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.
What does this aging population mean for Canada? While government services and assistance programs are greatly needed and widely used, many seniors will need other practical day-to-day help as well. Most fundamentally, it's important that seniors continue to feel empowered to lead healthy independent lives. Luckily there are a number of options available for this aging population.
Mobility around the city
When seniors have to give up the keys and can no longer be behind the wheel, isolation becomes a major risk. With a vehicle, they are more able to get out and about with peers. Losing the ability to drive can mark a significant decline in participation of social activities. Not to mention that without a car any medical appointments, grocery shopping and other essential errands become a daunting task.
Some seniors can find it difficult to get out of the house. Not wanting to be a burden, they may refrain from repeatedly calling on friends or relatives to play chauffeur. While public transit is a viable alternative, it is not always entirely accessible, especially in extreme weather like a Canadian winter day.
While some cab companies can set up accounts for seniors, other services have sprung up to address this need for mobility directly. Companies like Driving Miss Daisy provide personal transportation for seniors to anything from dentist appointments to dry cleaning. A service like this takes the challenge out of leaving home.
Home care services
Striving for independent living can become even more important as we age. It signifies control over our lives and promotes a sense of achievement and self-worth. Greater independence leads to stronger relationships, better health and financial choices, and a higher quality of life.
Many seniors live independently with little to no help. However, some may need assistance due to physical or mental limitations that come with aging. In-home medical and non-medical care services help seniors with whatever their needs may be. Depending on the company, services can range from cleaning and shopping to wellness coaching, personal care and nursing.
Home health care is provided by licensed medical professionals, such as a nurse or physical therapist. Non-medical in-home care focuses on aiding seniors with daily activities they need to maintain a fulfilling life.
Nutrition and diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for everyone's overall health since it is key in maintaining a healthy weight. Being over- or underweight can lead to troubling health conditions. According to a new study, loss of appetite is common among older adults, with around 15 to 20 per cent of seniors experiencing unintentional weight loss as a result.
Another recent study by Statistics Canada found that "34% of Canadians aged 65 or older (more than 4.1 million) were at nutritional risk. Gaining or losing more than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) in the past six months and skipping meals "almost every day" were the main drivers of nutritional risk."
Eating well improves our energy levels, resistance to illness and emotional balance.
Chetan (left) and Roshni (right) Bahl are the Edmonton Heart to Home Meals franchise owners.
One couple that recently opened a Heart to Home Meals franchise in the Edmonton area recognizes that for seniors, the daily task of eating nutritional meals can be challenging for a multitude of reasons.
Chetan and Roshni Bahl, a husband and wife team that emigrated from India, are now servicing seniors through their business that offers over 200 delicious and nutritious meals right to their doors.
"We have come to experience how difficult and cold the winters can be in Edmonton, so we hope this service can alleviate any challenges for seniors, especially those with mobility issues and may have barriers to nutritional meals such as leaving their home," says Roshni.
The goal of the service is to give seniors the choice, convenience and independence to live on their own. The delivery service provides an additional point of contact for seniors who want to live independently. Experts in home and seniors care have noted the importance of having a regular check-in, especially for those with mobility issues.
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