Introduction to Older Adults in BC

Older adults ( we use the terms “older adult(s)” or “senior(s)” – not “old folks,” not “the elderly”) are increasing in number as the ‘baby boomers’ age.  Over the coming years, the number of seniors in BC will nearly double to become almost 25% of the population.  The fastest growing segment of the population is 85+.  Immigrants compose a relatively large (28%) proportion of seniors.

According to geriatrician Robert Moulias, in industrialized countries only a small minority (about ten percent) of people in later life are “the rich, young-like”(such as the recently retired).  “Disabled seniors or dependent frail older persons are also a minority but larger in size.  The large majority of the 60-100 year olds are neither young nor physically nor mentally dependent.”  About  93% of seniors will live out their lives at home, rather than in seniors housing or an institution.

Most of low-income seniors’ money is spent on: housing; food; transportation; and, health related costs.  Many older adults are working longer to help pay for these expenses. The elderly poor are generally widowed, and living alone – widowhood is a significant transition point for older women. Meyer-Harrington notes that to be old, female and poor is a “triple jeopardy.”  Understanding the role of and the intersection of gender with aging is essential.  Seventy per cent of low income women 65+ have two or more chronic conditions – they are more likely to die prematurely, as are those in other vulnerable populations such as homeless people and members of first nations.