Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hatch and Dispatch

"I think people are feeling a little, either lost -- that 'this is just how the system is[' -- or they are expecting that support is going to be there when they get to that age or that situation and finding out that it's not."
"The majority of our clients come to us in a crisis, and they're shocked ... or people who need home care, or are going to a retirement home. People don't realize this stuff isn't covered."
Kyla Cullain, registered nurse, founder, Next Step Transition

Age happens. What could be more inevitable? Life's journey takes us on a slow but steady transition from birth to childhood, maturity to old age. Old age is the precursor to the finality of life. When existence becomes an issue of how much longer, when each day is precious and not to be wasted, and when the aging body starts its own journey of breakdowns and the mind becomes troubled with the certain knowledge that time is an essence beyond our control.

Proportion of population aged less than 15 years old and 65 years old and over, 1982 to 2036, Canada

Of a population of 35.9-million people there are now 5,580,900 Canadians 65 years of age or older. An amazing statistic when it is paired with the fact that there are now fewer Canadian children of 14 years of age and under than there are adult Canadians over 65. That proportion of the elderly population in the country comprises 16.1% of the total. But wait: by 2055 that number is set to rise to a projected quarter of the population: 25%.

At the present time the median age for women overall in Canada stands at 41.4, while for men that median age is 39.6. This does not bode well for the future of a country in need of youth to take their place in society, which is to say replacing the elderly who move from productivity in society to the temporary stasis and eventual disintegration when they depart this mortal coil.

Gloomy thoughts, all. But a reflection of reality. And so, with an eye to the future, little wonder it is that a country that was built on immigration continues to count on ongoing immigration to build up its population and its workforce. Immigrants from other countries bring to Canada their youth, their skills, their growth prospect in having families, all contributing to the welfare of the country.

All provinces are not equal; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan had a median age of 34.5 years in comparison to that of Ottawa, the capital in Ontario, at 39.1. New Brunswick, points out Statistics Canada, has the largest proportion of people age 65 or older at 19 percent, while Nunavut has the smallest at 3.7 percent. According to StatsCan, the general population is "aging more slowly in the territories and Prairie provinces" with more children age 14 and under than elsewhere in the country.

health expenditures per capita by age group
Needless to say, the elderly are more costly to society, requiring medical care at a greater rate, more frequently than other portions of the population, as they age. The care and concern for their well-being is a problem that governments at all levels focus on because there is an obvious need to do so. Problem is, with fewer people available to be employed, pay taxes and ensure that the wherewithal to continue social programs benefiting the elderly, the issue of affordability arises.

Canada is certainly not unique in its ageing population and the relative decline in birth rates resulting in a lopsided population base; too few youth, too many aged. Of the industrialized countries of the world, this is an issue that is common to all, one that Japan, as an example, has been struggling with for many years. Among G7 nations the United States alone with 15 percent of its population in the elderly category is lower than Canada's 16.1 percent.

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