Canada has entered uncharted territory – the 2016 Census revealed that for the first time, there are more people over age 65 than children 14 and under.
As a whole, older Canadians have never been healthier, or better off financially. Yet the big picture obscures the stark snapshots underneath...
In our society, growing older often robs people of status, a sense of being valued, and even self-respect.
We wonder - if I can’t contribute as I once did, or my mind is not as clear as once it was, or my personality seems to be muted, if awareness of my life story fades, what remains? Am I more than just a difficult obligation?
Yet tens of thousands of Canadians want something better for their aging family member or neighbour or friend. And hundreds of organizations pursue a different, richer vision of what it means to grow into senior status and beyond as a Canadian.
Because of them, and because of any aging person who needs some support to preserve a dignified, decent and emotionally healthy life, there is The Grand Parade.
The Grand Parade is a moment when Canadians step out to publicly honour aging friends and family, and to fundraise on behalf of the charities who support them.
We walk for our parents, dear aunt, favourite uncle, younger sister, and great-grandparents.
We walk to shine the light of appreciation on those who go before us. We walk to celebrate their contribution, and to declare their place in our hearts.
We walk as people and organizations committed to serving when age begins to demand its due. In a time obsessed with the now and the new, we treasure the experience, wisdom and character of our elders.
We walk together, past obligation and duty, through concern and then care, all the way to dignity and respect. Proudly, publicly, we proclaim our commitment and love.
"Given the reality of population aging in Canada, knowing more about the older population is important, notably because of increased needs for health care and other services. The population aged 85 and older contribute in many ways to society - for example, by sharing their wisdom, acting as role models and fostering family relationships across generations."
- 2016 Canadian Census report
Statistics Canada's 2016 census reported that there are now 5.9 million Canadian seniors 65 and older, compared to 5.8 million Canadians 14 and under - a jump of 20 per cent since 2011.
The census makes clear that Eastern Canada is "considerably older that in western provinces" although Ontario is split evenly between old and young.
You likely already suspected this given our understanding of longevity. But the fact is, there were 20 percent more women than men aged 65 or older. And, the older we get, the more acutely that fact is reflected. In Canada, there are two women for every man older than 85!
Compared to other countries like the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, and Japan, Canada's seniors make up a lower share of the population than every country but the USA.
Percentage of population aged 65 plus
Canadians aged 85 or older
The age group that has grew by 20% in the past 5 years)
Number of Canadian of 85-year-olds living in collective dwellings such as nursing homes, long-term care, and seniors residences
Number of Canadians over the age of 100
2 to 1
Ratio of women to men aged 85 and older
This 5-year period registered Canada's largest increase in the proportion of seniors since Confederation.