Today’s seniors are aging on their terms



Photo property of Metro Creative Connection

There are now more seniors in Canada than children.

By Kate Jackman-Atkinson

Neepawa Banner & Press

Every person is different and that’s why there’s no one-size-fits all solution to aging. Personal preference, health, location, income and a myriad of other factors can drive a person’s decision about how and where they age. One thing is for certain, with a growing population of seniors, there are now more options than ever.

The 2016 Census marked a milestone in Canada’s population; for the first time ever recorded, there were more seniors than children. This trend is a result of ageing baby boomers, longer life expectancies and declining birth rates. Not only did the share of seniors exceed that of children, the fastest-growing population was those over 100 years of age.

Statistics Canada’s projections show this to be part of a long-term trend— by 2031, they predict that almost one in four Canadians will be over 65 years of age. The statistics also show that women make up a larger share of Canada’s population over 65— 20 per cent more women than men were over 65 years of age in 2016 and for those over 85 years of age, there were two women for every man. What does this mean for seniors and their families as they navigate ageing with independence and dignity?

Good health a team effort

Health can have a major impact on an individual’s quality of life. While people often think of the role physicians play in health care, they are only one piece of the puzzle, which also includes pharmacists and dental care.

For many seniors, their pharmacist is their most regular contact with the health care system, which gives them a front line role in keeping seniors healthy. According to the Canadian Pharmacists Association, in 2017, half of Canadian adults took at least one prescription drug and 40 per cent of seniors and those with chronic diseases took four or more.

Pharmacists can play an important role in making sure the medications seniors are taking are working to improve their health and quality of life. With an expanded role within the health care system, many pharmacists are providing services beyond just dispensing prescription and over-the-counter medications. Today, pharmacists are offering services such as medication reviews, chronic disease management, immunization services and wellness programs. Many pharmacists also offer a range of comfort and mobility devices. Working with physicians, they can help provide more seamless care to meet seniors’ diverse health care needs.

Dental care can be an often overlooked part of seniors’ health, comfort and well-being. For many seniors, a denturist is a vital part of this care. “Most people first see a denturist when they feel that they will be losing one of more of their natural teeth,” explains Kyle Ryan, owner of Kyle Ryan Denture Clinic. Denturists work with a patient’s dentist and provide oral examinations, as well as oral hygiene to ensure overall health.  Said Ryan, “Good prosthetics allow a person to function with chewing mastication, to consume food properly for vitamin and mineral intake and of course, aesthetics.”

Options for living

Seniors choose their living situations for a variety of reasons. Some want to remain in their own homes, some want fewer commitments and obligations and some have health care needs that require more care. There are options to meet all of these needs.

People with health conditions have different requirements from their living situation; difficulty completing daily tasks, such as getting in and out of bed, getting dressed, preparing meals or making trips to the doctor or store are sure signs that an individual needs some help.  For some, this help comes from family members. For those whose families can’t provide this assistance, individuals have the option of either moving to a residence that provides these services or hiring a service to help them in their own home. While both home care and personal care homes are provided by the provincial government, there are also private options.

For many seniors, moving can simplify their lives, giving them the ability to travel or spend more time doing the things they love. A condo development, such as Riverside Lifestyle Estates, can eliminate housing maintenance chores that seniors may no longer want to perform, as well as offering amenities, such as heated indoor parking, that improve safety. Because it’s not specifically geared towards seniors, this type of housing can have more flexibility in its rules, and its location, in this case overlooking the Wheat City Golf Course, can put recreation or other attractions right on residents’ doorstep.

For some seniors, living in a place built around their specific needs is a priority. These types of developments are called senior’s assisted living facilities. Some, like Rotary Villas, are located in a complex, which includes a medical clinic, pharmacy and hair salon. These facilities are built to allow a senior to remain living there as their care needs grow. They offer more than just a place to live, but also food service, 24-hour on-site staff, social activities and varying levels of hands-on health care.

For some seniors, their wish is to continue living in their own home as long as possible.  In addition to government-provided home care, there are private services which can offer everything from companionship and help with shopping, to full at home nursing care. Sometimes, they can work with the health authority to provide families with money to help subsidize this care.

Regardless of the type of living arrangement needed by a senior, it’s best to give it some thought and have a plan in place before being forced to make a quick decision. Every individual has different needs and preferences and ensuring a positive transition is very important. For seniors and their families, these discussions can be difficult, but having a plan to ensure their living arrangements are safe and comfortable will be a relief to all when the time comes.


It can be hard to know when a person might need a little extra help. Here are some signs to look for:

•If the house or yard was previously clean and meticulous, are everyday tasks now neglected?

•Does it appear as though the person is able to bathe themselves? Are they still neatly groomed and in different clothing when you see them?

•Do they say that they eat healthy, well-balanced meals or is there food in the refrigerator that has gone bad?

•Have you noticed bruising, a slight limp or complaints of aches and pains that may have been the result of a fall or numerous falls?

•Have you noticed that medications are expired and unused?

•Are they becoming less social?