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Chapter 17-Health and Aging Feb 25 2009

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Sheldon Ungar

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February 25th, 2009
New Society: Chapter 17- Health and Aging
Challenging Commonsense Beliefs About Health and Aging
x Global population of centenarians (those aged 100+) is about to increase from 250,000 today->3.7 million in
x Most of these people will live in developed countries (ex: Canada)
Individual and Population Aging
x Today most CDNs are expected to live to old age (barring accidents/wars)
x Ppl can now expect to live 20 years longer than they would of in 1921
x Almost everyone can expect to live to old age (distinguishes our era from historical periods)
x Never before in history did the vast majority of people in a particular country expect to live to old age
x Life Expectancy: the number of years that the average person can expect to live (increased steadily during 20th
x Demography: a research area that studies the characteristics of populations and the dynamics of population
x Canada population= 13% elderly (65+)
x Baby boomers reaching retirement
x Increasing proportion of seniors= decreases in fertility, decline in mortality rates
x Gender
o Women= lower mortality rates for all causes of death than do elderly men
(biological/gender/social/economic factors)
o The gender imbalance increases as everyone the older one becomes
o Gender differential implications:
Women likely to be widowed, not remarry= live alone/nursing homes
Be grandparents longer, have more age peers in the same situation
Men= tend to die before their spouses
Women= kinkeepers; men tend to rely on their wives for social connectedness
x Other Sources of Diversity
o There are more foreign born individuals within CanadaVVHQLRUSRSXODWLRQ
o The ethnocultural composition of our senior population is heavily influenced by the immigration policies
that were in effect during each period of immigration
Ex: 1923- Chinese Immigrant Act; barred Chinese people from entering Canada
o Ethnic minorities constitute a relatively small but important group
o Place of residence= relevant to aging
o Rural areas= higher proportions of seniors
x Apocalyptic Demography
o The belief that a demographic trend, population aging, has drastic negative consequences for society
o Themes:
Aging is a social problem
All old ppl are stereotyped as being the same- ³Zell-RIIJUHHG\JHH]HUV´
The increasing number of seniors is the reason for government debts, deficits, overuse of social
intergenerational conflict
The negative aspect of aging guides social policy reform
o Dependency Ratio: the ration of the economically dependent portion of the population to the
economically productive portion
Number of ppl too young to work (<18) plus the number of ppl who are retired (65+) relative to
those likely to be in the workforce (18-64)
pharmaceuticals and biotechnology rather than aging
o Apocalyptic demography does not withstand a careful review of evidence
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