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Our aging population affects all of us.

Jan 24, 2023

Adults over 65  are the fastest-growing segment of Canada’s population. With that demographic shift, comes new challenges. We’re working to advance knowledge about aging and to help make sure we all have access to appropriate, high-quality care and support as we age.

Quick facts about aging in Canada

  • For the first time in recorded history, there are more Canadians age 65 and over than there are under age 15. More than 6.5 million Canadians are 65 or older.
  • As a society, we use the term ‘seniors’ to refer to people who are over 65, and that’s a diverse group. There are differences between life at age 65, 75 and 85-plus. Add to this, variations in ethnicity, geography, education and socioeconomic status. That’s one reason more research is needed—‘Seniors’ aren’t a homogeneous group.
  • There’s a shortage of geriatric specialists in Canada – there are just over 300 across the country. That’s only 1 for every 22,000 Canadians over 65. Geriatric specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect older adults.
  • A wide range of health care professionals, from pharmacists to occupational therapists, work with older adults all the time. They need increased training on serving the seniors population.

Three significant challenges of Canada’s aging population

Here are some issues we’re helping to address:

Supporting friend and family caregivers

The reliance on family and friend caregivers is increasing in Canada. An estimated 3.8 million Canadians aged 45 or older are providing unpaid care to an older adult with a short- or long-term health condition. Friend and family caregivers reduce demand on the health care system, but their care giving can take a toll on them and can have societal impacts. Friend and family caregivers experience economic, social and health-related consequences. Thanks to the support of our donors, we recently granted funds to research projects focused on better understanding this issue.

Promoting social engagement

Not only is the thought of being forgotten in old age heartbreaking, but the impact of social isolation on our society is far-reaching and expensive. It’s estimated that 30 percent of older adults are at risk of social isolation. We can do more to keep each other connected and active. Each October, we run our Social Isolation Awareness Month campaign to raise funds and shine a light on this issue.

Educating health care professionals about working with older adults

There’s a shortage of geriatric specialists across the country—there are just over 300 in Canada. While it’s essential to increase the number of medical students who pursue geriatrics as a specialty, it is also critical to make sure general practitioners and other health care professionals have training in how to support older populations. This is one of the topics the RTOERO Chair in Geriatric Medicine is helping to address with her research group at the University of Toronto.