Since 2010, the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Ageing (CLSA) has followed over 50,000 Canadians to gain a better understanding of changing health patterns as people age. Accordingly, the CLSA has just released a new set of data gathered from the years 2010 to 2015.
Results from the CLSA debunk the stereotypical “grey tsunami” metaphor that describes population ageing as a threat to the healthcare system due to an increase in chronic diseases. The results contradict this assumption by showing that over 90 percent of study participants between the ages 45 and 85 described their health as good, very good or excellent, even amongst those aged 75 and older.
While later life is associated with an increased likelihood of ill-health, it is not as catastrophic as many people assume, as most conditions are manageable. The International Federation on Ageing (IFA), in agreeance with the World Health Organization, support this view, regarding functional ability as an important measure to healthy ageing as it takes into consideration that an individual with a chronic disease can do what they reasonably value in life through a supportive and enabling environment.
The CLSA is crucial to guiding policies related to health, social care, and the ageing population in general. For example, the CLSA discovered that an increasing amount (38 percent) of people aged 45 to 85 are providing informal care to loved ones. These findings highlight the need for respite care and flexible workplace policies so that caregivers can continue to live in good health. To gain further insight about the societal and health implications of caregiving in later life, contact IFA Expert Prof. Ariela Lowenstein.
In addition, the study found that 85 percent of the participants were home-owners, meaning policies and innovations should be implemented to allow people to continue to live safely in their own home. To learn more about the importance of policies that allow ageing in place, contact IFA Expert Prof. Yitzhak Brick.
In summary, population ageing in Canada will not necessarily result in a ‘tsunami’ of poor health and healthcare spending, but does require innovative policies, programs and healthcare suited to the specific needs of the population. To gain more knowledge based on scientific evidence and connect with top experts in the field of ageing, consider attending the IFA 2018 Global Conference on Ageing (www.IFA2018.com), based in Toronto, Ontario from August 8-10.
Prof. Ariela Lowenstein Head, Social Gerontology Center for Research
Professor Lowenstein's research specializes in intergenerational family relations and caregiving