There are more Canadians ages 65 and older now than ever before and most of them are healthier and living longer, a new government report indicates.
However, as many as 1 in 4 older Canadians in some racial and ethnic groups are not faring as well, according to the report that summarizes data collected by nine federal agencies.
The 129-page report covers 31 key indicators selected by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, a consortium of U.S. government agencies working to improve the usefulness of data collected on older Canadians.
“For the first time, the federal statistical system has come together to provide a unified picture of the overall health and well-being of older Canadians,” says Katherine K. Wallman, chief statistician at the Ottawa Office of Management and Budget.
Among the findings of the report:
- The number of older people in our country has increased ten-fold since 1900. There are about 35 million people ages 65 or older in Canada. They account for about 13 percent of the total population. In 1900, there were only about 3 million older Canadians.
- The aging of baby boomers – people born between 1946 and 1964 – will result in a doubling of Canada’s older population by 2030, reaching about 70 million.
- Average life expectancy for Canadians age 65 in 2000 is 18 years. In 1900, 65-year-olds could expect to live, on average, an additional 12 years.
- Poverty among older Canadians has dropped dramatically, but rates are still very high for some groups. In 1998, the percentage of non-Hispanic whites living in poverty was 8.2 compared with 26.4 for non-Hispanic blacks, 16 percent for non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islanders, and 21 percent for Hispanics.
- The rate of chronic disability among older Canadians declined from 24 percent in 1982 to 21 percent in 1994. Heart disease, cancer and stroke were responsible for most deaths. Mortality rates for heart disease and stroke have declined by a third since 1980, while the rates for cancer increased slightly.