Just wanted to share some numbers with you that surprised me: according to the Canadian Institute for Health and Information (CIHI), Canada spent more than 200 billion on health care in 2011 - an increase of 7 billion from 2010. And 44% of these were spent on seniors. And more ... according to the 2011 Census, 14.8% of Canadian are 65 years and over and an estimated 18.5% of Canadian will be 65 years or older in 2021 and 22.8% in 2031 ... And our health expenditure (4%) outgrew our GDP (2.5%) in 2011. WOW!
Although aging population isn't the major health care cost driver (compensation of professionals is), it's a modest driver. We can't reverse the aging course, but researche shows that healthy aging through healthy living has the potential to reduce the demand for health care services and reduce health care costs associated with a rapidly aging population.
Five key issues have been identified that are crucial to healthy aging:
- Healthy eating: seniors' nutrition and energy needs are unique - they need more nutrients but fewer calories. A healthy diet consisting of a high intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with protection against visual loss, cataracts, respiratory disease, and some cancers. It helps with weigh control as well.
- Injury prevention: Unintentional injuries (especially falls) involve expensive costs to the health care system as well as serious consequences to seniors themselves.
- Physical activity: it brings multiple benefits and significantly contributes to healthy aging. Physical inactivity is associated with premature death, chronic diseases, illness and disability, as well as reduced quality of life and independence.
- Tobacco cessation: tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death and disease in Canada, and it's very costly to the health care system, with most of the cost attributed to hospital care.
- Social connectness: social support contributes to higher quality of life, increased life satisfaction and enhanced mental and physical well being, while social isolation is associated with higher levels of depression and disability associated with chronic diseases, increased rates of premature death, and decreased overall well being.
Apparently, healthy aging through healthy living can't only trim down our healthcare costs, but also improve the quality of our life. It benefits us both as individuals and as a society. So let's adopt a healthy lifestyle now...
Check out some books on this topic from the Toronto Public Library as follow,
Here are some websites that might interest you:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Aging
- City of Toronto: Dental Services for Seniors, Get Healthier... One step at a time, Injury Prevention in Older Adults, Walk into Health
- Government of Canada: Healthy Canadians
- Health Canada: Canada's Food Guide, Seniors - Healthy Living
- MedlinePlus: Exercise for Seniors, NIHSeniorHealth, Nutrition for Seniors
- Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care: Forms, Healthy Living, Programs and Services