It’s no secret: Canada is getting greyer. For the first time in history, the proportion of the population over age 65 is now larger than those under the age of 15. The senior demographic is expected to continue growing over the coming decades as well. Statistics Canada has predicted that, by 2036, as many as one in four Canadians will be a senior.
What does this mean for Canadian society? There are some profound impacts, to be sure.
As the population continues to age, there will be more retirees and fewer working-age Canadians. This will shrink the tax base. Governments will have fewer resources to draw on when it comes to filling their coffers from income taxes.
This could mean the federal and provincial governments alike will need to tighten their purse strings. This could mean reduced social services, which contradicts some of the other impacts of an aging population.
Increased Health Care Needs
As people get older, they tend to have more health care needs. Whether it’s because they develop a chronic condition, such as arthritis, or because they develop a terminal disease, such as cancer, older people tend to rely more heavily on the health care system than younger people.
The result will be increasing strain on Canada’s public health care system, especially since there are fewer taxpayers to foot the bill. The system may turn to offering subsidies for care from private practices and providers. More people will turn to private care to provide excellent care for their older relatives.
It’s not all bad news, of course. Many initiatives from all corners of society are now aimed at helping seniors live their most fulfilling life. Private health care providers assist elderly patients living on their own, perhaps managing their medication, providing laundry services, or helping them get to appointments.
Government-funded programs, such as public health initiatives, are aimed at addressing seniors’ needs. Some charity groups offer senior-focused programs for promoting physical health, mental wellbeing, and even social connections.
As the senior population in Canada grows, so too will the number of caretakers. As mentioned, older people tend to suffer more from health ailments. These range from minor, manageable conditions, to more serious, long-term illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s or pulmonary disease.
More people will find it necessary to provide care for their elderly relatives. This will lead to better regulations around caretaker leave. It will also lead to better recognition of how important “care for the caretakers” is.
Not everyone will take time off work to assist in an elderly relative’s care. There will also be a number of people who hire private practice to provide quality care for their elderly relatives. On the whole, you can expect to see an increasing number of caretakers, both professional and otherwise, in Canada.
More Long-Term Care Options
Another trend in the senior population in Canada is longevity. Not only are there more seniors than ever before, people are also living longer!
As a result, there will be a rise in the number of longer-term care facilities and options. As people age, they may become less independent, requiring long-term care. Already, Canada is facing a crisis in a shortage of long-term beds.
Many people will try to stay in their own homes as long as possible. Services dedicated to helping people achieve this goal will become more abundant. Some caretakers will opt to move their elderly relatives in with them to provide around-the-clock care. They may get extra help from professionals.
A Profoundly Different Society
The growing senior population in Canada is going to reshape Canadian society in the years to come. Servicing the needs of the aging population will be a key challenge over the next few decades.