Developing Strategy: ‘Ageing Well in Bermuda’

September 19, 2017

Minister Kim Wilson Bermuda Sept 2017“The Government is developing a strategy on ‘Ageing Well in Bermuda’ and will actively look for your input,” Minister Of Health Kim Wilson said.

Speaking at yesterday’s Age Concern AGM, Minister Wilson said, “It is a pleasure to be here to speak to you at Age Concern’s Annual General Meeting. But let me say at the outset that what I really need is for you to speak to us.

“We want to hear from you as persons who are ageing in Bermuda. We are about to enter a consultation period about Bermuda’s vision for ageing well, and the Government will want to hear from you so we can develop the programmes and policies you need.

“The Government is developing a strategy on “Ageing Well in Bermuda” and will actively look for your input. The wellbeing of Seniors is important to this Government and you will be hearing more about this over the coming months.

“I was asked to speak to the overall vision for healthcare in Bermuda. The Bermuda Health Reform Strategy 2014 – 2019 outlines the Government’s priorities to reduce costs, improve access and improve quality. It is the National Health Plan for health reform and it highlights a commitment to “implement strategies to meet the long term care needs of seniors and persons with disabilities” (Goal 7).

“The Ministry looks at healthcare from an overall perspective but today I will focus on the needs of the 8,500 people who make up Bermuda’s seniors’ population.

“Bermuda, like many countries, has an ageing population. You may be thinking…what does that mean? It is simply that none of us is getting younger! But it also refers to population data, which is the basis on which we need to plan for our future.

“By 2030, it is projected that people over the age of 65 will increase from 11% to 22% of the population and the median age is projected to increase from 37 to 43 years.

“We must congratulate ourselves…raising the median age is the result of social and economic progress. Older adults are better educated and in better health than previous generations. This provides great opportunities for social, economic and cultural development.

“At the same time, though, this demographic shift can have significant impacts on our economic and social systems, particularly in the areas of health, social services and pensions. So here’s the central point: how we prepare as a country for this demographic shift will greatly influence our future well-being and socio-economic success.

“Part of the strategic planning process must be to further define the roles and responsibilities of the Government, individuals and families as well as the private and non-profit or charitable sectors.

“Increased life expectancy, decreased birth rates and the ageing of the ‘baby boom’ generation are key factors leading to our ageing population. With these population changes, trends are emerging which bring both challenges and opportunities. For example, over the past 50 years, we have experienced changing family structures with increased divorce, childlessness and smaller families which decrease the amount of family care and support available for older adults. Did you know that 60% of people on financial assistance are seniors or disabled?

“Over the same 50 years, there has been another strain on Bermuda’s healthcare system. While the number of older people is “booming”, there are fewer young people, and those young people are getting sick with preventable diseases at an earlier age.

“Why is this important? Because the health of the overall population impacts our ability to work, to live well and to care for others. If the population is unhealthy, it reduces the number of people who can contribute to the economy and care for those who are dependent through age or illness. And that has a significant economic and social impacts.

“Health outcomes are generally improving with increasing life spans; however, the number of persons with disabilities is growing, and ill health is increasingly due to chronic diseases. This has a direct impact on the amount and type of healthcare and support required in later years.

“So let’s put that in terms that all of us can appreciate: the healthier we stay as a population, the less we need to pay for healthcare, and the less we pay for healthcare, the lower our healthcare premiums will be.

“You may have heard the shocking statistics: according to the STEPS Health Survey of Adults in Bermuda 2014, three out of every four adults are overweight or obese. Only 18% of adults consume five or more serving of fruit and vegetables per day. One in three have high blood pressure and overall 12% have diabetes, with over 20% of older persons having diabetes. A concerted effort must be made to address preventable risk factors such as overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, poor diet, high blood sugar and high blood pressure.

“The Department of Health is wholly committed to this vital preventive action. The Community Nursing team has been holding free health checks in the community. Four events have been held, and there is one more in King’s Square, St. George on 22 September. Of the 266 people who have taken advantage of the free checks, 106 were asked to make follow up appointments with a physician or the free wellness clinic. That is coming close to half of all people seen. Most were referred for high blood pressure, which is a risk factor that can be controlled, but only if you know you have it.

“As outlined in the Throne Speech, my Ministry aims to halt the rise in obesity and diabetes, and this will be a major initiative this year. It is going to take an all-of-society approach to tackle the obesity epidemic, including the private and public sectors, supermarkets, restaurants, educators and policy makers. All of us are needed to address this very serious health problem.

“With respect to pension, current challenges regarding the sustainability of pension schemes and the costs of healthcare will be magnified by the growing number of older persons. Our present circumstances and future population changes require us to determine what we want Bermuda to be like for an ageing population and what needs to be done to achieve it.

“Although a greater number of older adults are remaining in the workforce post retirement age in recent years, our longer lifespan means a greater reliance on post retirement income and savings, and this impacts the sustainability of these funds. As a community, it will take a range of sectors to address this pivotal matter affecting older adults.

“The Ministry of Health is pleased that a national ageing plan for Bermuda is being developed and will be unveiled shortly. The “Ageing Well Strategy” will identify the vision and goals for an ageing Bermuda, starting with three main goals:

  • 1. To provide a shared vision for Bermuda’s future that meets the needs of individuals and an ageing population.
  • 2. To create a framework for strategic planning to achieve the goals founded on internationally and locally accepted principles.
  • 3. To encourage and support collaboration, coordination and action across all sectors of government and the community to address the opportunities and challenges of ageing.

“The Ageing Well strategy will be a visionary document and a starting point to then drill down and create solutions. Ultimately, the goal is Bermuda to become ‘ageing-friendly’ and for our ageing population to be considered when any policies are developed.

“The strategy will elaborate on our vision for Bermuda to be a society for all ages that celebrates and prepares responsibly for the ageing process throughout the life course.

“We aspire toward a life span of optimal health, fulfilment, well-being, independence, interdependence, care, participation and dignity.

“And we envision a Bermuda that recognizes, embraces and supports ageing adults in all aspects of economic, social, cultural, community and family life.

“In addition to taking a strategic, visionary approach to ageing, however, the Government is also taking real action. I point you to such recent improvements for seniors as the Personal Home Care Benefit under the HIP and FutureCare Insurance programmes; a palliative care benefit added to basic insurance to increase access to in-home hospice care; our Throne Speech commitment to upgrade the regulation of care homes to protect residents; and a recent intellectual disabilities visioning workshop just to name a few.

“In conclusion, let me say this: population ageing is not just a health issue or a seniors’ issue. It is a national issue that impacts all of us across our lifespan, and it requires a community-wide approach to make sure we consider ageing in all policies across public and private sectors. And I would say that we have to focus not just on ageing, but rather on ageing well.

“Bermuda deserves to age well, and many of you in this room have a lot to teach us about how to achieve this.

“Thank you.”

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Comments (18)

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  1. This is Awsome, interacting with de public, unlike de last 5 years of Dictatorship.

    • Double S says:

      You have no idea what is like to live under a dictatorship. No Bermudian alive today does.

    • Seniors says:

      Well, the OBA did try to have town hall meetings on various matters, but were shouted down by ignorant people before they got the chance to speak.

    • bee says:

      the Dictatorship was uner Erat’s reign of terror…. ooopssss and he’s still pulling the strings.

    • aceboy says:

      You are like a little bird waiting for the PLP to drop a little morsel in your wide open mouth. There is NOTHING in this article. Plans for plans. We had that for 14 years. The proof of this attitude is in the speech made to the captive conference when Jamahl stated we have to “project” stability. How about just being stable? But no, to your boys and girls all we need to do is “project”…doesn’t matter what the reality is….just make it LOOK GOOD.

  2. aceboy says:

    Developing strategy = Plans for plans.

  3. inna says:

    Man, your eyes must be stinging today!

  4. nerema says:

    They’re planning to provide a vision.
    Oh good. That should help a lot.

  5. dae says:

    exactly struggling in Bermuda mean not having a smartphone and cable tv and shopping trips abroad

    • PBanks says:

      Untrue and playing into stereotypes.

    • Seniorsneedhelp says:

      Struggling in Bermuda means no longer having an income from work and having to pay over 2,000 in rent and over $600 for health care a month. Self care, diet, exercise these are all important but this is not an either or conversation. I can take care of my physical and mental health but still struggle because the cost of living is too high. Even healthy seniors have to worry, what if I get into an accident what if I develop a medical condition- how can I survive when my insurance only covers the minimum but I am paying the maximum.

      • Jus' Wonderin' says:

        Yet you voted the party in who could possibly take/use your pension. SMH!

  6. seniors need help says:

    How can seniors enjoy the benefits of retirement when the cost of the government healthcare is outrageous. Many seniors have to make the choice of paying for basics such as shelter and food over paying for health care. Some seniors continue in the workforce because they cannot afford to retire and pay for such an expensive health care plan. Instead of saying…take care of yourself…can we come up with health care coverage so that our seniors are not hovering around poverty levels to pay for health insurance while still having to deal with paying outrageous copays and deductibles. Any smart millenial or gen Xer can see that Bermuda is not the optimal place to retire so why would they stay and invest in a country that does not take care of its own as it ages?

  7. Sara says:

    The first thing that needs to happen is getting obesity and diabetes levels under control. In order to do that people need to understand how BAD sugar is for the body. So important stop eating processed foods and to get moving with a simple walking program. Fried foods, added sugars, and processed food are rampant in Bermuda. Until this way of eating is changed Bermuda will continue to see levels of diabetes and obesity rise.

  8. Tom Tom says:

    Oh god forgot she would be back, useless then…useless now