Active Aging and Life Expectancy

couple - green backgrndStatistics Canada released a new report entitled ‘Ninety Years of Change in Life Expectancy’. According to the report the 2011 Census results revealed that centenarians were the second fastest growing age group. With an increase of 24.6 years since 1921, Canadians live an average of 81.7 years.

Female and Male Expectancies

Through the years female Canadians have experienced a longer life span than males. The smallest gap between the sexes was recorded in 1921 at 1.8 years. In 1975-1977 it reached a high of 7.4 years. The latest data (2010-2012) reveals the age gap to be 4.3 years.

According to an article in Time magazine, throughout the industrialized world, women live five to ten years longer than men. The article suggests one of the reasons for this gap is that women typically develop cardiovascular problems in their 70’s which is on average ten years later than men. Research by Scientific American opines that there is no one definitive answer.

Longer Living and Quality of Life

The article explains that although Canadian may be living longer, their functional health1 decline accelerates at age 65. Severe disability2 occurs on average around age 77.

The Statistics Canada, Health at a Glance report concludes by explaining that “another way to look at the quality of life during the later years of life is to calculate the equivalent number of years a person can be expected to live in good (or “full”) health. The latest estimate of health-adjusted life expectancy at birth is 69 years for men and 71 for women. That means that the average Canadian can expect to live roughly 10.5 years with some level of disability.”

Active Aging

The World Health Organization describes active aging as “the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age”. Active aging can be an effective disease prevention strategy to ideally minimize the predicted average of 10.5 years of poor health.

The Centre for Elder Research creates innovative research opportunities that promote active aging. We also believe in health prevention and promotion across the life span. To be added to our mailing list for research opportunities and, to receive advance notification about upcoming projects and events, please send an email to elder.research@sheridancollege.ca.

1 A person’s functional health is measured using a scoring system based on self-reported performance on eight key health attributes: vision, hearing, speech, mobility, dexterity, feelings, cognition and pain. This scoring system, the Health Utility Index Mark 3 (HUI3), was developed at McMaster University.

2 Severe disability occurs when a person is prevented from performing many activities due to limitations in their ability to function in at least one of these eight health attributes (vision, hearing, speech, mobility, dexterity, feelings, cognition and pain), and the limitation cannot be corrected.

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