Projecting the Future Availability of the Informal Support Network of the Elderly Population and Assessing Its Impact on Home Care Services - ARCHIVED

Articles and reports: 91F0015M2008009


In Canada, there has been growing discussion over the aging of the population and other socio-demographic trends which affect the availability of the informal support network of the elderly population. Noting the lower fertility rates of baby boomers, the increased participation of women in the labour force and changing family structure in terms of increased divorce and reconstituted families, assumptions of continued high level assistance from informal support networks - family and friends - are often criticized.

The main objective of this research is to project the future availability of informal support network to meet the need for assistance in performing everyday activities among the disabled elderly population for the period 2001 to 2031. The research examined both sides - supply and demand - of the projected increases in need for assistance for disabled older persons. Future trends are analyzed in terms of demand for support, (that is, changes in the rates of disability among the elderly population), and supply of informal support, (which is largely related to the extent and composition of the family network). Data from two national surveys, the 1996 National Population Health Survey (NPHS) and the 1996 General Social Survey (GSS), are used to identify factors associated with disability and sources of assistance among the elderly population. These results were entered into Statistics Canada's LifePaths microsimulation model to project the use of informal and formal networks in the future. The model also incorporates three disability scenarios to test the sensitivity of the projections when different assumptions are considered. The implications of these trends on the future need for chronic home care services are discussed.

The results show that for the period 2001 to 2031, the average annual growth rate of the number of disabled elderly needing assistance could be about 2.5%. However, the sensitivity analysis shows that an improvement in the health of the population could reduce in a non negligible way this growth rate.

The results also show that, all things being equal, a greater proportion of elderly persons living with a spouse would relieve some of the pressure on the formal network. This positive effect could be dampened in part when joint survivorship is also meaning joint disability.

Issue Number: 2008009
Author(s): Carrière, Yves; Keefe, Janice; Légaré, Jacques; Lin, Xiaofen; Martel, Laurent; Rajbhandary, Sameer; Rowe, Geoff

Main Product: Demographic Documents

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