Of the $220 billion spent on health care annually in Canada, 45 per cent is spent on those over 65 years old, although they only represent 15 per cent of the population. It's time we improved the quality and quantity of care delivered for frail Canadians - and improve the health system for everyone in the process.
Let's start with some basic numbers. Excellent data from Canada indicates that eight per cent of people over the age of 65 will be diagnosed with dementia, and about two-thirds of those will have Alzheimer's disease. The risk of developing Alzheimer's disease doubles for every five years of life beyond age 65, making older age one of the most significant and predictable risk factors.
I've got aging on my mind right now. Last Spring I celebrated a not insignificant birthday. Who am I kidding? They're all significant now. A few months ago I watched Isabel Allende's Ted Talk on living passionately at 71. It really inspired me. I've done a lot of thinking about age and aging since, and I've come to the following conclusions.
Those who advocate for a vegetarian diet love to point out that vegetarians live longer and have a markedly lower risk of many common diseases, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes, than meat-eaters do. It's possible to enjoy many of the advantages of a vegetarian diet without completely swearing off meat and other animal foods.
Canada is experiencing a demographic shift. Baby boomers, currently the largest generation, are rapidly reaching retirement age. By 2021, 17.8 per cent of the total Canadian population will be over 65 - that's nearly seven million people. By 2041, that number is expected to jump to 9.7 million, or 22.6 per cent.
In a country as diverse and varied as Canada, such a per capita funding model creates winners and losers. For provinces with flourishing economies and/or younger populations, the formula may be a welcome one. But for many provinces and territories, this funding formula fails to recognize and accommodate their particular challenges and needs.
Looking at my greying hair at least once a day, I stopped seeing it like I used to -- as a sign of defeat -- but more like acquiring a loyalty to my age. I started to accept the mantle of middle-aged maturity toward which this "crown" motivated me. It showed up mostly (surprisingly) in my relationships with other women.
A more useful framework to describe reproductive aging is the concept of the menopause transition and the various stages from early peri-menopause to late post-menopause. This framework is based on the clinical history, including bleeding pattern and symptoms. However, testing hormone levels may help to confirm the stage.
As seniors age, much of their time is freed from the commitments of work and family and they start to look for ways to participate more actively in their communities. As the saying goes, doing good makes you feel good, and the seniors who continue to make a difference every day are true testaments to that.
In recent years, an aging population and the rise of non-traditional marriages have become issues that are increasingly relevant to estate planning considerations in Canada. As society shifts over time, it is important that estate planning methods and strategies are capable of adaptation to suit changing needs.