The number of older people in British Columbia has grown significantly since 1971 and will continue to grow.
• From 1971 to 2002, the number of seniors age 65 and over grew from 9 percent to 13.3 percent of the total estimated population.
• In 2031, seniors will make up an estimated 23.7 percent of the total population in British Columbia. This translates to 1,341,319
seniors in 2031, more than double the number of seniors today.
• During the next five years, the senior population will continue to increase at a higher rate than in previous years.
• Between 2001 and 2004, the number of seniors is expected to increase by 35,125.
• Between 2004 and 2007, the number of seniors is expected to increase by 41,554.
Life expectancy has increased for both men and women in British Columbia over the past 50 years. However, it has increased slightly more for women than for men; in fact, women have consistently had a longer life expectancy than men.
• Average life expectancy at age 65 increased 5.64 years for women and 4.36 years for men between 1950 and 2001.
• In 2002, life expectancy at age 65 was 21.4 years for women and 18.2 years for men.
• Overall life expectancy for seniors at age 65 was 14.5 years in 1950 and 19.8 years in 2001
Most seniors are either married or widowed. Few seniors are single (never married), separated, or divorced. Younger seniors (age 65 to 74) are slightly more likely to be divorced than older seniors.
As age increases, the likelihood of being widowed increases for both men and women. However, senior women are much more likely to be widowed than senior men, and widowhood may lead to social isolation.
• Approximately three-quarters of women age 85 and over are widowed, compared to 26 percent of women age 65 to 74.
• 3 percent of women age 85 and older and 10 percent of women age 65 to 74 are divorced.
• 36 percent of men age 85 and older are widowed compared to 78 percent of women in the same age group.
• 7 percent of men age 65 to 74 and 17 percent of men age 75 to 84 are widowed.
• 92 percent of men age 85 and older are either married or widowed.
• 5 percent of senior men age 65 to 74 and 5 percent of senior men age 75 to 84 are single (never married).