Canadian Seniors – living longer and healthier lives

There are one million more Canadians who are 65 or older today than there were a decade ago. According to the National Advisory Council on Aging, most seniors are better off today than ever before. The Council released a report this month saying most seniors are healthier and wealthier than their parents and grandparents.

Council chairwoman Pat Raymaker says todays seniors are far more involved in society as paid workers and volunteers. “Canada’s oldest citizens are a diverse group with many needs but they’re also better able to contribute”. The council chairwoman also said older Canadians aren’t a fringe group but affect every facet of life. And their impact will grow.

In 1998, about 3.7 million Canadians, 12.3 per cent of the population, were 65 or older – one million more than 10 years earlier. By 2041, this number is expected to jump to 10 million or almost one-quarter of the population.

^When it comes to comparing how Canadian seniors fare with seniors in other parts of the world, Canadians live longer and are in better health than seniors in other parts of the world.

But the Council didn’t paint an entirely rosy picture. According to the report, tnty-six per cent of senior women have low incomes, compared with 11 per cent of men. In 1996, women accounted for 58 per cent of the senior population, and 70 per cent of those aged 85 and more.

A woman who is 65 can expect to live an average of four years longer than a man the same age.

The council, which presented its report to Health Minister Allan Rock, will keep pushing seniors concerns. “Whether they are the funding cuts that reverse past seniors gains, benefits and services, the lack of integration in our system of care or the need for research in aging-related diseases, our document points out where improvements are needed”, Raymaker said.