Super-Aged Canada: A Look at the Aging Population in Canada


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By Joyce Wayne

By the early 2030s, Canada will join the ranks of other “super-aged” countries, such as Japan and Germany, according to the final report of the National Institute on Ageing’s “road map” for improved long-term care services. This report focuses on community support rather than traditional nursing homes as a solution to Canada’s rapidly aging population.

Entitled “Enabling a More Promising Future for Long-term Care in Canada,” the NIA’s innovative study recommends policies focused on evidence-based, person-centred care along with new technologies that support more viable solutions for care in the home or what the NIA describes as “Ageing in the Right Place.”

In Moira Welsh’s Toronto Star coverage of the report, she quotes Dr. Samir Sinha, the NIA’s director of health policy research, who says this report “makes clear that the current path forward is completely unsustainable and will not meet the needs of current or future older Canadians.” According to Dr. Sinha, “We’re going to have 30 percent fewer available family caregivers in 30 years and 70 percent more older people needing those services.” Moira Welsh is the Toronto Star journalist leading The Third Act project, pushing for changes to the way older adults live.

Dr. Sinha tells Welsh, “I think it’s not just our long-term care systems but our entire healthcare system that will collapse if we don’t take progressive action now.” In 2021, more than 52,000 Canadians were on waiting lists for placement in an LTC home, while about 167,000 Canadians 65 and older were estimated to have unmet home-care needs, the report noted.

Those with higher unmet care needs were reported in households in areas with lower socioeconomic status, creating inequities among people with lower incomes, the report also explained.

Aging Successfully at Home 

It stands to reason that many of us are planning to age successfully and safely in our own homes. It’s top of mind. In the coming years, our reliance on unpaid family-driven care will increase, yet only some live close to their children. My husband and I have one daughter, and it’s not reasonable to expect that she sustains a career and cares for a family of her own without us arranging for community or private care so we’re able to age in place. If I even think about moving, what comes to mind instantly is where I could find a new doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, hairdresser, and the other services that I’ve relied on throughout the years.

As the growing number of older Canadians accelerate the demand for care and support, those available to help out are diminishing. It’s estimated the number of Canadians “who will require unpaid caregivers is expected to rise to 700,000 from 345,000 by 2050.”

Recently, we’ve arranged for some renovations to our home: grab bars in the shower being the first. Because we live in a townhouse, I expect we’ll be considering safety measures for the stairs before too long. These measures are helpful, but on their own, they don’t address the long-term or acute healthcare challenges of aging at home.

As Welsh reports, “Calling for a new emphasis on funding and programs for community support, the report noted that recent figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that in Canada, 64 percent of funding for “long-term care” (defined as care in the community and institutions) goes to the traditional bricks-and-mortar nursing homes. Another 15 percent goes to hospitals and 18 percent to community care.”

Those numbers will need to change, with more funding going to in-home, community-generated care if people like us will be able to age in place without relying solely on unpaid family-driven care. Suppose we are to enjoy our aging journey. In that case, I’m counting on our governments to address this profound change in demographics, to reach out to countries that have implemented new methods to support aging at home, and to find the dollars while supporting the professional training and expertise that will bolster our reasonable determination to age in place.  


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