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Thursday, 13 March 2014

What do we do about Canada's aging population?

by Bede Eke

Join Dr. Bede Eke for a discussion of “The State of Pracademia in Edmonton”, 5:00pm, Wednesday, March 26, 2014.  Click here for more information and to register.

Three things everyone should know about population aging in Canada:

  1. As the baby boomer generation grows older, Canada does have a much older population today than it has in the past.

  2. Research has shown that growing heath care costs have little or nothing to do with older people’s utilization of the health care system; these costs have been growing due to a number of factors, including increased usage by everybody, not just seniors.

  3. Canada is not the only country in the world facing an aging population; most of the Western world is dealing with this same issue.

Three myths about population aging in Canada:

Myth #1: Population aging will cause economic crisis for Canada.

Reality:  This is an over-exaggeration and misrepresentation of facts. The reality is that the older population as a group is not an economic burden. A majority of them are economically secure: have no mortgage to pay, have investments, and are relatively healthy. Many of them engage in volunteer services after retirement, which is a great support to the economy. If these services are quantified in dollar terms, they amount to billions of dollars annually.

Myth #2: Retirement makes people feel lonely and dejected, and subsequently they get sick and die not long after retirement.

Reality: In the 21st Century Canada and the US, average life expectancy has increased significantly to about 83 years for females and 78 years for males. Even though a lot of people retire from formal employment between ages 60 and 65, many of them live 10-25 years after retirement. Their retirement period is marked by social and economic activities such as volunteering, consultancy services, mentoring, traveling, and other forms of leisure. Very few seniors feel isolated, sick, and die shortly (3-5 years) after retirement

Myth #3: The majority of old people live in institutions.

Reality: Only about 7-8 percent of seniors live in institutions.  For those aged 65-74 years, only 2.2% live institutions; for those 74-85, only 8.2% live in an institution; while for those 86 and over, 31.6% lived in an institution according to Statistics Canada (2007). Actually, the percentage of seniors living in institutions is in decline today when compared to some decades ago. For example, 8.8% of seniors lived in an institution in 1981, compared to 7.4% that did so in 2001.

Join Dr. Bede Eke for a discussion of “The State of Pracademia in Edmonton”, 5:00pm, Wednesday, March 26, 2014.  Click here for more information and to register.

Dr. Bede Eke is an educator, a broad-chest social scientist, and multi-disciplinary scholar. He holds the Bachelor of Science degree in Education and Political Science, two Master’s degrees in Social Gerontology and Political Science respectively and a Doctorate degree in Political Science. He has more than three years’ management experience in student affairs, and more than eight years’ teaching experience at the college/university level. He is also experienced in curriculum development and online teaching. He is a social policy researcher and commentator, and has written peer-reviewed social policy journal articles. He currently teaches in the Departments of Sociology and Political Science at the University of Alberta, and in Political Science Department at MacEwan University. Over the years Dr. Eke has taught several courses in Political Science and Sociology including sociology of aging.

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