FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Council on Aging has presented its recommendations in a new strategy entitled We Are All in This Together.

Seniors and Long-Term Care Minister Lisa Harris thanked council members for their work, and said it is important that New Brunswick has a strategy that will improve the aging experience, from prevention and primary health care to home care and residential facilities.

“We are listening to New Brunswickers, and we know how important it is to have seniors healthy, happy and in their homes, where they want to be,’’ said Harris. “In the coming weeks, we will be better able to respond to this strategy and develop an implementation plan.”

Health Minister Victor Boudreau also thanked council members and all New Brunswickers who contributed to the council’s work.

“By having more community-based health and wellness programs, being more innovative and making use of research and technology, we will offer seniors the care and support they need, when they need it, and in the most appropriate setting for them,” said Boudreau.

The 17-member council, created last February, was asked to develop a strategy that addresses short-term sustainability and long-term changes in order to balance the needs of the aging population with rising costs and pressures on the health-care system.

“We have reached the point where a cultural shift is required to transform the way we think about aging in New Brunswick,” said council co-chair Ken McGeorge. “Today marks the beginning of shaping a new vision of the aging experience for New Brunswickers.”

The strategy focuses on independent living and person-centred care for seniors. Proposed actions include making the province more age-friendly and establishing New Brunswick as a leader in aging research and social innovation.

The council urges families, communities, municipalities, private and non-profit sectors, and the government to work collaboratively to implement the strategy’s recommendations over the next 10 years.

“Our seniors should have opportunities to be informed, healthy and active, independent and involved in community and family life,” said council co-chair Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard. “At the same time, we must have a sustainable system of care at home or in other care settings where seniors receive respect and support from well-trained staff and in the official language of their choice.”

Other recommendations focus on development of a dementia strategy to ensure the province is prepared for an increase in the number of people with dementia; improving training and incentives for caregivers; and enhancing communication among health professionals to better co-ordinate care.

Fostering healthy aging for seniors is one of the pillars of the New Brunswick Family Plan, the framework of which was launched last week.

The plan will focus government action in seven priority areas that determine overall health: fostering healthy aging and support for seniors; improving access to primary and acute care; promoting wellness; supporting people with mental health challenges; advancing women’s equality; reducing poverty; and supporting people with disabilities.