Canadians may be older now when they become grandparents, but they're living longer and healthier lives with their grandchildren.
Photo Credit: Getty Images / XiXinXing

Grandparents, older and healthier in Canada


Grandparents in Canada, are a growing segment of the population, and they’re living longer, and more importantly, healthier.

These are some of the findings Professor Rachel Margolis reveals in her paper for the Vanier Institute for the Family.

Canadians (aged 100 and over) are currently the fastest-growing age group: there were 8,200 centenarians in 2016 (up 41 per cent since 2011).”

Rachel Margolis is associate professor of Sociology at the University of Western Ontario,

The aging of Canada’s population, the ‘Silver Tsunami’ as we hear it often described, is becoming a reality as more baby-boomers move into their senior years.

But this post-war generation is aging a little differently, and so are their families.

They’re becoming grandparents later in life for one, as younger women are delaying having children, and even with that delay, they’re actually grandparents now for longer.

“Death rates at the oldest ages are declining”, Margolis says, and continuing to decline more rapidly now than in the past.”

“The oldest Canadians (aged 100 and over) are currently the fastest-growing age group: there were 8,200 centenarians in 2016 (up 41 per cent since 2011).” Margolis writes.

According to Statistics Canada, there could be 40,000 people over the age of 100 by 2051.

Margolis credits this amazing trend to two factors:  “there’s a robust population of older people that’s actually taken quite good care of themselves, and we know that the oldest old, are more likely to have had healthy behaviors throughout their whole lives, and embracing multi-generational relationships.”

Percentage of Canadians who are Grandparents, by Age Group, 1985 and 2011  © Professor Rachel Margolis

Margolis says these changes are major and they haven’t really been examined until recently.

Healthy grandparents are making significant contributions to the family as a whole.

“There are lots of grandparents in Canada that are main childcare providers for grandchildren.” says Margolis.

Others live with their grandchildren and provide important after-school care.

Whether they live with grandchildren or not,grandparents, or one grandparent, can provide important support for families, in the ways of personal and social development.

Margolis credits grandparents with helping the younger generation manage the myriad family responsibilities, particularly in double-income homes where both parents work.

And grandparents can play an important role financially as well. There are families in some of the most expensive real estate markets where multi-generational living is the only way to get a foothold in the market.

“Three-generation families are most common among First Nations and Metis families and then secondly, among immigrant families in the largest metropolitan areas of Canada.”

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One comment on “Grandparents, older and healthier in Canada
  1. Viviane Blais says:

    Living past 100 doesn’t mean you’re healthy. What percentage of centenarians spend the last 20 years of their lives staying with relatives or in a nursing home, in an increasing state of confusion and disability?