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[edit] Group #13 "Baby Boomers in Canada: A retiree nation"

Since the first baby boomer was born in 1946, the group as a whole has profoundly altered the demographic landscape of Canada throughout every life stage. In 2011, the first baby boomers reached retirement age, and as this disproportionately large cohort continues to age and exit the workforce, it will undoubtedly alter Canadian society in a variety of ways. Namely, the effects on the younger generation, older generation, and overall society will be reviewed.

[edit] Implications Of Aging Retiree Population on Younger Generations

The Canadian baby boom began in 1946 and continued though to 1964 [1] , and the magnitude of births during this time has greatly impacted various aspects of life and society in Canada [2]. According to demographic estimates, it is predicted that in 2021 more than 21% of the Canadian population will be 65 and older [3]. Presently, the first wave of this massive cohort is just reaching retirement age as many of them are turning 65 this year [2].

As the aging baby-boomers begin retiring, the effects on the overall economy will be substantial [1] . This is of great concern to the Canadian government, policy makers, researchers, employers and workers [3]. The effects of these changes will be widespread and will impact Canadian lifestyles and policies in varying degrees [3]. Recent research has focused mainly on the baby boomers themselves. However, it is essential to investigate the ways in which these demographics will affect the younger generations as well. There are economic and social consequences of population aging that will impact the younger generations. More specifically, there will be greater opportunities in the workplace [1] but also increased pressure to look after older family members [2].

[edit] Implications For The Workplace

As mentioned previously, the first wave of baby boomers are turning 65 this year, and therefore, many are preparing to retire. Reasons for retirement include because they wish to, health limitations, mandatory retirement, unemployment and early retirement packages [4].

According to a recent study, the sector that will be most affected by baby-boomer retirements is education [1]. This is because teachers and other people in this industry seem to retire earlier, especially those who receive their full pension after 30 years of service [1]. There will also be a quicker turnover among executive, administrative and managerial positions since 59% of these workers are 45 years of age or older [1]. Other occupations, such as public administration, will also feel this impact [1]. Since the baby-boomers will be retiring from these sectors, jobs will be more readily available to younger generations, and there will be less competition for these positions [4].

Also, there will be an increasing need for specialization, particularly in the health service industry [4]. As the baby-boomers age, well-trained doctors and specialists will be in high-demand [4]. As seen in this article by CTV News, the demand for such specialists will be overwhelming: Canada's aging population could run short on docs. The younger generation will need to anticipate and address the increased demand on the health care system as many new jobs are needed to support the aging population.

In contrast, an increasing number of older workers have no intention of retiring early and will continue to work until they are no longer able [3]. Research has shown that the seniors that are most likely to continue working are those with more education and who receive a higher income [5]. Since transitions are complex and many seniors don't want to leave the work force completely all at once, many stay and work part-time [3]. It is important to take note of this fact because fears may be minimized as many baby-boomers choose to remain in the labour market and are able to mentor the younger generation who are just starting out in their careers [3].

Therefore, it is evident that the shifts within the workplace will have an impact on the younger generation. An advantage of the baby boomers retiring is that there will be opportunities for jobs in education and public administration with hardly any competition for these positions [4]. On the other hand, there will be an increased need for specialization, particularly in health services and hospitals [4]. However, these needs might possibly be buffered by the fact that some baby-boomers are choosing to remain working [3].

[edit] Implications For Caregiving

The aging of Canada's baby boomers will result in the growing number of people who are unable to care for themselves because of their health [5]. Since the availability of help within the health services is already limited, the responsibility of caring for the elderly will fall to their children [2]. The challenge facing the younger generation is the responsibility of caring for elderly parents who suffer from physical and cognitive declines such as Alzheimer's disease [2]. Research has shown that caregivers of elderly patients or family members experience significant burdens- emotional, financial and conflict between workplace and responsibility of caregiving [4]. Volunteers within communities will be needed to help relieve these burdens experienced by caregivers [6].

Despite the upcoming challenges, it is important to view both sides of this issue. Although there will be pressure placed on family members to step up and care for their aging parents, it is important to look at the positive aspects as well [6]. Baby-boomers will be able to offer support to their children, whether it be by babysitting or by contributing financially [6]. In preparing for the large needs of the baby boomers, the Canadian younger generation should see this as a community issue [6]. Instead of expecting children of the baby-boomers to be solely responsible, volunteers within communities will help to create unity as the transition of population aging occurs.

[edit] Looking Forward

The effects of baby-boomer retirement and the implications this will have on the younger generations will be most felt in the upcoming decade [1]. Economic and social changes will include, but are not limited to, workplace changes and an increased expectation of caregiving for aging parents. Because retirement of Canada’s boomers will begin in 2010 and continue over the next two decades [5] [1], there is still time to look ahead in order to develop policies that help accommodate and deal with this demographic trend [5] . It is important that these policies consider the advantages and disadvantages associated with this demographic shift, and that the needs of both the older and the younger generations are recognized and addressed. The baby boomers' retirement presents a host of changes and opportunities that affect not only them but also their children and grandchildren. In order to see the whole picture, one must view these issues from several perspectives.

[edit] Implications of an aging retiree population: The Elder Perspective

[edit] The Aging Baby Boomer

As the first wave of “baby boomers” (born in 1946) reach the age of 65 in 2011, there is a growing reason for concern over the sustainability of supporting an aging population. From an elder perspective, a whole new series of unpleasant but essential questions must be considered. These issues include where the person will age, what services they may require in the future, and what sorts of strategies they can implement to ensure they live long, healthy lives. These issues are just a few of the important questions the aging “baby boomers” must consider when planning for the future. Out of these concerns, one central issue remains constant, attaining positive, active and successful Quality-of-Life (QoL) into old age[7].

[edit] Quality of Life

Quality of Life is a concept which includes four measures including autonomy, control, pleasure and self-realization on a scale of reported levels of satisfaction. [7]To further explore this topic, Zaninotto and colleagues (2009)[7] conducted a longitudinal study and examined the direction of QoL among retired older adults. They found that QoL was poorer in the older participants in comparison to younger working individuals, and this difference in satisfaction only grew larger with age, rapidly worsening in the oldest participants. [7] Several factors contributed to this negative QoL including long-standing illness, depression, lack of education and wealth. [7] This leading issue is a source of concern in the retiree population. Thus, two major factors Canadians need to consider to ensure positive Quality of Life (QoL) for an aging population is housing and mobility.

[edit] Housing

When faced with the important decision of where to spend their later years, seniors are presented with various housing options. These options may require a move, but new trends show many retirees are choosing to remain at home. [8] [7] [9] Weeks and colleagues [9] examined the influence family has in future housing preferences of retirees in Canada. The family can have a significant impact on the housing of the elderly, either by helping them age at home successfully or by delaying or even preventing institutionalization. The study results indicated that 94% of the participants had no intention of moving from their home. Canadian statistics project the retiree population to grow rapidly in the next 30 years, reaching 9.2 million in 2041. As a result, the need for housing and long term facilities will increase dramatically putting strain on an inadequete system.[10]. It is vital to understand the roots of retiree housing preferences (whether family, community or financially based), so appropriate planning can take place to support the housing needs of a growing retiree population and to ensure an acceptable standard in QoL.[9]

[edit] Mobility

Of the critical factors that contribute to quality of life, transportation affects individuals of all ages. A person's independence is intrinsically linked to their mobility and significantly impacts their ability to continue the interactions necessary for their health and well-being.[11] When driving is no longer a safe option for seniors, reliable alternatives must be available. To be deemed a “safe” driver, an individual must demonstrate good vision in high and low contrast conditions, the ability to turn their head quickly to check mirrors, and enough muscle control in the legs to perform routine pedal functions. In addition, individuals must maintain certain cognitive abilities such working memory to remember traffic laws and directions while driving. They must also have adequate visual processing so they can quickly assess possible dangerous situations.[11] Currently, there are numerous motor vehicle modifications that can assist and compensate for reduced driving abilities in the retired population. These modifications include visor extenders, seat and back cushions to help alleviate pain in the back, and easy locking seat belts.[11] Safe transportation is critical for seniors to continue in order to engage in human interactions, and the planning of alternative means of mobility is essential in ensuring a positive quality of life for the retired population.

[edit] Positive Outlooks

As people grow older there are numerous strategies for maintaining health and personal agency. Keeping an active role in planning for the future and increasing awareness about the possible issues one may face during the aging process will ensure a satisfactory retirement and positive outcome in later years.

[edit] Implications of an ageing retiree population on overall society

Since fertility rates have greatly declined in the post-baby boom cohorts, and life expectancy is projected to keep increasing, the effect of the baby boomer generation on society as they proceed to later adulthood will be especially pronounced [12]. Future changes that society may face and implications as a result of the increase in retirees will be reviewed. Specifically, the effects on the Canadian economy and pensions and Healthcare services will be discussed. In addition, future directions and potential solutions to certain problems will be addressed.

[edit] Economy/ Pension

As mentioned, the baby boomers represent a disproportionately large subset of the Canadian population, and as these older adults reach retirement age, it will affect the Canadian economy and workforce. More older retirees will likely be relying on government pensions, which are already approaching over-extension. [13] Exacerbating this is the fact that there will be less adults working as a result of the increase in retirees, and as such, there will be less taxable income that can contribute to pensions and other social programs. [14] This may result in a need to cut governmental spending and social support.[13] Such cuts may also exacerbate poverty rates among the elderly, especially those who are most vulnerable.[15]

These issues will likely affect society as whole, as younger generations may have to pay more in taxes and may receive less government support when it is time for them to retire .[16] This is likely to affect consumer spending and savings patterns.[13] Research from the Unites States has also suggested that inter-generational conflict or tension may arise as a consequence of the strain the baby boomers will place on government programs. [5] Though Canadian research on this phenomenon has failed to identify such tension patterns, it is worth considering that tension may emerge as the proportionately larger Canadian baby boomer population continues to age. [5]

[edit] Healthcare

Compared to other developed nations, Canada is a welfare state, and as such the government provides basic healthcare for all citizens. [14] As a result, the effect of the baby boomers on the nation's healthcare system will also likely be quite profound. As illustrated, Canada's healthcare spending has increased steadily over the past 35 years, and it is projected to keep increasing. [17]


Image:Total_health_expenditure_in_constant_1997_dollars.png[17]


Though one may not expect to see healthcare spending increase in a society with a slow growing population, not all healthcare dollars are spent equally across age groups. [17] As Image 2 illustrates, older adults use many more health services. [17] This is not surprising, as older adults are more likely to suffer chronic illnesses and disabilities, and they are also more likely to require extensive health care towards the end of life.

Image:Spending_on_health_care_per_capita_by_age_group.png[17]



It is also likely that the demographic shift to a retiree nation in Canada will greatly alter the structure of the healthcare system. It is projected that physicians will be in shortage, and therefore, unable to respond to the increase in medical demands from seniors.[18] This will probably lead to a much higher doctor to patient ratio, and will utilize the labour of nurses and nurse practitioners to administer care more often. [18] In order to best serve an aging population, Canada's healthcare system will also require an increased number of direct care workers such as home health aides and nurse's aides. [19] These workers will be responsible for the day-to-day care of many seniors, and they will play an important role in Canada's healthcare system in the future. [19] However, this quota will not be easy to fill, as direct care workers are often overworked and underpaid. [19] It is important to also consider that less people working will mean less taxable income contributing to the provincial and national health funds, which in turn may affect the availability and quality of healthcare services. This is a good illustration of the complex intersection between the high rate of societal retirement, the economy, and the functioning of social institutions.

[edit] Potential Responses

Several solutions have been proposed to help offset the effects of the baby boomer generation leaving the workforce during retirement. One potential solution is to increase in the retirement age, which would require older persons to work for more years, therefore, decreasing the amount of years on pension, and increasing the amount of revenue coming in to the government.[14] This may be a viable way to capitalize on increased life expectancy.Great strides are expected to be made in North American medicine in the coming decades, and it has been suggested that healthcare advances will increase the average life expectancy to over 80 years for males and 86 years for females. [13] The pension age of 65 was originally designated during a period in which relatively few survived into their 70's. [13] In modern society most can expect to live well into their 70's and even 80's. Thus, raising the age of retirement may restore the pension system to a relative equilibrium. However, not all view this as an ideal solution, as it may force unskilled older workers into minimum wage or high stress service jobs, profoundly diminishing the quality of life for many seniors. [15][20]

Canada may also try to increase acceptance of skilled immigrants, which would require dramatic changes to immigration policies. [21] Such changes would ideally try to reduce the hundreds of thousands of back logged permanent immigration applications and nearly five year waiting periods, and balance grants of residency on the basis of labour skills and economic need, as opposed to soley education and family ties. [21]

[edit] Notes and References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Dohm, A. (2000). Gauging the labor force effects of retiring baby-boomers. Monthly Labour Review, 17-26.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Black, S., Gauthier, S., Dalziel, W. et. al. (2009). Canadian Alzheimer’s disease caregiver survey: baby-boomer caregivers and burden of care. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 25, 807-813.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Duchesne, D. (2004). Seniors at work. Perspectives on Labour and Income, 5(2), 5-27.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 England, K. (2010). Home, work, and the shifting geographies of care. Ethics, Place and Environment, 13(2),131-150.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Foot, D.K. (2008). Some economic and social consequences of population aging. Canadian Priorities Agenda, 7, 1-5.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Knickman, J., Snell, E. (2002). The 2030 problem: Caring for aging baby-boomers. Health Services Research, 37(4), 849-884.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Zaninotto, P., Falaschetti, E., & Sacker, A. (2009). Age trajectories of quality of life among older adults: results from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Quality Of Life Research, 18(10), 1301-1309. doi:10.1007/s11136-009-9543-6
  8. Castaldo, J. (2006). WHAT HOMES DO RETIREES WANT?. Canadian Business, 79(14/15), 46-47.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Weeks, L., Branton, O., & Nilsson, T. (2005). The influence of the family on the future housing preferences of seniors in Canada. Housin, Care and Support, 8(2), 29-34.
  10. Hawalshka, D.(2004).Rage Against the Dark. Maclean’s, 117 (36/37), 82-84.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Dickerson, A. E., Molnar, L. J., Eby, D. W., Adler, G., Bédard, M., Berg-Weger, M., & ... Trujiilo, L. (2007). Transportation and Aging: A Research Agenda for Advancing Safe Mobility. Gerontologist, 47(5), 578-590.
  12. Bjorklund, B. (2010). Journey of Adulthood. Toronto: Prentice Hall
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Harper, S. (2010) The capacity of social security and health care institutions to adapt to an ageing world. International Social Security Review, 63, 177-196.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Kim, K., & Lee, Y. (2008). A qualitative comparative analysis of strategies for an ageing society, with special reference to pension and employment policies. International Journal of Social Welfare, 17, 225-235.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Browdie, R. (2010). The future of aging services in America. Generations, 34(3),56-60.
  16. Hirazawa, M., Kitaura, K., & Yakita, A. (2010). Aging, fertility, social security and political equilibrium. The Journal of Population Economics, 23, 559-569.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 Canadian Institute for Health Information (2009),National Health Expenditure Trends, Ottawa, ON: CIHI.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Lawrence, D. M., (2010). Healthcare for elders in 2050. Generations, 34(3), 82-85.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Seavey, D. (2010). Caregivers on the front line: Building a better direct-care workforce.Generations, 34(4), 27-35. .
  20. Powell, J. L. (2010).The power of global aging. Ageing International, 35 1-14.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Olijnyk, Z. (2007). Give us your skilled. Canadian Business, 80(20), 78-85.
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