By Alison Bonnyman, Secretary, OPA Board of Directors

I was very pleased to be a part of the CPA Forum on Promoting Healthy Aging. Admittedly, it took some family persuasion to be away on the July long weekend, but it was worth it.  Healthy Aging is a very timely topic both professionally, as we realize our impact on the future of healthcare, and personally, as I manage my frail parents and head boldly to 60. However, the conference was myth-busting, positive, interactive and insightful. I am so proud to report that there are many grassroots PT initiatives addressing activity and mobility all over the country.

Dr. Samir K. Sinha – How Physiotherapists Can Lead the Promotion of Healthy Ageing within a National Seniors Strategy

The opening speaker was Dr Sinha, who asked us “In your lifetime, do you want to live in a long-term care home?” After a resounding ‘NO’, the next question was why are we building more long-term care homes? He summarized the Ontario Senior’s Strategy which is being recognized/adapted federally. This so called ‘tsunami’ of the aging demographic has been known for decades. Unfortunately, we are only just acting on it in this last decade. I appreciated the statistical reminder that only a small percentage of adults over 65 years of age require most healthcare dollars. Having attended the OPA Forum in April, it was exciting to align the messaging of active aging, physical literacy, and PJ paralysis. There is another way to manage this ‘tsunami’ and physiotherapy is the strong thread throughout the continuum of health.

Benefits of Networking

I met new colleagues and renewed connections. It is refreshing to be reminded of the breadth of amazing physiotherapists working in a broad spectrum of healthcare and innovative career paths. Many PTs attending work in Family Health Teams and homecare, and although challenged by budgets, they are creating active, interprofessional community programming. In Nova Scotia, there is the ‘Walk with the Doc’ on Saturday mornings at a local indoor track, with as many of the Family Health Team staff present as possible, everyone benefits! Physical activity is associated with social isolation so we need to create social interventions, with a reminder to attend to the ‘cognitive loading’ when engaged in activity. Those working in palliative homecare were inspiring to talk to and helped explain their role to mitigate end-of-life distress. It got me thinking that that is what we all do so well- reduce distress with compassion, communication and education.

Research Inspiration

I am always energized by the research presentations and posters. At all presentations there was an opportunity to break into groups, discuss issues, share work experiences and offer our opinion in a safe and non-judgmental way. It was very apparent that we are all working with different perspectives- personal, professional and provincial, but we have a singular passion for physiotherapy. We just have to keep talking, communicating and networking; sharing ideas and solutions. There is strength nationally.

Proud to be a member

I am a proud OPA member and a proud Board member. I know that OPA has a strong, active and experienced team in advocating for the profession and is a key stakeholder consulted by government on many issues affecting Ontarians. The Forum showed me how much stronger we are as a profession because OPA and CPA work together and share resources to advocate for better access to physiotherapy for all, regardless of age.