The grim reality is that our population is aging and this is always a factor in health care costs.  All the technological advances and health care innovations keep us living longer and longer while managing chronic conditions that would have resulted in death not that long ago.

Related: How mobile technology can improve your health

When all you have to do to get medical care in this country is show your health care card, the actual costs can easily be ignored.  How much does our health care cost us in taxpayer dollars?  70 percent of spending is taken care of by provincial and territorial governments.

According to the Globe and Mail, health care spending was forecasted to reach $211 billion in 2013.

The majority of public funding goes to hospitals.  Surprisingly, only six percent is allocated to drugs/medications even though, according to the National Post, “Canadians pay some of the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world.”

There is always talk of health care reform to reduce future costs – more efficient use of facilities and staff, more generic drugs, and increasingly adopting user pay systems.  But, one of the best ways to reduce your personal health care costs is to take responsibility for your own health.  Even those with genetic predisposition to various illnesses and disabilities can find some relief.

Related: Caring for elderly parents

Boomers will remember growing up with:

  • No seat belts strapping us in the family car.
  • No requirements for bike helmets and knee and elbow pads.
  • The family doctor blowing cigarette smoke in our faces during a routine physical.
  • Chewing on toys painted with lead paint.
  • Dolls and bears with glass eyes and tiny accessories.
  • Asbestos in the walls.
  • Did your parents have trendy fiberglass drapes?
  • Slingshots and peashooters, and bows and arrows with real metal tips.

We’ve made it this far in one piece, now it’s up to us to take it a step further.

Healthy habits

Aging can bring anxiety and fear of declining health and/or disability largely stemming from myths that are exaggerated by the media.

  • How will I care for myself?
  • What if I lose my spouse?
  • What will happen to my mind?
  • Will I be able to pay for medications and care?

While some diseases do become more common, getting older doesn’t automatically mean poor health.  Plenty of older adults enjoy vigorous health well into their 90’s.

Related: The impact of retiring baby boomers on health care

Positive measures such as healthy eating – most of the time – staying physically and socially active, and managing stress can help you cope with change and reduce health risks.  Smoking and obesity are leading causes of chronic conditions.

Many adults don’t exercise as they get older and tend to be overly sedentary.  Check with your doctor and then find an activity that motivates you to continue.

Exercise can maintain your strength and agility, and even diminish chronic pain.  Loss of balance is the main cause of falling that can result in serious injuries to hips, wrists and spine.  Recovery times can often take several months and you may never become fully rehabilitated.

Memory loss is not an inevitable part of aging.  Maybe you don’t remember things as easily any more, but doing some sort of brain training and learning new things can keep your mind sharp.

Final thoughts

You’ve been diligent in socking away money for your golden years.  Make sure you follow the formula for staying healthy as well, so you’re not just surviving – you’re making these years the best moments of your life.

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10 Comments

  1. Dan @ Our Big Fat Wallet on March 11, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Interesting how expensive prescription drugs in Canada are. I used to work for a company that was undergoing a building renovation. It was moving towards a more open concept workplace rather than offices. Near the end of each hallway of offices there was a small area where workers would gather for coffee breaks and smoke. The concept of smoking inside a building, especially a workplace, seems so foreign to me.

  2. Alex G on March 11, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    I would think lower prescription costs (on par with the US at least) to be beneficial. Instead of relying on the younger generation and immigration as a source of income to pay the health care costs!

  3. DIANE on March 12, 2014 at 6:36 am

    Sure the cost of health is expensive. Why.
    Well because they push everyone to live toooo damn long.
    In the old days, like your article states, people died younger. Why people want to live so long, is beyond my comprehension. WHAT is so great about being 80 or more.
    I DON’ T see too many happpppy happppy people over 80 walking around. SURE, there are some, but they have a lot of complaints, and they are bored, most of the time.
    Maybe I am being negative here, but I, myself really think that it is beneficial if people died younger.
    It would not cost so much to run a Health System like we have now. Trying to Keep everyone living to prove that they are all good doctors..,,,, Crazy.

  4. David on March 12, 2014 at 7:32 am

    The comment, “Why people want to live so long, is beyond my comprehension. WHAT is so great about being 80 or more.” must have been said by someone young(ish. I’m going on 67 and want to live as long as I can because there is so much that life offers, whether 40, 60, or 80. I’m going back to school to earn another degree, have my own business, exercise religiously, and bicycle 5000+ yearly! Why limit life? As for the health questions, I’m originally from the States and am greatly blessed to be in Canada with it’s attendant health care system. No better place to live!

  5. Cynzine on March 12, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    I’m not sure what information you base the statement that Canadians pay high Prescription costs, particularly in comparison to the US. In many border cities Americans cross the border to purchase less expensive Prescriptions at Canadian pharmacies. In fact, there are Canadian Pharmacies located close to border crossings to meet the US demand. These US purchasers are often the poor seeking less expensive generic prescriptions, for the same drug.

  6. DIANE on March 12, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    TO DAVID I CAN UNDERSTAND WHY YOU LOVE LIFE.
    BUT YOU HAVE TO ADMIT THAT MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT AS HEALTHY AS YOU ARE AND SO THE SYSTEMS COSTS A LOT OF MONEY. NOT EVERYONE IS AS HEALTHY AS YOU – YES YOU DO WORK AT BEING HEALTHY. BUT AS WE ALL KNOW, SOMETIMES THINGS TURN FOR THE WORSE. YOU MIGHT THINK YOU WILL LIVE TO DO ALL YOU WANT LIKE YOU MENTIONED IN YOUR COMMENT.. WELL I HOPE SO FOR YOU. BUT THAT IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE… BAD LUCK SOMETIMES TURNS YOUR HEALTH …..ACCIDENTS, OR VIRUSES ETC…. AND THEN YOU WON T WANT TO LIVE SO LONG. GOOD LUCK AND I HOPE YOU HAVE ALL YOUR GOALS FULFILLED AND YES DREAMS DO COME TRUE BUT NOT ALWAYS. REMEMBER THAT. MOST OF US ARE NOT AS STRONG AND POSITIVE AS YOU….

    • Boomer on March 13, 2014 at 11:08 am

      @DIANE: I certainly would not want a long life of chronic pain or have my family suffer through my mental deterioration and, unfortunately people do have serious accidents and medical conditions that they suffer from.

      However, many heath care issues are due to previous bad lifestyle choices that have a direct link to poor health and accidents as we age. Keeping active, developing new interests and having good family and social connections make life more enjoyable, and can provide distraction from the inevitable aches and pains.

  7. Gary on March 12, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    maybe negative people like diane should move to another country where life is much shorter (i.e.: Afghanistan) and leave the rest of to grow old and happy. us old codgers have paid our dues and we now intend to collect!

  8. David on March 13, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Diane, I agree that health can be determined by a number of factors outside of my or anyone control: accidents, diseases, etc. However, Maclean’s magazine had an article a couple of years back comparing, among a number of issues, Canada’s health care system vs our cousins south of us. It reported on two important factors: we live longer and the gap is getting wider, and our health care costs per person is $4445 vs $8233 per capita! It’s my opinion that the former is tied to the latter. When it come to our health care system, my cup is always half-full. Actually, listening to the envious comments from family in the States, I should say my cup is brimming over! However, there is no ‘inoculation’ against life. We don’t get off this orb without insults to health, relationships, finances, etc. Since we don’t, my choices are finite: live life positive or negative. It’s my choice . . . as was moving to Canada and enjoying this great health care system 35 years ago.

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