The percentage of older Canadians requiring assistance with health-related tasks due to a long-term health condition increases sharply with age (Chen & Wilkins, 1998). As the first of the Boomers reach age 65 in 2011, it is of great interest to identify trends in disability and support network usage, to better predict future needs and resources within community care. This project used data from five national datasets to investigate the global disability rate and examine socio-demographic characteristics associated with disability and the use of informal and formal support networks to assist older adults with a health problem in performing everyday activities. No significant trend in levels of disability was identified for the period 1994/95-2000/01 when controlling for socio-demographic variables (age, sex, education, marital status, region of residence, and country of origin), suggesting stability in disability rates over time. Analysis of support network utilization revealed socio-demographic characteristics associated with need and receipt of formal and informal support; strong correlations were found for age and disability level.

Bibliographic Notes

This research brief was written by Anne Binette Charbonneau and Lucy Knight.