Over the last 30 years, the median age of Canadians has increased by an astounding 13 years to almost 40 years of age. That means half of the Canadian population is over 40. With the number of seniors increasing at a greater rate than any other age group, we expect that almost one-quarter of the population will be over 65 in the next 25 years.
Knowing that the population is getting older, there will be a greater need to improve the quality of life and well-being of this aging population. Significant research thrusts have already begun to improve our health as we age, so we do not become an extra burden on an already fragile healthcare system. Another area we should focus on is improving the mobility of the senior population.
Research has shown that mobility-disabled seniors are at an increased risk of relative death and are at higher risk for depression. Depression interferes with a person’s everyday life, preventing normal functioning. Furthermore, depression affects more than just the individual. Higher rates of depression can impact the overall economy as there will be increased costs for treatments, as well as a potential decrease in consumer spending if seniors cannot continue their everyday activities. Studies show that even just the capability to be physically active is enough to reduce depressive symptoms. Decreased levels of physical activity alone do not increase such symptoms, suggesting that immobility is the greater concern.
Taking all of this into consideration, it is reasonable to assume there will be an increased demand for mobility devices. Wheelchairs, lifts, walkers, scooters, canes, and possibly even exoskeletons, will help keep the aging population moving. More than ever, engineers and manufacturers must consider the user population when creating such devices. They must ensure mobility devices work for the user, not against the user, from both functional and aesthetic points of view. HumanSystems® takes great pride in helping design tools and equipment that work for the user. We see the value in meeting user needs to promote health and well-being for Canada’s aging population.