Guest Blog: Celebrating the accomplishments of successful individuals age 50+



By Ann Hossack and Marylou Hilliard

What do Cher, Steven Spielberg and William J. Clinton have in common? They are among the first baby boomers to turn 70 during 2017. Unlike previous generations who saw milestones such as retirement or turning 70 as indicators they were approaching the end of their life; today’s boomers are vibrant, engaged and continue to make positive contributions in their professions and to society.

According to The Globe & Mail – “The Boomer Shift – January 5, 2017, “As of this year, for the first time, Canada has more people over the age of 65 than under 15. The age group that now encompasses the boomer generation – 50 to 69 – makes up 27 per cent of the population, compared with 18 per cent in that age group two decades ago”.

This aging population is changing the fabric of society; so why is it that society is still obsessed with youth – just think about all those Top 30 under 30 and top 40 over 40 lists. Traditionally, innovation and “change-making” has primarily been recognized to be within the sphere of the young.

However, individuals who are mid-life aged and beyond represent an incredible source of talent, experience and wisdom that provides them the opportunity to make a difference in their lives and to the world. They have a desire to follow their passions, fulfill lifelong dreams and improve the future for generations to come. Moreover they are among the largest group of individuals to keep philanthropic efforts and volunteerism, which are critical to societal progress alive and well.

That’s why AGEWORKS has chosen to publicly acknowledge successful accomplishments of people aged 50+; to raise awareness for this inequity and to demonstrate that older people offer a variety of innovative solutions to an array of important societal issues.

The AGEWORKS Top 50 Over 50 Awards celebrate Canadians who know who to dream, create, contribute and achieve in many different areas. Winners will be acknowledged at the inaugural Top 50 Over 50 Awards Gala being held in Toronto in November 2017.

The recipients, and their stories, will serve as inspiration to others with a message that you’re never too old to make significant changes in your career or your life via reinvention, pursue a long-held dream or redefine what it means to be successful. These amazing stories will be publicly leveraged to help combat some of the ageism myths, like over 50 means over the hill, that still exist.

Success will be measured on a variety of criteria, including finding purpose, social change, innovation and inspiring others, by a panel of independent judges who have significant expertise and involvement within the 50+ category. Selected judges recognize the importance of these awards and will bring their objectivity and enthusiasm to this essential role.

For more information or to nominate someone go to:


Marylou Hilliard has over 25 years of advertising expertise and has earned a reputation as a brand champion. She has worked with a broad range of clients targeting an “ageing population” including the development of a new brand identity and design of several research reports for International Federation on Ageing and volunteer work for the Consumers Council of Canada and Psychologist Foundation of Canada.

Ann Hossack has held senior database marketing roles and has communicated effectively to consumer and business-to-business markets including those 50+ across a wide variety of industries. She believes that companies have yet to fully embrace this target group and is determined to promote the value of 50+ individuals as employees, entrepreneurs, volunteers or consumers.


Aging in a Foreign Land

There are two population trends that are changing the social landscape of Canada and are going to have an impact on how programs and services are delivered.

As in other parts of the world, the Canadian population is aging – with the number of Canadians age 65+ expected to double to 10.4 million by 2036. In addition, Canada’s population is also becoming increasingly diverse, with many older adults also being immigrants. On the 2006 census, while 20% of the overall population was immigrants, the corresponding figure among older adults was 30%.

A working paper from Ontario-based network CERIS (Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement) sought to explore the aging experiences of older immigrants in Canada. The key findings from this study include:

  • Older immigrants, especially those who have recently arrived, are more likely to live in the top 3 Canadian CMAs (Census Metropolitan Areas) – Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver
  • Home countries of older immigrants have changed in the past 30 years, with almost half of older immigrants now arriving from South Asia and East Asia rather than Western Europe
  • Slightly more than half of the older adults who arrived recently did not have knowledge of the official languages of Canada, however they were more likely to have post-secondary education than their Canadian-born counterparts
  • Recent older immigrants were more prone to ill health in the long-run because of limited social networks, inadequate knowledge of the official languages and relatively low income

The Centre for Elder Research has recently completed a project looking at the health and social service use and needs of older South Asian immigrants in the regions of Peel and Halton. With support from local ethno-specific community organizations, over 300 older South Asian immigrants participated in the project and shared their unique experiences of aging and accessing services in Canada.

Aging away from their country of origin and in many cases, away from extended social networks, can have physical, cognitive, social and emotional impacts on older immigrants. For this reason here is a need for continued research in this area, particularly research that can inform policymakers and community organizations on how to best meet the unique needs of older immigrants living in Canada.

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

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.

Marketing Products and Services to Older Consumers

from Jane2 2 oaOver the next few generations, the worldwide proportion of older persons will increase tenfold to 1 in 4. By 2021, Ontario alone will be home to approximately three million older adults – more than double the number in 1998. Businesses wishing to respond to this shift require a greater level of understanding of the needs and wants of this aging demographic.

On Thursday, June 12, the Sheridan Centre for Elder Research will present a one-day, interactive conference called the Age Aware Summit, at the Sheridan College Oakville Campus. The summit will help businesses develop strategies to communicate effectively with the growing demographic of older consumers.

The event will feature internationally recognized author Dick Stroud of the UK-based consultancy 20plus30. Speaking in Canada for the first time, Stroud will discuss the business implications of physiological aging.

Stroud points out that, “It is astonishing how many companies stop researching and targeting people once they reach the age of 65. Customers who are grouped into the ‘65+ category’ include as much diversity and buying power as their baby boomer juniors.”

Conference participants are requested to bring their ideas and existing marketing strategies to the session, which they’ll critique in real-time using lessons from the day – all to be recorded in a conference workbook that will be issued in advance.  A panel of business and government representatives will share their perspectives on this market segment. The early bird rate of $195 is in effect until May 1, following that the cost rises to $225.

To register for the conference, please contact Paulina Camino by calling 905.845.9430 x8617 or email