Seniors in Canada: senior housing and the baby-boomers

Canada’s population is growing – and so are the number of seniors. According to figures from Statistics Canada and the Annual Demographic Estimates: Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2019., the population of Alberta grew by 1.6% in the year ending 1 July 2019, 0.2% above the Canadian average. With 37.6 million Canadians, this is the largest annual growth in history.

With Canadians living longer, there are over 6.5million Canadians aged 65 and over, and the baby-boomers making up 51% of all seniors. The number of centenarians has also grown rapidly over the last few years, with 10,765 Canadians aged over 100 on 1 July 2019.

No wonder that The Economist has dubbed 2020 as the start of the decade of the “yold”, as the baby-boomer generation turns 65. What’s more, in 2020, “For the first time, the world will have more people aged over 30 than under.”

So it’s important for all of us to evaluate how we as a community and a nation plan to help our population through increasing years, and advancing age.

Homes for seniors

Where seniors live is central to this planning. Back in September 2017, the FPT Seniors Forum (Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Ministers Responsible for Seniors) commissioned a report into housing needs for seniors.

The report revealed how most seniors “desire to age in community”, but that they “may experience challenges in finding suitable housing to accommodate their changing needs and services.” This included two major difficulties:

  • Limited access for mobility aids
  • Gaps in availability of home care

This comes as no surprise to us here at Vytality at Home. A shortage of reliable, consistent and sustained home care with a high level of personal engagement is one of the reasons that we set up our home care company here in Calgary. It’s also one of the reasons we offer more than home care through our network of trusted Partners, able to under take home improvements to seniors’ home, such as improving access. It’s also why we are always happy to organise taxis and other transportation to local community events, allowing seniors to remain living and involved in the neighbourhoods they know and love.

Living in your own home for longer

The 2016 Census showed that 93.2% of seniors lived in a private house, apartment or mobile home. Seniors are also less likely to move once past retirement age. In 2015,

  • 5.5% of seniors aged 65-74 years old moved home
  • 4.7% of those 75 years and older
  • 13% of the general population moved home

One of the factors may be the unsuitability of senior housing provision. The report highlighted that:

“Housing developments often lack basic consideration of good environmental design (steps, ramps, railing, lighting, safety features, etc.). Seniors’ housing built between the 1960s and 1990s is often unable to accommodate newer independence technologies such as motorized scooters and bulky electric wheelchairs that need to be plugged in.”

The report concluded that:

“Strategies should continue to encourage and promote production of more diverse and affordable housing options, since the national and international evidence reviewed demonstrates that no one housing option is preferable to seniors and all of the options reviewed had positive benefits in sustaining the well-being of seniors.”

It also concluded that all levels of government should increase “Retrofitting of existing homes to improve accessibility.”

Why home is better for senior health

The physical and social environments are key determinants of whether people can remain healthy, independent and autonomous as they age, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). More and more Canadian city neighbourhoods aiming to become an Age-Friendly Community (AFC), working to “integrate an aging perspective into urban planning, and create age friendly spaces and environments.”

So, whilst as family members or adult children we might think that specialist senior accommodation is the only option as aging relatives’ needs change, this isn’t always the case. As the report says, modifications can extend the time seniors can live in the comfort of their own home that they know and love and usually own outright too. (Senior housing rental costs can be quite considerable.)

That’s why home care services such as ours offer an affordable alternative to moving to senior housing, especially when coupled with modifications to the home as required.

Keeping seniors company

One of the major benefits of our home care services is that we don’t just rush in, do the necessary personal care, and rush out again. As a private home care company, we can take our time, and spend quality time with all our home care clients. So seniors can stay in their own home and enjoy regular company, conversation and activities, at a time when their own mobility might be decreasing.

Looking for Calgary home care?

Call us to discuss your requirements for yourself, a loved one or ageing relatives. We offer a free personal consultation and in-home assessment, a customized care plan, and easy management of your care via our new Vytality app.

539, 5940 Macleod Trail SWCalgary, AB