Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Engaging ideas, transforming minds

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Aging and Older Adults in Canada: Demographics and Health Status

(Chapter 1 by Peggy Edwards)

Relevant Readings

Bloom, D. E. (2020). Population 2020: Demographics can be a potent driver of the pace and process of economic development. Finance & Development 57(1). https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2020/03/changing-demographics-and-economic-growth-bloom.htm#author

A paper about how Global, regional, and country demographic indicators have changed dramatically since the early 1950s and are poised for equally dramatic changes in the coming decades. Population aging continues to displace population growth as the focal point of interest among global demographic phenomena.

Chateau, D., Doupe, M., Prior, H., et al. (2019). The Health Status of Community-Dwelling Older Adults in Manitoba. Winnipeg: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy. http://mchp-appserv.cpe.umanitoba.ca/reference/Senior2_Report_web.pdf

This 2019 report provides a comprehensive picture of the physical and mental health status of older adults (who live in the community) in Manitoba.

Chief Public Health Officer's Report on The State of Public Health in Canada – Growing older: Adding life to years. (2010). Public Health Agency Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/corporate/publications/chief-public-health-officer-reports-state-public-health-canada/annual-report-on-state-public-health-canada-2010.html

This comprehensive report examines the state of health and well-being of Canada's seniors, including factors that positively or negatively influence healthy aging such as falls and related injuries, mental health, abuse and neglect, social connectedness, healthy living, and care and services. From this examination, priority areas for action are identified where Canada can further foster optimal conditions for healthy aging.

CIHR Institute of Aging Strategic Plan 2019–2021: Living Longer, Living Better. (2019). Canadian Institutes of Health Research. https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/51447.html

The CIHR Institute of Aging identifies and addresses through research and other actions, the knowledge gaps and opportunities related to Canada’s aging population. The 2019–2021 Strategic Plan describes the aging landscape and two main directions: 1) the determinants of health and wellness along the life-long trajectory of aging, and 2) the complex health challenges of the older individual and their caregivers, as well as some cross-cutting strategic directions.

Gratton, L. and Scott, A. (2016). The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

According to experts, half the babies born in wealthier countries since 2000 may reach their 100th birthday. So, what are the implications of having all this extra time? Drawing on the unique pairing of their experience in psychology and economics, Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott offer a broad-ranging analysis as well as a raft of solutions, showing how to rethink your finances, your education, your career and your relationships and create a fulfilling 100-year life.

Linkages Reading List: Diversity and Inequality Considerations for Older Adults. (2019). Seniors Health Knowledge Network. https://sagelink.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Diversity-Inquality-Considerations-for-Older-Adults.pdf

A list of further resources provided by Seniors Health Knowledge Network. Topics include minorities, equity, social determinants of health, culture, and palliative care.

Linkages Reading List: Falls and Older Adults. (2019). Seniors Health Knowledge Network. https://sagelink.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Falls-Older-Adults.pdf

A list of further resources provided by Seniors Health Knowledge Network. Topics include balance training, fear of falling, falls in neurodegenerative disease, traumatic brain injury, orthostatic hypotension, osteoporosis, diabetes, Tai Chi, and more.

Linkages Reading List: Frailty in Older Adults. (2020). Seniors Health Knowledge Network. https://sagelink.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Frailty-Reading-Lists-20201215.pdf

A list of further resources provided by Seniors Health Knowledge Network. Topics include screening, prognostic markers, comorbidities, physical activity, fractures, and more.

Linkages Reading List: Function and Quality of Life in Older Age. (2020). Seniors Health Knowledge Network. https://sagelink.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Function-Quality-of-Life-in-Older-Age.pdf

A list of further resources provided by Seniors Health Knowledge Network. Topics include activities of daily living (ADL), exercise, cognition, dementia, frailty, supportive programs, and environmental considerations.

Linkages Reading List: Sensory Impairment in Later Life. (2021). Seniors Health Knowledge Network. https://sagelink.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Sensory-Impairment-Reading-Lists-20210422.pdf

A list of further resources provided by Seniors Health Knowledge Network. Topics include risk of cognitive impairment, frailty, social connection and participation, vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.

Linkages Reading List: Speech, Language, and Hearing in Older Age. (2019). Seniors Health Knowledge Network. https://sagelink.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Speech-Language-and-Hearing-in-Older-Age.pdf

A list of further resources provided by Seniors Health Knowledge Network. Topics include hearing loss, aphasia, cognitive communication disorders, stroke, dysarthria, non-invasive brain stimulation, dysphonia, and presbyphonia.

Linkages Reading List: Suicide and the Older Adult. (2019). Seniors Health Knowledge Network. https://sagelink.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Suicide-and-the-Older-Adult.pdf

A list of further resources provided by Seniors Health Knowledge Network. Topics include risk, antidepressants and suicidal behaviour, predictors of suicidal ideation, medical illness and risk of suicide, screening and assessment, prevention, and more.

Public Health Agency Canada Public Health Agency of Canada. (2020). Aging and chronic diseases: A profile of Canadian seniors. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/aging-chronic-diseases-profile-canadian-seniors-executive-summary.html

A comprehensive report on data from the 2014 Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System (CCDS) and the 2015 and 2017 Canadian Community Health Surveys (CCHS).

Rosenberg, M. W., Wilson, K., Abonyi, S., et al. (2009). “Older Aboriginal Peoples in Canada—Demographics, Health Status, and Access to Care.” Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 249. McMaster University. https://ideas.repec.org/p/mcm/sedapp/249.html

This paper takes advantage of 2006 Census data, the Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) and the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) to highlight some basic demographic trends among Older Aboriginal Peoples, their health status, and their use of health services.

Scott, K. (2019). Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women regarding the challenges faced by senior women. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/submission-house-commons-standing-committee-status-women-regarding-challenges

Age and gender are only two of many intersecting factors—such as race, living arrangements, education and employment, disability, sexual identity, and immigrant status—that affect economic security. This report describes the intersections of these experiences and identities that reveal the challenges that different groups of senior women face and what’s needed by way of solutions that meet their unique needs.

Srugo, S., Jiang, Y., de Groh, M. (2019). At-a-glance. Living arrangements and health status of seniors in the 2018 Canadian Community Health Survey. Public Health Agency Canada. https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/documents/services/reports-publications/health-promotion-chronic-disease-prevention-canada-research-policy-practice/vol-40-no-1-2020/en-3-srugo.pdf

This analysis presents sociodemographic characteristics and measures of health and social well-being of seniors by living arrangement. A key finding is that seniors who were female, older, lower-income, divorced or separated, living in a population centre, renters and less educated were most likely to live alone. Those who live alone were also more likely to report poor perceived health and social well-being. These results may be useful in targeting policies and programs aimed to improve health outcomes among seniors.

Statistics Canada. (2018) Analysis: Population by age and sex. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/91-215-x/2018002/sec2-eng.htm

This article provides a summary analysis of population aging in Canada.

Tan, Erwin J. (2020). How Growing Geographic and Racial Disparities Inhibit the Ability to Live Longer and Healthier Lives. Washington, DC: AARP Thought Leadership. https://doi.org/10.26419/int.00046.001

While researchers previously understood that geographical disparities impacted people at birth, we now know that where you are living at age 50 matters just as much. Conditions and the general environment in which people at any age live, learn, work, play, and worship have tremendous influence on health and longevity. We have seen this play out during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken an ever-rising death toll climbing into the hundreds of thousands, disproportionately affecting communities of colour. Economic inequality and systemic disparities that existed long before the arrival of COVID-19 have compounded the impact of the virus.

United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World Population Ageing 2019: Highlights. https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/ageing/WorldPopulationAgeing2019-Highlights.pdf

This publication presents the highlights of the report World Population Ageing 2019 based on the latest population estimates and projections. The highlights: 1) overview key global and regional trends and dynamics of population aging based on conventional measures; 2) provide more nuanced view of changes over time; 3) describe conventional and alternative old-age dependency ratios and consumption patterns of older people; and 4) conclude with evidence-based recommendations to assist policymakers in addressing both the challenges and the opportunities of population aging in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Westwood, S. (Ed.). (2018). Ageing, Diversity and Equality: Social Justice Perspectives. London: Imprint Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315226835

This book aims to challenge and provoke the normativity in social gerontology and offer an alternative approach, which highlights the heterogeneity and diversity of aging, associated inequalities and their intersections, in relation to: gender and sexualities, culture, ethnicity and religion, aging with disabilities and/or long-term health conditions, care, and aging spatiality. Multidisciplinary in nature with contributions from leading UK and international authors, this edited collection utilizes a framework of a social justice perspective in order to analyze inequalities of resources, recognition, and representation.

World Health Organization (2007). Women, Ageing and Health: A Framework for Action. https://unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/women_ageing.pdf

This report summarizes the evidence about women, aging, and health from a gender perspective and provides a framework for developing action plans to improve the health and well-being of aging women. Examines in detail the factors that affect the health of older women.

Relevant Websites and Organizations

Statistics Canada: Canada’s Population Clock


Canada’s Population Clock models in real time changes to the size of the Canadian population and the provinces and territories.

Statistics Canada: Census Program


This web module is designed to provide easy access to census data, free of charge. Information is organized into broad categories, including analytical products, data products, reference materials, geography, and a video centre.

Statistics Canada, Comparison Age Pyramid (2011 and 2016)


Allows users to compare the age structure of two different geographical entities for Canada, the provinces, and territories.

Statistics Canada, Historical Age Pyramid (1851 to 2036)


Shows changes in the age structure of Canada, and the provinces and territories over time.

Statistics Canada, Housing and Family and Household Characteristics of Seniors


Articles, reports, and data on senior census families, transitions to long-term and residential care, income statistics, living arrangements, and housing indicators.

Infographics and Fact Sheets

Public Health Agency of Canada (2019). Prevalence Chronic Disease Older Adults. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/prevalence-canadian-adults-infographic-2019.html

Statistics Canada. (2020). Canadians with a Mobility Disability. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2020085-eng.htm

Statistics Canada. (2020). Inequalities in life expectancy in Canada, 2011 to 2016. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2020004-eng.htm

Statistics Canada. (2020). The Visible Minority Population with a Disability in Canada: Employment and Education. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2020086-eng.htm

Vanier Institute of the Family. (2017). Seniors and Family Finances in Canada. https://vanierinstitute.ca/fact-sheet-seniors-and-family-finances-in-canada/

Vanier Institute of the Family. (2017). A Snapshot of Population Aging and Intergenerational Relationships in Canada. https://vanierinstitute.ca/a-snapshot-of-population-aging-and-intergenerational-relationships-in-canada/

Vanier Institute of the Family. (2019). Working Seniors in Canada https://vanierinstitute.ca/facts-and-stats-working-seniors-in-canada-2019-update

Relevant Videos

BBC. (2010, November 26). Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats – BBC Four. YouTube. (4 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojo

This video tells the story with animated data of 200 countries over 200 years using 120,000 numbers—in just four minutes. Plotting life expectancy against income for every country since 1810, Rosling shows how the world we live in is radically different from the world most of us imagine.

CBC. (2015, August 19). How to Age Gracefully | CBC Radio. YouTube. (5 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sycgL3Qg_AkCBC

People of all ages offer words of wisdom to their younger counterparts. Based on a story originally aired on CBC Radio WireTap.

LifeHunters. (2016, December 23). Life Lessons from 100 year olds. YouTube. (5 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AThycGCakk

Three centenarians were asked the secret of their longevity. With simple grace and wisdom, they give us an insight into the optimism and humor that sustain them. They exemplify the value of listening to and learning from the lessons of one's own life as they remind us to "keep right on to the end of the road".

Jonathan Ezer. (2013, October 16). Population Aging and the Demographic Transition. YouTube. (29 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXC1SjDm8WY

This video explains the phenomenon of our aging population and the demographic transition as well as the social and economic impacts on countries.

TED. (2019, November 9). Hans Rosling Global Population Growth, box by box. YouTube. (10 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXGPxXGYMus

The world’s population will grow to 9 billion over the next 50 years—and only by raising the living standards of the poorest can we check population growth.

TED-Ed. (2013, April 17). How to live to be 100+ - Dan Buettner. YouTube. (19 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ff40YiMmVkU

To find the path to long life and health, Dan Buettner and team study the world's "Blue Zones," communities whose elders live with vim and vigor to record-setting age. In his talk, he shares the nine common diet and lifestyle habits that keep them spry past age 100.

Waldinger, Robert. (2015, November). What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness. TED. (10 minutes). https://www.ted.com/talks/robert_waldinger_what_makes_a_good_life_lessons_from_the_longest_study_on_happiness?

What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it's fame and money, you're not alone—but you're likely mistaken. Robert Waldinger is the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.

The Walrus. (2017, April 25). The Future of Aging | Maxwell Hartt | Walrus Talk. YouTube. (6 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Si4dQKP-bs

Maxwell Hartt, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto’s Department of Geography and Planning elaborates on the future of aging, and its effect on cities.

Key Concepts in Health Promotion and Gerontology

(Chapter 2 by Irving Rootman and Mélanie Levasseur)

Relevant Readings

Antonovsky, A. (1979). Health stress and coping. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

This book raises the question of what creates “health” rather than “disease.” Antonovsky suggests and discusses the term “salutogenesis” to encourage more thinking and research about the determinants of health rather than of disease.

Antonovsky, A. (1987). Unravelling the concept of health. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Antonovsky's book challenges the health care community to reassess its approach to health. He asserts that the focus for too long has been solely on illness and the treatment of specific disease, with little or no attention directed at the factors and conditions necessary for health

Contandriopoulos, A. P. (2005). A “topography” of the concept of health. In R. Lyons (Ed.), Social Sciences and Humanities Health Research (pp. 13–15). Ottawa: Canadian Institute of Health Research. https://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2007/cihr-irsc/MR21-58-2005E.pdf

This interesting article considers contributions from the social sciences and humanities to thinking about the concept of health. Also in the same volume is a one-page article (p. 120) by Contandriopoulos and other Canadian colleagues on a proposed project to integrate approaches and perspectives about the concept of health from the social and life sciences and an article by I. Rootman on the concept of Health Promotion (pp. 41-42).

Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors (n.d.) Thinking about aging in place. https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/seniors/forum/aging.html

This document/website explains the concept of “aging in place” and provides older adults with some things to consider when planning to age in place.

Government of Quebec (2018). Concept Note: International Technical Meeting—Aging in Place. https://extranet.who.int/agefriendlyworld/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Concept-note.pdf

In preparation for the International Technical Meeting on Aging in Place, Québec prepared a concept diagram, a tool used to clarify and define the topic.

Raphael, D. (Ed.). (2010). Health promotion and quality of life in Canada: Essential Readings. Toronto: Canadian Scholars.

This book contains a series of papers produced by the University of Toronto Centre for Health Promotion’s Quality of Life Unit, as well as other papers written for the volume. It explores the integral link between quality of life and public policy choices.

Raphael, D. (Ed.) (2016). Social determinants of health: Canadian perspectives (3rd edition). Toronto: Canadian Scholars.

This edition discusses key issues related to the social determinants of health in Canada and elsewhere including income security, employment, education, literacy, health literacy, food, shelter, social exclusion, and public policy.

Rashbrook, E. (2019). Health Matters: Prevention - A Life Course Approach. Public Health England. https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2019/05/23/health-matters-prevention-a-life-course-approach/

This resource further explores the concept of life course and a life course approach to the prevention of ill health. The resource signposts to evidence-based interventions and tools, as well as to evaluation and monitoring techniques.

Reid, C., Pederson, A. and Dupéré, S. (2012). Addressing diversity and inequities in health promotion: The implications of intersectional theory. In I. Rootman, S. Dupéré, A. Pederson, and M. O’Neill (Eds.), Health promotion in Canada; Critical perspectives on practice (3rd ed.) (pp. 54-66). Toronto: Canadian Scholars.

This chapter discusses where intersectional theory came from and its potential contributions to health promotion research and practice.

Roberts, W. (2016). Ottawa Charter on Health Promotion: The Guerilla Update. https://medium.com/@wayneroberts/ottawa-charter-for-health-promotion-the-guerilla-edition-e25f4e898521

This is a blog post by a speaker at the 33rd Anniversary of the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion followed by an interesting postscript commenting on what is in the Charter.

Segall, A. and Fries, C. (2017). Pursuing Health and Wellness: Healthy Societies, Healthy People (2nd ed.). Toronto: Oxford University Press.

This book explores the structural and behavioral factors that affect health and wellness over the life course using a sociological approach. It uses strong theoretical frameworks such as “intersectional” theory as well as current and historical examples.

Relevant Websites and Organizations

Quality of Life Research Unit


The Quality-of-Life Research Unit is located in the Department of Occupation Science and Occupational Therapy. Since its establishment in 1991, it has done research and developed tools and initiatives in relation to various topics having to do with Quality of Life in relation to different population groups including: children; adolescents, families, people with developmental disabilities, communities, people with disabilities, and seniors.

Relevant Listservs



Click4HP is a listserv that was established by the Ontario Health Promotion Clearinghouse in 1996 and is operated by York University. It has an archive of discussions that have taken place since it was established on a wide range of health promotion topics, including the concept of health.



SDOH is a listserv that discusses issues related to the social determinants of health. Located at York University and moderated by Professor Dennis Raphael, SHOH is very active and committed to action related to the social determinants of health. Archives go back to January 2004.

Relevant Videos

TED. (2012, January 4). Jane Fonda: Life’s third act. YouTube. (11 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHyR7p6_hn0

Actress Jane Fonda shares her perspective on what she and researchers now call “The Third Act.” She offers a new metaphor for aging—a staircase. The human spirit evolves upward as though climbing a staircase.

TED. (2014, September 3). Isabel Allende: How to live passionately—no matter your age. YouTube. (18 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=6andv=5ifMRNag2XU

Author Isabel Allende shares her perspective on aging positively and passionately no matter your age. Her humour and honesty are engaging, and her message is timeless.

TED. (2018, April 13). A rite of passage for later life | Bob Stein. YouTube. (6 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QTjSH1KGlYandt=2s

Most older adults begin to downsize—clearing out closets and getting rid of things before death, what the Swedes call the “death cleaning” process. In this meditative talk about looking both backward and forward, Bob Stein proposes a new tradition of giving away your things (and sharing the stories behind them) as you get older, to reflect on your life so far and open the door to whatever comes next.

Theories and Models in Health Promotion with Older Adults

(Chapter 3 by Lucie Richard and Johanne Filiatrault)

Relevant Readings

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman.

This book is about self-efficacy, a central concept of Bandura’s social cognitive theory. It covers both theoretical and empirical perspectives. Developmental issues and their relevance in various domains of human life are also addressed.

Bengtson, V. L., and Settersten, R. A., Jr. (Eds.) (2016). Handbook of theories of aging (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

This comprehensive textbook presents models and theories of aging covering four disciplinary areas—biology, psychology, social sciences, policy and practice—as well as trans-disciplinary sciences.

DiClemente, R. J., Crosby, R. A., and Kegler, M. C. (Eds.). (2009). Emerging theories in health promotion practice and research (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

This comprehensive textbook of major models and theories used in health promotion covers individual-level, community-based, and ecological approaches.

DiClemente, R. J., Salazar, L. F., and Crosby, R. A. (2018). Health behavior theory for public health: Principles, foundations, and applications (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.

This book presents a wide selection of conceptual and theoretical perspectives for health behaviour change research and practice. It also covers topics related to evaluation and knowledge transfer.

Glanz, K., Rimer, B. K., and Viswanath, K. (Eds.) (2015). Health behavior: Theory, research, and practice (5th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

This is a comprehensive textbook of major theories of health behaviour covering models of individual and interpersonal health behavior, as well as community and group models of health behaviour change. Issues related to the use of theory in research and practice are covered.

Green, L. W., and Kreuter, M. W. (2005). Health program planning: An educational and ecological approach (4th ed.). Montreal, QC: McGraw-Hill.

Developed by Lawrence W. Green, PRECEDE-PROCEED is a multi-step planning model that can help health practitioners design comprehensive, ecological health promotion programs. It has been widely used in a large variety of application areas and countries.

Haber, D. (2020). Health promotion and aging: Practical applications for health professionals. (8th ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

This practical guide is intended for practitioners, managers, and decision-makers working with older adults. It covers a large array of issues related to healthy aging (e.g., clinical preventive services, sexual health, long-term care alternatives, etc.) within an American context.

Kelly, J. G. (2006). Becoming ecological: An expedition into community psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

This book presents a collection of landmark papers by J. G. Kelly, a founder of community psychology. The ecological perspective in community psychology has inspired research and action in many fields and disciplines, including health promotion and public health.

Naidoo, J., and Wills, J. (2016). Foundations for health promotion. (4th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.

This book is a comprehensive, general introduction to health promotion. It comprises four parts: theory, strategies and methods, settings, and implementation. It is intended for students, as well as for professionals in the health, social, and education sectors.

Richard, L., Cargo, M., and Lévesque, L. (2015). An ecological analysis procedure to assess health promotion programs: An instruction manual. EValorix. https://evalorix.com/boutique/produits-et-outils-en-sante/an-ecological-analysis-procedure-to-assess-health-promotion-programs-an-instruction-manual-2/

This methodological guide outlines a model of the ecological approach. It also presents a grid and coding instructions for assessing the ecological dimension of programs.

Rootman, I., Pederson, A., Frohlich, K. L., and Dupéré, S. (Eds.) (2017). Health promotion in Canada: New perspectives on theory, practice, policy, and research. (4th ed.). Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars.

This book offers a comprehensive review of health promotion from a Canadian perspective. It includes contributions from prominent academics, researchers, and practitioners encompassing a variety of perspectives (theory, practice, policy, and research) and topics (mental health, ecological change, indigenous health, etc.). An emphasis is placed on innovation and critical analysis.

Relevant Websites and Organizations

Public Health Ontario (PHO): Health Promotion—Online Learning


PHO offers health promotion courses and presentations covering health promotion foundations, health equity and health promotion capacity building. Learn everything from definitions and concepts to practical tips on how to use health equity impact assessment tools.

Rural Health Information Hub: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Theories and Models


This website describes selected theories and models that are used for health promotion and disease prevention programs, as well as models of implementation and evaluation. It was prepared by the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis in 2018.

Relevant Video

Let’s Learn Public Health. (2017, March 4). An Introduction to Health Promotion and the Ottawa Charter. YouTube. (6 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2quVLcJVBk

This video takes a brief look at health promotion and key concepts and the Ottawa Charter—a landmark document that has been influential in providing guidance to the goals and concepts of health promotion.


(Personal Reflection 1 by Lillian Zimmerman)

Relevant Readings

American Psychological Association (2021). Ageism and COVID-19. https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/research-ageism

While older adults are greatly affected by COVID-19, older adults are also diverse and thus affected differently. Ageism assumes all older adults are affected in the same way by COVID-19. Ageism paints all older adults as vulnerable and burdensome. These stereotypes must be overcome by society because they impact who gets care and resources. Read this article to learn more.

Ayalon, L. and Tesch-Römer, C. (2017). Taking a closer look at ageism: self- and other-directed ageist attitudes and discrimination. European Journal of Ageing 14:1–4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10433-016-0409-9

This editorial discusses: ageism at the individual and social level, two types of discrimination that are distinguishable yet correlated; urges the study of antecedents and consequences of ageism; and raises concerns about the effectiveness and efficiency of interventions against ageism.

Burnes, D., Sheppard, C., Henderson, C. et al. (2019). Interventions to Reduce Ageism Against Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Public Health 109, e1_e9, https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2019.305123

Ageism has well-established negative effects on the physical and mental health of older people. This paper assesses the relative effects of three intervention types designed to reduce ageism among youths and adults—education, intergenerational contact, and combined education and intergenerational contact—by conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis. Findings suggest that relatively low-cost, feasible strategies involving education and intergenerational contact can serve as the basis of effective interventions to reduce ageism.

Centre for Ageing Better (UK) (2020). Doddery but dear? Examining age-related stereotypes. https://www.ageing-better.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-03/Doddery-but-dear.pdf

This paper is based on what existing research tells us about the role and impact of language and stereotypes in framing old age and aging in the UK. It examines stereotyping and ageist language, images, and behaviour.

Centre for Ageing Better (UK) (2020). An old age problem? How society shapes and reinforces negative attitudes to ageing. https://www.ageing-better.org.uk/publications/old-age-problem-how-society-shapes-and-reinforces-negative-attitudes-ageing

This report looks at the language used by government, the media and social media, advertising, and aging-focused charities in relation to the topics of age, aging and demographic change.

Cherry, K. (2020). How Does Ageism Impact More Than Just Older Adults? Verywellmind, https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-ageism-2794817

This article discusses ageism and how to combat it.

Fraser, S., Lagacé, M., Bongué, B. et al (2020). Ageism and COVID-19: what does our society’s response say about us? Age and Ageing 49(5), 692–695. https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afaa097

This commentary discusses how ageism that has emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic and how older people are misrepresented and undervalued in the public discourse surrounding the pandemic. It points to issues in documenting the deaths of older adults, the lack of preparation for such a crisis in long-term care homes, how some “protective” policies can be considered patronizing, and how the initial perception of the public was that the virus was really an older adult problem. This commentary also calls attention to important intergenerational solidarity that has occurred during this crisis to ensure support and social inclusion of older adults, even at a distance.

International Longevity Centre (ILC) Canada (2021). Thematic Report on Ageism and Age Discrimination by the United Nations Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights of Older Persons For the 48th Human Rights Council. https://www.ilccanada.org/images/FINAL_Report_to_the_Un_Independing_Expert_on_Ageism__April_13th.pdf

ILC Canada responds to the questions posed by the United Nations Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights of Older Persons in a comprehensive report on ageism in Canada.

Krygsman, H. K., Washenko J, et al. (2018). Ageism and the older worker: A scoping review. The Gerontologist 58(2), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnw194

This systematic review examines the body of research on ageism and its implications for the employment experiences and opportunities of older workers. The review found that stereotypes and perceptions, both negative and positive, impacted the working lives of older adults significantly.

Levy, B. R., Chung, P. H., Bedford, T, Navrazhina, K. (2014). Facebook as a site for negative age stereotypes. Gerontologist 54(2),172–6. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gns194

In this article, the authors explore ageism in a content analysis of each publicly accessible Facebook group that concentrated on older individuals. Consistent with their hypothesis, the descriptions of all but one of these groups focused on negative age stereotypes; 74% excoriated older individuals, 27% infantilized them, and 37% advocated banning them from public activities, such as shopping. Facebook has the potential to break down barriers between generations; in practice, it may have erected new ones.

Meisner, B. A. (2020). Are You OK, Boomer? Intensification of Ageism and Intergenerational Tensions on Social Media Amid COVID-19. Leisure Sciences 43, 56–61. https://doi.org/10.1080/01490400.2020.1773983

This commentary draws on social media trending topics (e.g., “OK, Boomer,” “Boomer Remover”) to demonstrate how generalizations regarding chronological age and COVID-19 age-related biomedical risks have: (a) exacerbated ageism on social media, and (b) further exposed ongoing tensions between so-called “Millennial” and “Baby Boomer” generations in ways that are targeted against the older generation and serve in favour of younger ones.

Revera, Sheridan Centre for Elder Abuse (n.d.). Revera Report on Ageism: Independence and Choice as We Age. https://reveraliving.com/en/think-with-us/reports-on-aging

This report identifies, quantifies, and explores this vital issue, and concludes with recommendations for individuals, policymakers, and organizations to improve the lives of older Canadians.

World Health Organization (2021). Global Report on Ageism. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240016866

This report outlines a framework for action to reduce ageism including specific recommendations for different actors (e.g., government, UN agencies, civil society organizations, private sector). It brings together the best available evidence on the nature and magnitude of ageism, its determinants, and its impact. It outlines what strategies work to prevent and counter ageism, identifies gaps, and proposes future lines of research to improve our understanding of ageism.

Zimmerman, L. (2016). Did you just call me old lady? A 90-year-old tells why aging is positive. Black Point, NS: Fernwood Books.

This book provides an upbeat look at aging and the impacts of Canada’s increasingly aged population through the eyes of 90-year-old Lillian Zimmerman, a prominent educator, writer, and researcher in gerontology, and the author of Personal Perspective I in this book. Zimmerman argues with grace and humour that older citizens are not a burden on society but can live fulfilling lives and make valuable contributions to society. This is one of the first Canadian books to look at ageism (discrimination and stereotyping based on one’s age) from the perspective of someone who experiences it in their daily life. Zimmerman shows how ageism is prevalent in society, media, and popular culture.

Relevant Websites and Organizations

AARP Ageists Away! We’re Here, Dear, Get Used to It!


This website subtitled “From age-shaming to the apparent pilfer-profiling of seniors at CVS—we’re calling you out!” provides images of ageist stereotypes in popular culture.

AARP Disrupt Aging


Disrupt Aging is a place to have a new conversation—often funny, sometimes raw, always honest—about how we want to live and age. Disrupt Aging celebrates all those who own their age and holds a mirror up to ageist beliefs. The website contains stories, videos, and more.



This site profiles cases, news articles, research, and commentaries about age discrimination around the world. It includes a summary of age discrimination law in Canada.



This website is the home of the #AgeingEqual campaign—the first European-wide effort to raise awareness that human rights do not diminish with age. It calls for equal rights at all ages and raises awareness of the harmful consequences of ageism. The website contains a host of useful resources, articles, and facts about ageism.

World Health Organization, Global Campaign to Combat Ageism


In response to a call from Member States, WHO is leading and working with other stakeholders on a Global Campaign to Combat Ageism that aims to build a world for all ages by changing the way we think, feel, and act towards age and aging. Campaign materials include quick facts, related scientific publications, and aging attitudes quizzes.

Relevant Videos

Applewhite, Ashton. (2017). Let’s End Ageism. TED. (11 minutes). https://www.ted.com/talks/ashton_applewhite_let_s_end_ageism

Ageism is a prejudice that pits us against our future selves—and each other. Ashton Applewhite urges us to dismantle the dread and mobilize against the last socially acceptable prejudice. “Aging is not a problem to be fixed or a disease to be cured,” she says. “It is a natural, powerful, lifelong process that unites us all.”

Česká společnost pro gerontologii, z. s. (2021) Summary Slides: Global Report on Ageism. YouTube. (2 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQ3glou_d5c

This video provides the summary slides of the WHO Global Report on Ageism.

Honoré, Carl. (2019). Why We Should Embrace Aging as an Adventure. TED. (12 minutes). https://www.ted.com/talks/carl_honore_why_we_should_embrace_aging_as_an_adventure#t-750201

We need to feel better about aging in order to age better, says writer and activist Carl Honoré. In this spirited talk, Honoré offers a set of simple solutions to combat ageism—as well as a host of trailblazers and changemakers who came into their own later in life, from artists and musicians to physicists and business leaders.

Jenkins, Jo Ann. (2020). Disrupt Aging and Embrace Growing Older. AARP. (9 minutes). https://videos.aarp.org/detail/video/4832148244001/jo-ann-jenkins:-disrupt-aging-and-embrace-growing-older---aarp

AARP CEO and Disrupt Aging author Jo Ann Jenkins challenges people to change the conversation about aging and embrace what it means to grow older during her recent appearance on the Dr. Phil show.

Millennials Show Us What Old Looks Like. (2020). AARP. (4 minutes). https://www.aarp.org/disrupt-aging/stories/ideas/info-2016/what-is-old-video.html?intcmp=AE-DA-STR-R4-C4

What age do you consider to be old? We posed that question to millennials and asked them to show us what “old” looks like. Then we introduced them to some real “old” people. Watch what happens when folks let go of their outdated beliefs and embrace the idea that aging is not about decline—it’s about growth.

World Health Organization. (2021, March 18). Launch of the @UN global report on ageism. YouTube. (1 hour, 16 minutes). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fKD7aHFpZw

This virtual event launched the first UN Global report on ageism, developed by WHO, OHCHR, UNDESA, and UNFPA. The event, which features the voice of both the young and the old highlighted what we know about ageism, why it matters, and how we can tackle it. It kicked off a global conversation that concerns us all and in which we all should have our say.