NIA report reveals senior Canadians face ageing challenges

NIA report reveals senior Canadians face ageing challenges

As the cost of living rises and provinces work to solve Canada’s ongoing health crisis, many older Canadians are voicing concerns about aging.

Getting older has its pros and cons. But in a time of financial precarity, healthcare and the housing crisis, many older Canadians are worried about their future, a new survey has found.

Conducted by Environics on behalf of the National Institute of Aging, the survey surveyed 5,885 Canadians age 50 and older in the summer of 2022. The findings were released Tuesday in a new annual report designed to assess the prospects of older Canadians as a quarter of the country’s population is marching toward age 65 or older in the next decade.

“This survey fills an important gap in our understanding of how older Canadians today think about and experience aging and how this may be similar or different based on age, socioeconomic status and health status,” said Senior Associate at Environics Institute Keith Neuman in a written statement.

“This type of research is essential to help us as a society to break down the casual stereotypes about seniors and ‘old people’.”

A large majority of Canadians surveyed said they feel financially stable and confident about living in their own homes for the foreseeable future.

Canadians aged 80 and older reported being most comfortable with aging and having more positive prospects than those in their 50s to 70s. Those over 80 also reported higher levels of financial well-being, with 89 percent saying their income was adequate and 78 percent saying they could weather a potential financial shock.

Levels of financial security fell among respondents aged 50 to 64 – 63 percent said their income was adequate and 56 percent said they could handle a financial shock.

Canadians aged 80 and over also did better in their social lives, although it was found that four in 10 Canadians over 50 were considered “socially isolated”.

“Compared to their younger peers aged 50 to 79, Canadians aged 80+ reported having the strongest social networks and were also more engaged in terms of frequent social participation,” the report states.

Fight as Canadians get older

Almost a third of those surveyed aged 50 and over stated that they had experienced age discrimination or discrimination based on their age. Of these, 31 percent of those who experienced age discrimination said it happened at work, while around 20 percent said they experienced such discrimination on the street or in shops and restaurants. For those over 80, hospitals were the most common place where older Canadians experienced ageism, the survey found.

According to the report, foreign-born people are particularly at risk of being victims of age discrimination.

More than half of Canadians over 50 said they had access to health care “mostly” in the past year, while another 28 percent said they had “struggled.”

“There are still challenges to aging in Canada, and certain segments of Canada’s older population are particularly at risk,” said report co-author Natalie Iciaszczyk, policy analyst at the National Institute on Aging.

“Conducting this survey annually will allow us to more quickly identify and act on areas of growing concern before they worsen.”

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