Seniors in 2020 are leading engaged, fulfilling lives, with a strong focus towards an active living philosophy. Thanks to advancements in medicine and nutrition, life expectancy rates have increased, and more seniors are able to enjoy longer healthier lives.
While there is no set age for what is considered a senior in Canada, some retailers begin offering senior discounts at the age of 55, and government benefits generally apply to people between the ages of 60 and 65.1
The Quality of Life measurement helps us understand the life satisfaction and well-being of this demographic. Interestingly, Canada ranks high on the quality of life scale for seniors. The international study promotes Canada as the fourth best place to live for quality of life for seniors.2
Despite this research, the needs of seniors can vary considerably depending on their unique situations and state of their health. Should these needs be unmet, this can impact their quality of life.
Below, we share the various stages of life seniors may be in, and how needs can vary based on each stage. Note that there are lots of “in-betweens”, and grey areas, especially if a senior also has a disability, which is more likely as people age:
Seniors who are self-reliant are typically more active, require limited help, and can independently complete their usual daily tasks.
Seniors may require some assistance from family and friends. Perhaps they need help getting groceries or need to be driven to various appointments. Some seniors requiring occasional assistance may choose to live in an adult community or an assisted-living residence. These communities provide social programs, encourage independent living, and offer assistance as needed.
Seniors may need a higher level of support. For those fortunate enough, they can hire an in-home caregiver or may choose to live with their adult children to get the additional support they need. If these options aren’t available, then they can live in a residence where there is assistance for regular level of care such as food preparation, cleaning, or personal care.
Many seniors, often in their 80’s or 90’s live in long-term care facilities because they need care beyond what they can do for themselves or their families can provide them. They may require help/supervision from nurses or full-time caregivers, especially if they are in poor health.
Quality of Life for Seniors
In order to improve the quality of life for seniors, it’s necessary to understand how to evaluate quality of life. There are four factors to assess quality of life:3
- Mental Health
- Emotional Well-Being
- Physical Health
- Social Functioning
How to Help Improve the Daily Quality of Life for Seniors
Consider these factors with several ways to improve the quality of life for seniors:
Staying mentally active is important for everyone but can be tough for those who are retired and not working anymore. Involvement in family activities, games, and other hobbies are great ways to stay mentally stimulated and engaged. Many interests may have been put on hold due to work commitments or family obligations. Now seniors can seize the day and use this time to fully explore their interests.
Brain games such as Sudoku and other puzzles can help to increase cognitive functioning, memory and overall mental health. Many of these games are free to access online or through downloaded apps on a smart phone or tablet. Check out this link for a great list of online brain and memory games that are ideal for seniors. Board games are great for mental stimulation and social interaction as well.
Beyond games, seniors can pursue online courses and continuing education. Once post-secondary schools open again and depending on the institution, if seniors are 65 or older, they can attend classes without paying tuition or supplementary fees. This not only stimulates their brains but can provide opportunities for social engagement with classmates and professors.
It’s natural to feel lonely, sad or isolated at times. Ensuring that seniors have a strong support system of family, friends, community members, or professionals, can help them during difficult times or when they need emotional comfort.
If can be helpful for seniors to compile a list of other activities that serve to lift their spirits when feeling down. Maybe it’s cross-country skiing, dance classes, or going for a walk. These sources of comfort and joy can be valuable tools for working through an emotional rough patch.
There are several ways to get the recommended amount of daily physical activity in order to maintain a positive quality of life. Depending on the level of ability, seniors can choose from a wide range of not only heart-healthy exercises but also ones that can help to strengthen bones and balance. Falls are one of the main reasons seniors end up in the hospital. Therefore, using exercise to build strength and improve balance can be extremely beneficial to help seniors avoid fractures. Seniors can participate in various activities such as walking, cycling, water aerobics and line dancing.
It’s important for seniors to get outdoors, as being outdoors helps increase overall wellness.4 During any season of the year depending on the temperature there’s opportunities to get fresh air during a walk in your neighbourhood, visiting a community garden or enjoying an outing to a park. Studies show that getting exercise while in nature can be beneficial to senior’s well-being.5
Sleeping can be challenging for some seniors who experience aches, pains and as a result have difficulties sleeping. A consistent bedtime routine can be a great solution to getting sleep back on track. Try meditating, playing music, or taking a relaxing bath to help wind down before bed. Limiting use of any technological devices with artificial lights such as TV, computer, smartphone, etc. at least one hour before bedtime can boost your melatonin levels to improve quality of sleep.6
Many seniors may not have children living in the same city or may no longer have the same social circle. Therefore, a residence or senior home can provide opportunities for social interaction with others to encourage positive feelings.
Another way seniors can connect and strengthen social bonds with others in the community is by spending time in community centres. They organize events or programs year-round specifically for seniors to enjoy.
One of the most fulfilling ways to connect with others is through volunteering. Seniors can talk to community members or research online to find a cause or foundation that matters to them. Supporting those in need can be both rewarding, and a great social outlet.
Technology isn’t exclusively for younger generations to enjoy. Seniors are also using technology in their everyday lives to improve their own quality of life. Seniors are online now more than ever with internet usage increasing. For 65-74-year old seniors, internet usage increased from 65% in 2013 to 81% in 2016.7 Many seniors own at least one of the following devices: desktop computer, laptop, e-reader and smartphone.4
Social connection is one of the most important measures of quality of life. Social media, email, and other internet apps can be used by seniors to connect with friends and family. These tools make it easy for seniors to always maintain a connection with others and ward off loneliness. Technology has become a powerful tool especially during the coronavirus pandemic. It is helping seniors to stay connected with family, friends, and participate in larger social gatherings online.
Technology is not just a tool for social connection for seniors, technology also supports the other three contributors of Quality of Life. With a vast collection of videos, tutorials, and resources available online, seniors are also using technology to stay fit, pursue new hobbies, access like-minded communities, and seek support when needed.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2015, one in five Canadians aged 65 and older, or nearly 1.1 million seniors, reported working during the year.8 This is the highest proportion of seniors recorded since the 1981 Census.8 This indicates a trend of more seniors choosing to work longer and retire later.
The percentage of seniors who reported working, nearly doubled between 1995 and 2015. Most of the increase was from part-year or part time work.5 This Increase in work activity was observed for senior men and women alike. 5
It is, however, unclear as to whether seniors are choosing to work later to stay active or out of necessity for an income.5 The cost of living has increased over time, and since pensions do not necessarily increase at the same rate, seniors may be working to pay off outstanding debt such as mortgages.
It’s important to determine if any existing employer benefits have adequate coverage. Depending on the employer, some may provide only basic life coverage which may need to be topped-up, depending on any health or coverage needs. Many group employer plans only cover working years, or up to age 65. Further, in the event of a layoff or job change, any coverage is lost. Seniors who were working contract or were self-employed, likely don’t have access to these employer life insurance benefits at all.
In many of these cases, life insurance can play an important role in financially protecting family and loved ones in the event of death. Individual life insurance plans typically cover longer periods and extend into retirement when compared to employer plans. Further, an individual plan provides peace of mind that the policy remains, despite any job losses or changes.
Why No Medical Life Insurance May Be a Good Option for Some Seniors
No medical life insurance can be a great option for seniors for several key reasons:
- Life Insurance offers financial protection for loved ones, providing coverage for any outstanding debts such as a mortgage and final expenses.
- Even if there are existing health issues, No Medical life insurance can still provide coverage. The no medical application process involves answering some health-related questions but doesn’t require a medical test or exam (no drawing of fluids). This makes the application process easy and straightforward.
- Depending on the life insurance provider, as well as the plan and coverage, members are entitled to many complimentary benefits.
- Seniors with life insurance benefit from the freedom to spend their hard-earned assets, without having to put aside funds for final expenses.
- Depending on the life insurance plan or provider seniors can apply for no medical life insurance up to the age of 80. While traditional life insurance often has an average age of 65 to apply for coverage.
Seniors are Valued Members of our Society
Seniors make up a large, vital segment of our population. They are active, engaged members of our communities, and have a lifetime of wisdom and experience to share with younger generations. Therefore, improving the quality of life for seniors should be a priority as it helps to lift society as a whole.
- 1 https://elder.findlaw.ca/article/what-age-is-someone-considered-a-senior/
- 2 https://chartwell.com/en/blog/2014/10/canada-ranks-high-in-quality-of-life-for-seniors
- 3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3593634/
- 4 https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/sour-mood-getting-you-down-get-back-to-nature
- 5 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110204130607.htm
- 6 https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-940/melatonin
- 7 https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2019024-eng.htm
- 8 https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/as-sa/98-200-x/2016027/98-200-x2016027-eng.cfm