Thursday, November 4, 2010

The State of Public Health in Canada, 2010

Report HTMLA new Canadian publication has just come out:
Chief Public Health Officer's Report on the State of Public Health in Canada, 2010
  • in 1978: 9% of the population was age 65+
  • in 2008: 14% of the population was age 65+
  • Life expectancy for Canadians age 65 was 20 years (2006)
Cause of death
  • Three main causes of death: circulatory diseases, cancer, respiratory disease
  • Falls accounted for 41% of injuries that caused death
Falls are a big issue for those of us concerned about our parents. With age we have increased mobility and balance issues. At age 53 - I have had this myself.  While this huge fear of the Silver Tsunami I think are exaggerated, we can see more seniors living healthy lifestyles. Sometimes it is simply hard just to pay attention, and medications can exacerbate the normal advancement of this decline. Falls lead to hospitalization, with its own issues.

 Chronic Conditions
  • arthritis, rheumatism, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's Disease, cataracts, glaucoma, mood disorder, anxiety disorder
  • seniors with chronic conditions = 89% (2009)
  • For those age 65 -  79 => 25% had at least 4 chronic conditions
  • by age 80, 33% had at least 4 conditions
  • those in institutions take many medications, not a surprise
  • 13% used five or more
  • About half of prescription users did not use them properly
 Weight issues in seniors

  • in 2008: 29% of seniors were considered obese.
This, of course, affects balance, as well as creates a demand upon our musculature.

Underweight is a possibility, too. I can't tell you the number of adult children who worried about their parents as asked we delivered them Meals on Wheels. It is hard to be motivated to cook for yourself, isn't it?


Smoking and alcohol abuse affects 6 - 10% of seniors, which is lower than younger cohorts.

Dementias, depression, delirium

These are terribly undiagnosed and life altering conditions for seniors. While dementia is a symptom caused by many conditions and cannot necessarily be ameliorated, the latter two are horribly under diagnosed since they are treatable.

Depression simply needs some excellent medical care. Seniors alone, and seniors in long-term care, are both susceptible. having volunteered with many seniors.

Delirium is a terrible response to medications, infections, metabolic disorders, drug interactions, drug overdoses, after surgery.
My Dad had it after a urinary tract infection, caused by his radiation treatments. No one warned me, and he wasn't capable of processing the information if he heard it when they were generating a treatment plan. If they created one.


This issue affects access to good nutrition, as well as an inability to pay a mortgage, rent, home repairs, and have transportation to social and emotional outlets, as well as health care. Thankfully, with Canada's pension system has improved those living in poverty in senior year.
  • Low income was 29% in 1978
  • It went down to 6% in 2008

Personal Well-being
  • Most seniors are satisfied with their lives (97%). 
  • an estimate 70% feel they have very good mental health
  • this study estimates 20% of seniors in the community had mental health issues
  • between 80 and 90% in institutions have either a mental health issue or illness
The good news is that not all seniors retire totally or from necessity, many retire happily, many are volunteering in their community and find much satisfaction.

  • in 2003, 29% of those 75+ reported assistance for transportation
  • in 2007, 16% of caregivers age 65 - 74 provided care to another senior
  • while, 8% age 75+ similarly provided paid/informal care.

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