Planning for old age is made more difficult when it seems impossible to know how long individuals will live, what care they will require, and what responsibility family caregivers will be expected to bear. But a new online calculator can now help predict how long seniors have remaining in their lifespan, giving loved ones a better sense of what the future holds.
According to a recent Global News report, The Risk Evaluation for Support: Predictions for Elder-Life in the Community Tool (RESPECT) is able to predict death within six months. The digital tool was developed using data from more than 491,000 community-dwelling seniors over the age of 50 who used home care between 2007 and 2013.
Statistics Canada’s most recent report shows that life expectancy at birth stopped rising for the first time in four decades in 2019 as a result of the opioid crisis. On average, Canadian women can expect to live until 84 years of age and men to 79.9 years. Older adults are dying at a slower rate than young adults as a result of better treatment outcomes for cancer and circulatory diseases.
Researchers at the Bruyère Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada say the tool allows families to better plan for the future and make the most of the time they have left with their elderly loved one. The tool can also be used by physicians, home care staff, and palliative care professionals to ensure patients receive the appropriate treatment.
With a better understanding of remaining lifespan, elderly adults nearing end-of-life can receive care that focuses primarily on comfort and helps to support the best quality of life possible. But critics of the calculator say that the tool could lead to ethical questions and create biases within the healthcare system, influencing the delivery of services, especially for more vulnerable seniors.
Learn more about how the RESPECT online tool was developed by following this link to a research article published in the July 2021 Canadian Medical Association Journal.