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Lessons from Canada's older adults

Lessons from Canada's older adults

on
July 7th, 2020
Lessons from Canada's older adults

81-year-old PhD candidate Olive Bryanton wants arm policy makers with more data about Canada's older female population and what they need to age in place.

Over the last century, Canadians have become healthier, steadily prolonging their lifespan and making Canada an older country. There are currently 6.6 million Canadians over the age of 65, and approximately 10,000 are 100 years or older. The growth of this age group is fast outpacing their younger counterparts, and is expected to expand by 21-29 percent in the next two decades. The late feminist writer Betty Friedan famously said, “aging is not lost youth, but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Unfortunately, there’s very little information about Canada’s older adults to help us tap into that opportunity. Despite being a significant part of the country’s population, there isn’t much data on the experiences of Canadians 65 and over that is not related to their healthcare needs. While the majority of them may no longer be part of the country’s workforce, those aged 65 and older remain active in their communities. For this week’s CanCon recommendations, here are three CBC documentaries that unpack what life looks like for Canada’s older adult population.

Never Too Old (44 minutes)

Most of what we know about Canada’s older adults revolves around the cost of caring for them. Yet, those who access care account for only ten percent of the country’s entire aging population. We know very little about the remaining 90 percent — what contributes to their quality of life, how they access services outside of healthcare, the list goes on. At 81, PhD candidate Olive Bryanton is determined to change that. She has been working on research that looks into what women over 85 need in order to age in place. And she wants that information to shape policies that affect the women’s lives. Olive’s story, Never Too Old is a powerful CBC documentary about one senior who’s on a mission to change the way her peers experience life.

Watch the documentary here.

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The Art of Downsizing (44 minutes)

Life is a journey, it’s often said, and there’s only so much we can take with us on the road. The three seniors in this documentary are at a crossroads between living on their own and moving to a retirement community. They face the monumental task of downsizing their entire lives to fit into a future with much less space. With households full of things that carry meaning and invaluable memories, they and their loved ones spend days deciding, negotiating and arguing about what to keep and what to let go. Award-winning filmmaker Geeta Sondhi weaves a poignant and sometimes painful picture of the difficult decisions seniors have to make as they grow older.

Watch the documentary here.


Canadian-made documentaries to enjoy at home:
KaYaMenTA: Sharing Truths About Menopause (18 minutes)

Safe and reliable information about women’s health—particularly aging women—is hard to find. So when filmmaker Jules Koostachin began experiencing symptoms of menopause, she turned to her Indigenous elders for help and advice. Koostachin brings together five IsKwewak (women) to talk about their experiences with night sweats, hormonal changes and the emotional rollercoaster that accompany this pivotal life stage. Through hilarious anecdotes, frank observations and some tears, these women explore a taboo topic that undoubtedly deserves a bigger spotlight.

Watch this documentary here.

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