVID-19: ils constituent également une ressource apte à aider la société à s’en rétablir. Huff Post (February 12, 2021), Acadie Nouvelle (February 23, 2021)

Why healthy aging must be the upshot of the COVID-19 pandemic. It would be in everyone’s best interest to focus now on ways to prevent frailty by investing in policies that ensure healthy aging for all Canadians. The Hill Times (February 8, 2021), Vancouver Sun, The Georgia Straight (February 19, 2021), Windsor Star (February 21, 2021), KevinMD.com (February 23, 2021)

Seniors are not the problem – they’re part of the solution. What’s forgotten in the focus on keeping seniors safe is that older adults aren’t solely vulnerable and reliant but contribute greatly to our economy and to our society. Canada’s older adults should not be seen only as victims of COVID-19, but also as a resource to help society recover from it. Ottawa Citizen (February 16, 2021), Sudbury Star (February 17, 2021), Mid-North MonitorTimmins Daily Press, Montreal Gazette,

Better treatment, respect needed for Canada’s older adults. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the pitfalls of how we approach ageing in our society. Currently we use a reactive, problem-based approach to ageing instead of a preventive, holistic approach. Windsor Star (August 21, 2020)
Time to stop warehousing Canada’s seniors. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that Canada needs to change the way we care for our older adults. We have failed in our duty to safeguard the most vulnerable members of our society.
Winnipeg Free Press , The Hamilton Spectator (July 10, 2020), Ottawa Life Magazine (July 7, 2020), Winnipeg Sun (June 30, 2020)
How to add quality of life for Canada’s older adults? — AVOID frailty. Preventing or delaying frailty won’t prevent COVID-19, but it will help make Canadian seniors more resilient generally, it will add quality of life to remaining years, and reduce the stress on our health and social services and on family caregivers. And it will help us prepare for the next pandemic and/or looming social care crisis. Ottawa Life Magazine (August 6, 2020), O Canada.com (July 13, 2020), The Province (July 13, 2020), The Hamilton Spectator (July 10, 2020)

For seniors, avoiding frailty fosters better health. Looking at frailty in the context of this pandemic and the tragic outcomes in long-term care, it is abundantly clear that now, more than any time in history, we need to increase the resilience of people who are older and vulnerable to becoming frail. Toronto StarThe Record (July 8, 2020)

Projects funded to improve health, social care of First Nations elders. Approximately 50% of First Nations people over 65 years of age are living with frailty, which is double the national average. CFN is spending a total of $400,000 to fund six projects in total; three in British Columbia, two in northern Ontario and one in Winnipeg. Edmonton Sun , Winnipeg Sun (June 29, 2020)

Advance care planning more important now than ever. Advanced care planning – decisions about what you’d like your end of life care to look like – have always been important, but COVID-19 has made such discussions more important now than ever, particularly for those in their senior years. The virus has significantly more serious outcomes, including higher mortality rates, the older you are or the more frail you may be. Ottawa Life Magazine (April 14, 2020), Canadian Business Journal (May 20, 2020)

The Future of Aging According to 11 Canadian Experts. Climate change does not affect everyone equally – those who are frail are at greater risk. Frailty risk factors such as living alone, social isolation and low socio-economic status also increase the risk from extreme weather. Everything Zoomer (April 13, 2020)

Frail seniors will be hardest hit by COVID-19. Canada’s older adults, particularly those with underlying health issues, those with chronic health conditions and those living with frailty, are already at increased risk for severe, adverse health outcomes from even minor illnesses and injury. They will be the hardest hit by the COIVD-19 virus. Focus on Victoria, Welland Tribune, The Standard , The Hamilton Spectator , The Peterborough Examiner, Niagara Falls Review, Ottawa Life Magazine (March 24, 2020)

Check on seniors in your community and help them prepare for the long-term consequences of COVID-19. We need to make sure we recognize the vulnerability of seniors living with frailty. This also means making sure that measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 don’t negatively affect our seniors. Public health authorities have advised Canadians to engage in “social distancing” — staying away from crowded public spaces and avoiding unnecessary close contact with others. But social isolation is also dangerous to the health and well-being of older adults. Toronto Star (March 17, 2020)

Don’t leave older Canadians behind in COVID-19 preparedness. A major consideration as we prepare to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is to be aware of the different regional impacts it might have. Some communities have larger concentrations of seniors, including older people with frailty, and other underlying health conditions. These are the people most at risk so we may need to be aware of these regionalities for planning purposes such that we can direct our health care resources accordingly. Ottawa Life Magazine (March 17, 2020)

Here’s why you should get your flu shot every year. In fact, influenza is one of Canada’s top 10 infectious diseases and it has a catastrophic impact on the most vulnerable in our society. So start getting your flu shot for your sake, for your loved ones and your community. Calgary’s Business (January 15, 2020)

Older people are at greater risk from climate change. Every senior needs an emergency preparedness plan, developed with families and friends, and home care agencies. But government agencies and disaster management agencies must also take into account the unique needs of older Canadians living with frailty. Op-ed by CFN Scientific Director John Muscedere and Network Investigator George Heckman. Toronto Star (July 4, 2019)

Changements climatiques : des aînés en danger. Les personnes âgées plus vulnérables ou fragilisées sont exposées à un risque accru face aux changements climatiques et aux conditions météorologiques qu’ils entraînent, disent les auteurs. John Muscedere et George Heckman.
La Presse (29 juillet 2019)
Pledge to end your fear of death and end-of-life care. Are you or a loved one aging, perhaps with a chronic heart or lung condition that limits daily activities? Do you have an older parent in a nursing home or who needs assistance with daily living activities? If so, read on and make the pledge. Op-ed by George Heckman & Paul Hébert. KevinMD (March 13, 2019)

Surmontez votre peur de la mort et exprimez vos souhaits pour les soins en fin de vie. Chaque jour, en tant que médecins nous voyons la fin de vie se détériorer et devenir plus douloureuse en raison d’un manque de planification des soins. Paul Hébert

Le Huffington Post (25 février 2019)

New food guide well-designed for the healthy, but those with frailty and chronic illnesses need different approach. ‘Do I like the new Food Guide? I do. I am, however, waiting for more information on how this Guide can be adapted to vulnerable populations, including older adults living with frailty and those living in our healthcare institutions.’ Op-ed by Heather Keller

Federal funding is ending, but frailty still matters. In providing long-term funding, the NCE [Networks of Centres of Excellence] program recognized that there are no quick fixes when it comes to complex challenges around important issues for the health, safety and well-being of Canadians. The loss of the NCEs will be felt across the country. And not just in academic settings. Op-ed by Russell Williams and John Muscedere.

iPolitics (January 8, 2019), Hamilton Spectator, Hamilton Community News & Waterloo Record (January 17, 2019), Brooks Weekend Regional (January 24, 2019)

La fin du financement des RCE soulève des questions. En arrêtant de financer les Réseaux de centres d’excellence, le gouvernement met en péril le Réseau canadien des soins aux personnes fragilisées. Russell Williams & John Muscedere.

Options politiques (30 janvier 2019)

Let’s make Canadian hospitals more senior-friendly. Canadians are living longer. Unfortunately, our hospitals aren’t ready for them. Op-ed by George Heckman & Paul Hébert.

Policy Options (December 13, 2018), Canadian Healthcare Network (December 17, 2018), Ottawa Life (December 18, 2018), Regina Leaders Post & Calgary’s Business (December 19, 2018)

Nos hôpitaux exposent les personnes âgées vulnérables à des risques. Une plus longue espérance de vie entraîne la hausse des maladies chroniques, une réalité pour laquelle nos hôpitaux ne sont pas prêts. Paul Hébert & George Heckman.

Options politiques (14 décembre 2018)

When it comes to treatment for older adults living with frailty, less is more. Sometimes, too much treatment can do more harm than good. This is true in all ages but is especially relevant for older adults living with frailty who are much more likely to receive medical care where treatments can pose a higher risk of adverse effects. Op-ed by John Muscedere.

Hamilton Spectator & Waterloo Record (November 26, 2018)

Soigner excessivement nos aînés, est-ce possible? Inspirés par leurs lectures sur Internet, les patients et familles s’attendent à des batteries de tests et des traitements intensifs, bien que ce ne soit pas toujours optimal d’agir ainsi.

Le Huffington Post (13 décembre 2018)

What astronauts and seniors have in common. As it turns out, understanding the effects of space travel on the body may be important to understanding what happens to us here on Earth as we get older. And the reverse is also true: studying frailty in aging seniors has much to offer space travel. Op-ed by John Muscedere.

Winnipeg Free Press (September 27, 2018)

Why we need to pay more attention to treating delirium. When acquired in hospital, delirium damages recovery and torments patients and family. Op-ed by Gordon Boyd.

Hamilton Spectator (August 24, 2018), Peterborough Examiner (August 24, 2018), Kitchener-Waterloo Record (August 24, 2018), Calgary’s Business (August 28, 2018), The Medical Post (August 29, 2018), Canadian Healthcare Manager (August 30, 2018), Winnipeg Free Press (September 7, 2018)

Le délire, un effet secondaire grave et courant des traitements en unité de soins intensifsGordon Boyd

Le Soleil (4 août 2018)

Who is caring for the caregivers? Our loved ones’ well-being depends on themCare aides’ welfare is almost entirely overlooked in the health system. The health of care aides affects the quality of care they deliver. Carole Estabrooks and Stephanie Chamberlain.

CBC News online (July 29, 2018)

In emergencies, the elderly die. Here’s how we can start to change that. With the Vulnerable Persons at Risk (VPR) algorithm, seniors don’t have to be helpless in the face of disaster. John Hirdes and Sandy van Solm

National Post (July 24, 2018), Calgary’s Business (July 26, 2018), The Province (August 4, 2018), Hamilton Spectator (August 8, 2018)

The medicalization of caregiving. Nearly all caregivers are willing to do as much as they can, but is the health care system unduly burdening family and friends? When does insisting that caregiving tasks expand to include medical procedures normally done by a professional become too much? In order to follow the home first philosophy, which believes that most people wish to remain in their homes and avoid long-term care, we need to support caregivers in the right ways. Angus Campbell

Chronicle Herald More (May 27, 2018)

All these medications! Taking more than five medications is known as polypharmacy, and 66 per cent of Canadians over the age of 65 are in that group. You may be surprised to learn that 27 per cent of Canadian seniors are taking at least 10 medications. Another group for which polypharmacy is common is those living with disabilities. Angus Campbell

Chronicle Herald More (May 27, 2018)

Seniors Strategy must address issues of aging. Canadians 65 years and older now outnumber children 14 years and under, which means our needs as a society are changing. We are succeeding in shifting the aging curve through preventive interventions and better public health — that’s good news. But the changing demographic is causing strains in our health and social care supports. How can Canada rise to the challenge? Russell Williams & John Muscedere

Winnipeg Free Press (May 14, 2018), Troy Media (May 16, 2018), Hamilton Spectator(May 16, 2018), eHospice.com (May 17, 2018), Olds Albertan (May 22, 2018), Whitehorse Daily Star (May 23, 2018), Hill-Times Health Policy Briefing (June 4, 2018)

Comment le concept de «fragilité» peut améliorer et même sauver notre système de santé fracturé“L’évolution démographique exerce des pressions sur nos systèmes de soutien en santé et services sociaux. De quelle manière le Canada peut-il relever ce défi?”Russell Williams et John Muscedere

Le “Huffington Post (20 juillet 2018)

National Advance Care Planning Day. Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of “Advance Care Planning,” but what exactly is it? And why is it significant and what are the implications for caregivers? Angus Campbell

Chronicle Herald More (March 26, 2018)

Caregiver benefits, only in N.S. Let’s face it, caregiving can be expensive. One of the most common questions we are asked at Caregivers Nova Scotia is whether there are any financial support programs for family and friends who provide care for their loved ones. Angus Campbell

Chronicle Herald More (January 30, 2018)

Let’s discuss end-of-life issues – nowMany people have been faced with critical decisions for family and friends who are at the end of their lives. This can stress and burden family members trying to navigate the social and health care systems even as they face impending loss and grief. Sharon Kaasalainen and Tamara Sussman

Ottawa Citizen (January 23, 2018), Ottawa Life Magazine (January 26, 2018), The Province (January 30, 2018), Huffington Post (January 31, 2018), Medicine Hat News(February 5, 2018)

Cette année, faites un cadeau à vos proches. Le congé des Fêtes est un moment propice pour entamer une discussion sur vos volontés de fin de vie. Tamara Sussman et Sharon Kaasalainen

Le Droit (27 décembre 2017), Huffington Post Quebec (27 décembre 2017)

We need to listen to voices of older patients. Older adults must have a voice in policy and program priority setting if we are to implement systems that are responsive to their needs.  Katherine McGilton and John Muscedere

Toronto Star (January 3, 2018 online; December 27, 2017 print), Our Windsor(January 3, 2018), Ottawa Life Magazine (January 5, 2018), Troy Media (January 7, 2018), New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal (January 8, 2018), Vancouver Province(January 9, 2018), Whitehorse Daily Star (January 9, 2018), Brandon Sun (January 9, 2018), Fredericton Daily Gleaner (January 9, 2018), Hamilton Spectator (January 10, 2018), Guelph Mercury (January 10, 2018), Waterloo Region Record (January 10, 2018), New Hamburg Independent (January 10, 2018), Moncton Times and Transcript (January 10, 2018), Saskatoon Star Pheonix (January 11, 2018), Regina Leader Post (January 11, 2018), Huffington Post (January 25, 2018), Home and LongTerm Care News (February 2, 2018)

Nous devons écouter la voix des personnes fragilisée. Les personnes fragilisées sont plus à risque d’avoir des problèmes de santé et de décéder plus rapidement que ce à quoi on devrait s’attendre. Katherine McGilton et John Muscedere

Huffington Post Quebec (26 janvier 2018)

Finding practical gifts for caregivers. Caregivers need to allow their families, friends, and neighbours to help. Almost everyone understands (or should) that caregivers face daily challenges — people want to help, but they often don’t know how. Angus Campbell

Halifax Herald More (November 29, 2017)

Look out for malnutrition, frailty — particularly in seniors. Estimates suggest 30-45% of patients at an average age of 65 years are malnourished at admission to hospital, costing our hospital system approximately $2 billion a year. — Heather Keller & Leah Gramlich

Winnipeg Free Press (October 12, 2017), Medicine Hat News (October 14, 2017), Ottawa Life (October 16, 2017), The Province (October 22, 2017), Windsor Star(October 23, 2017), Huffington Post (December 14, 2017)

En français: Politiques Options (2017 octobre), Huffington Post Québec (2017 octobre 29)

How healthy is the Canadian health-care system? Canada’s health-care system is a point of Canadian pride. While highly regarded, it is expensive and faces several challenges, exacerbated by the changing health landscape in an aging society. What is needed for a sustainable health future? — Chris Simpson, David Walker, Don Drummond, Duncan Sinclair & Ruth Wilson.

This article was originally published on The Conversation, an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. — September 24, 2017. It also ran in The National Post (September 25, 2017).

Dependent seniors need better oral health care. Continued oral health care in later years is crucial for seniors, but can be difficult to maintain. — Mary McNally

Winnipeg Free Press (July 17, 2017), Medicine Hat News (July 26, 2017), Moncton Times & Transcript (July 26, 2017), Huffington Post (July 27, 2017), Halifax News 95.7 Interview on the Sheldon McLeod Show (July 27, 2017), Trail Daily Times (July 27, 2017), Saint John Telegraph-Journal (July 29, 2017), Waterloo Region Record (July 29, 2017)

The many obstacles to health-care improvements. A series of daunting factors have led to the public’s passive acceptance of paying high costs for a narrow range of services of mediocre quality. — Don Drummond, Duncan Sinclair, Chris Simpson, David Walker.

Toronto Star (Apr. 26, 2017)

Cycling in ICU optimizes recovery for critically ill. Frail and critically ill patients can safely bike in the intensive care unit, even early in their ICU stay. — Michelle Kho

Winnipeg Free Press (Feb. 1, 2017), Vancouver Province (Feb.6, 2017), Huffington Post (Feb. 7, 2017), Troy Media (Feb. 3, 2017), Battlefords News-Optimist (Feb. 9, 2017)

Also featured in the popular blog The Caregivers Living Room, and subsequently tweeted by André Picard and retweeted by the New York Times Well Blog and Kaiser Health News, among others.

Click here to learn more about this CFN-funded research (CAT2014-06).

Celebrate new year by putting end-of-life wishes at top of to-do list. Tell family and friends your health-care preferences in case someday you can’t speak for yourself. — John Muscedere

CBC News online (Jan. 14, 2017), Huffington Post (Jan. 19, 2017)

Also published in: The Daily Times (Jan. 27, 2017), Vancouver Province (Jan. 21, 2017)

Frailty and the new ageism. Not everyone of the same age has the same number of health problems. Those with the most health problems are frail. And when they are frail, they do worse. Often, those with frailty do worse because health care remains focused on single-system illness. Our success with a single-illness approach has biased us to think this is the approach we should always take. What we do in our health system now fails older people who might benefit if we provided better care. In that way, it fails us all. Attitudes must change. — Kenneth Rockwood

Hill Times (Jan. 9, 2017) Also published in: Hospital News (March), Huffington Post (Feb. 7, 2017), Options Politiques (Feb. 7, 2017), Winnipeg Free Press (Feb. 3, 2017), The Tribune (Jan. 20, 2017), Moncton Times & Transcript (Jan. 18, 2017), Olds Albertan (Jan. 17, 2017), Waterloo Region Record (Jan. 16, 2017), Brandon Sun (Jan. 16, 2017), Medicine Hat News (Jan. 14, 2017)

Also retweeted by André Picard, Globe & Mail columnist (Jan. 14, 2017) and David Oliver (Jan. 14, 2017), among others.

Getting the flu shot this year? Here’s why you should: And in case you heard the rumour — no, influenza vaccines do not cause the flu. — John Muscedere

CBC News online (Dec. 9, 2016)

Also published in: Huffington Post (Dec. 14, 2016)Victoria Times ColumnistThe Province (Dec. 17, 2016)Battlefords News-Optimist (Dec. 19, 2016)Le Droit (Jan. 3, 2017), Le Huffington Post (Jan. 10, 2017),

Palliative care is the orphan of the Canadian health system: With good palliative care, we can live out our days relatively free of pain and suffering, confident that our physical, spiritual, and emotional needs are being met.  Fred Horne

Hill Times (Nov. 9, 2016)

Healthcare is 24/7: lllnesses and injuries occur independently of the clock and calendar. They have to be dealt with 24/7, 365 days a year. Sadly, that fact seems to have been overtaken by nine to five-ism in too many parts of our so-called healthcare system. —Duncan Sinclair

Longwoods (Nov. 3, 2016)

Why ‘frailty’ matters: Addressing the specific needs of Canada’s frail older adults would improve health outcomes and quality of life – and reduce health costs. — John Muscedere & Fred Horne

CBC News online (Oct. 15, 2016). Also published in: Huffington Post (Oct. 24, 2016)Ottawa Life (Oct. 2016), Canadian Healthcare Manager (paywall), Troy Media (Oct. 28, 2016)Waterloo Record (Nov. 2, 2016), Battleford News Optimist (Nov. 5, 2016), Slave Lake Lakeside Leader (Nov. 9, 2016),

Tweeted by: @picardonhealth (Oct. 23, 2016), among others

Canadian Frailty Network Brief to the federal Finance Committee 2017 pre-budget consultations. We believe that frailty should be incorporated into federal healthcare funding models, and that by implementing frailty assessment in the healthcare system and producing evidence-based interventions and practices, true socioeconomic benefit to Canadians will result including improved quality of life and more efficient healthcare resource utilization. Click here to read our submission — Ensuring a more equitable healthcare system: addressing the needs of Canada’s frail elderly.

New Health Accord Should Consider a Model Based on Frailty: Discusses how it is necessary for the new Health Accord promised within the coming year by Health Minister Jane Philpott to include a better understanding of frailty — John Muscedere & Samir Sinha

Huffington Post (July 26, 2016). Also published in: Ottawa LifeWaterloo Region Record, Times & Transcript (Moncton), Times Colonist (Victoria), The Province (Vancouver), longwoods.comNetNewsLedger (Thunder Bay)

Canadians Need To Be Having End-Of-Life Conversations:  Emphasizes the importance of Advanced Care Planning, and how it is important to do so immediately, before it is too late an individual is unable to make medical decisions for him or herself. – Michelle Howard

Huffington Post (Jan. 5, 2016). Also published in: Halifax Daily Chronicle, Fredericton Daily Gleaner, Winnipeg Free Press, Welland Tribune, Niagara Falls Review, Simcoe Reformer, St. Catharines Standard, Stratford Beacon-Herald, Woodstock Sentinel-Review, Chatham Daily News, Victoria Times Colonist, Waterloo Region Record

Why patients at the end of life may not be receiving the best care: Instituting a medical approach that puts the comfort of patients first would help address the real needs of patients nearing the end of life. — James Downar & John Muscedere

Policy Options Politiques magazine (Jan. 4, 2016)

Also published in: Troy MediaHuffington PostVictoria Times Colonist, Waterloo Region Record, Fredericton Daily Gleaner, Moncton Times & Transcript, Stratford Beacon-Herald

Spreading a better model of hospital care for older Canadians: By spreading best practices across provincial and territorial boundaries, we can ensure that older adults receive the care they need while also controlling costs, directing resources to the right places, and providing for the long-term sustainability of our publicly funded health-care systems. — Samir Sinha

Ottawa Hill Times (Dec. 4, 2015)

Canada Must Address The Health Needs Of Its Aging Population: The risk of becoming frail increases with age, but the two are not synonymous, and factors like poverty and social isolation play a part. Poorer health outcomes for older seniors are surprising considering rising health budgets. Improving the quality of care for older Canadians means recognizing frailty and integrating evidence-based models of treatment and care. — Russell Williams, CFN Board Chair

Huffington Post (Nov. 25, 2015)

Respecting the needs wants of the elderly and frail. “My needs and wants, then, add up to a short list: respect for my continued dignity and personhood; staying in my home; no pain or suffering; and not being a burden to others. Major changes to health-care policies and practices are needed to meet those needs.” — Duncan Sinclair

Globe & Mail (July 14, 2015)