The Health of Canadian Seniors Compared to Seniors Worldwide

March 29, 2018

Have you ever wondered how Canadian seniors’ healthcare, health and wellbeing compares to seniors in other countries?

Earlier this year, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) released an interesting report that did just that!

The findings were based on a larger-scale Commonwealth Fund report that surveyed seniors from:

  • Canada (approximately 4,500 seniors ages 65 and over); and
  • Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States

Here are five particularly fascinating pieces of information that caught our retirement living advisors’ attention at Tea & Toast:

Canadian seniors take more medication than those in many other countries

Summary: According to the report, one-third of Canadian seniors live with at least three chronic conditions. Plus, more seniors in Canada are taking 5+ medications regularly—much more than seniors in most other countries!

Our take: This doesn’t necessarily surprise us at Tea & Toast. When we meet with senior citizens and their families, we often hear about how seniors are using different medications prescribed by different doctors. Often, there is a way to reduce that number. In a retirement residence environment, we find the level of coordination between health care providers is often more streamlined, which ensures more efficient monitoring of seniors’ medications and conditions.

More Canadian seniors have mental health problems than in many other countries


The only countries with higher rates of senior mental health issues were the United Kingdom and the U.S. (Australia had the same rate as Canada; the Netherlands had the lowest rate). And to boot: 94% of the Canadian seniors who reported having depression, anxiety or other mental health problems said they live with other chronic medical conditions.

Our take:

It’s widely reported that seniors’ social isolation can lead to a greater risk of depression and even suicide. At Tea & Toast, we often find that with our clients, mental health concerns are compounded by loneliness—as well as the “unknown” of what may happen to them as they grow older. That’s why retirement communities are a great option for seniors—particularly if they need social interaction to feel happier and lead a more fulfilling life.

A lot of Canadian seniors consider themselves healthy.


Despite the information above, over 80% of Canadian seniors who participated in the survey rated their own health as ‘good’ to ‘excellent!’ (Canada ranked second in self-perceived health among the list of 11 countries, just coming in behind New Zealand.)

Our take:

This is something we see regularly at Tea & Toast. Often, family members want their loved ones to move into an assisted living facility so they have access to better healthcare—but the person in question has a different (and often more optimistic) perception of their own health. Sometimes, they just don’t realize the impact that their declining health may have on their eventual ability to care for themselves.

Woman running with a Canadian flag
A lot of Canadian seniors consider themselves healthy

Canadian seniors aren’t taking advantage of technology.


Only 15% of respondents said they were using wearable devices or digital technology—like a smartphone, watch, tablet etc.—to keep track of their own health. That means a very large number of seniors in Canada are not taking advantage of tech tools that improve their wellbeing and safety.

Our take:

We see this quite often at Tea & Toast. A fall is a common reason why family members come to us, looking for affordable senior housing for their aging parent or relative. And while we have met some seniors who use technology such as emergency pendants, they don’t often wear them because they don’t feel the need to.

Canadian seniors have a harder time accessing timely primary health care.


When it comes to securing same-day or next-day appointments with a doctor, 59% of Canadian seniors are having trouble doing so. Plus, 62% said they have trouble getting care after regular clinic hours (outside of going to the emergency room or hospital). Compared to other countries regarding accessing timely primary care, Canada ranked below the international average.

Our take:

Why do seniors often move to retirement housing? Many of these homes provide full- or part-time healthcare services or have healthcare providers coming in regularly to visit the residents.

Tea & Toast is here for you

Are you concerned about the healthcare needs of your ageing parent or relative?

Are you a senior in search of a new home with specific healthcare-related services?

If the answer is yes, let’s talk.

Based in Ottawa, Tea & Toast provides a retirement living search service. Together, we can help find the perfect home that fits your criteria. Questions? Contact us today at or 613-698-1319.

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