By J. Manuel Cordova, M. D.
The Later Years: “The Great Golden Time“
We continue with demographic data about later years and aging, just when in industrialized societies we can expect the increase in the proportion of elderly to continue. Even if we assume that medicine will make certain advances in prolonging the lives of this age group, a large segment of the existing population is about to reach their later years.
In this year 2011, the post war “baby boomers” will start turning around their 65-70s. In this year, and for each of the 20 years that follow, we can expect these elderly population to increase by about one million people annually.
At the start of the new century, some countries, for example, Canada, faces significant aging of its population as the proportion of seniors increase more rapidly than all other age groups. In 2001, one Canadian in eight was aged 65 years or over. By 2026, one Canadian in five will have reached age 65. The growth of the senior population will account for close to half of the overall population in the next four decades. The fastest growth in the senior population is occurring among the oldest Canadians.
One principal factor is the increase in life expectancy. In 1997, life expectancy for Canadians reached 75.8 years for men and 81.4 years for women. Life expectancy at birth is expected to continue to grow, albeit more slowly, reaching 81 years for men and 86 years for women in 2041. (Interdepartmental committee on Aging and Senior Issues). In coming decades however, Canada´s population is expected to age more rapidly that of the other industrialized countries as the large segment of baby boomers has an impact.
For example, the proportion of seniors in the overall population in Canada should be nearly the same in the United Kingdom by 2030, despite being one fifth less in 2000.
Geographic variations across Canada :
There are notable variations in the aging of the population across Canada. Five out of six Canadian seniors live in Canada’s four most populated provinces: Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta. Like the rest of Canada’s population, the majority of seniors–some three out of four live in a metropolitan or urban area. Women form the majority of the Canadian senior population (56% in 2001) and their proportion increases with age. In 2001, women made up 60% of seniors aged 75 to 84, and 70% of seniors aged 85 or older.
War Service Veterans (veterans of the Second World War or the Korean conflict) account for a significant segment of the senior population. In Canada, approximately one senior in ten is a war service veteran, with one in five senior men having served in wartime. Nevertheless, the veteran population is aging and declining in size. The average age of veterans in 2001 was 78. The total war service veteran population of nearly 357,000 in 2001 will decrease by nearly 37% to 42 % from 2001 to 2011.
Your physician has become accustomed to dealing with the problems of the elderly and is helped by a large and growing body of scientific research that almost daily is discovering more about the aging process and how to go about living a longer, healthier life; nobody knows more about the medical problems of ageing like a Geriatric Specialist.