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Monday, October 31, 2011

Population Aging and the Evolving Care Needs of Older Canadians An Overview of the Policy Challenges

IRPP Study, no. 21, October 2011

As the first members of Canada’s baby boom generation turn 65, the official age of retirement, this study by gerontologist Neena Chappell provides a timely overview of the main health and social policy challenges presented by population aging in three areas: informal care, formal care, and prevention.

There is much argument and debate among experts as to whether Canada’s existing public programs will be sustainable with the increases in the number of seniors and their higher than average use of health and social services.

Chappell first looks at the evolving care needs, and shows that in the coming years, more seniors will depend on fewer individuals to provide the care they need.

Developing policies that support the needs of informal caregivers is important. In addition, there is a need for formal long-term home care as lower fertility rates, increasing rates of divorce, remarriage and blended families may affect the provision of care by family members. The assumption that medical care is the most appropriate means to ensure the health of an aging population needs to be re-examined.

This paper was published by the IRPP. Founded in 1972, the Institute for research on Public Policy is an independent, national, bilingual, nonprofit organization. The IRPP seeks to improve public policy in Canada by generating research, providing insight and sparking debate on current and emerging policy issues facing Canadians and their governments.

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