Aging well: Time use patterns of older Canadians
Authors: Donna Dosman, Norah Keating, and Susan Stobert
This study provides a detailed analysis of findings based on the 2005 General Social Survey on Time Use, with some analysis of trends over time using the 1992 and 1998 time use surveys. It addresses whether older Canadians are aging well by examining the relative importance their time use patterns and health have on their overall life satisfaction. Like other countries in the Western world, Canada’s population is aging. For more than a decade, our society has been concerned with the negative aspects of population aging such as how to care for those who are old, or how to manage pension schemes for increasing numbers of retirees. Yet with the impending retirement of a large cohort of baby boomers, the attention has been turned to more positive aspects of aging. The term ‘aging well’ now has become part of the language when thinking about older adults. Aging is seen as an ongoing process of managing the challenges associated with life transitions and with changing levels of personal resources such as health, wealth and social connections. Those who age well are able to find a balance or fit between their activities and these resources and to remain satisfied with their lives. For women and men, and for younger and older seniors, the ideal balance may differ, though for both, health is a key resource. In fact, one of the key theories of aging well is that those who are in good health have the potential to have more choices over their daily activities and are more likely to feel satisfied with their lives. Active engagement is seen as another key component of aging well. Time use patterns of older Canadians provide a useful window into understanding aging well. This study examines the main components of aging well-activity patterns and health of older Canadians. It considers several questions about aging well: 1. What are the activity patterns of older Canadians? 2. What are the trends in activity patterns over time? These two questions provide a picture of how older adults are engaged in various activities and whether levels of activity patterns change with age: 3. What are the levels of health of older Canadians? 4. How do levels of health change with age? These two questions provide a picture of how the ‘resource’ of health may differ among older Canadians. 5. What is the relationship among activity patterns, health and life satisfaction? This final question provides insight into the relative importance of health and activity level in aging well.
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