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This is what some Canadian celebrities and politicians look like when their faces have been aged up with Snapchat and Photoshop.Photo illustration by The Globe and Mail

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From the Comments is designed to highlight interesting and thoughtful contributions from our readers. Some comments have been edited for clarity. Everyone can read the comments but only subscribers will be able to contribute. Thank you to everyone furthering debate across our site.

Readers respond: Older, longer: The super-aging of Canadians has taken everyone by surprise

A surprise? Only if you have no idea of the deterioration in the lives of great swathes of the working class – the majority of the population.

Decades of stagnant wages, the explosion in the cost of housing, food and other basics. The steep rise in user fees for public education, health care, etc. Hyperexpensive child care. The lack of secure, decent-paying jobs. Lack of time for the many who must commute long distances to and from work. A housing industry dedicated to building tiny units completely unsuitable for raising children. Can anyone design a society less amenable to raising a family?

All are by-products of a decades-long assault on the wages, working conditions and the public services required to meet the needs of ordinary people. Of allowing the cost of shelter to be determined by speculation and the rapacious greed of housing and banking capitalists. All of it in order to defend the profit needs of the billionaires.

What is a surprise is that they have gotten away with it with relatively little resistance. One look around the world today suggests that things are changing on that score. –7Miker7

The other side of that coin is unreasonable expectations thanks to the mass media. I come from a family with three children, and my father made pretty good money. But we had only one bathroom until I was 12, and even then, the second facility was a powder room. My brother and I shared a bedroom until we were 15 and 16, and we had only one car. We almost never ate out. Holidays were generally road trips to stay with relatives; I didn’t go south in the winter until I was a grown man.

We were solidly middle class, and our neighbours all lived pretty much the same way. My dad wasn’t cheap, but he knew the value of a dollar and the importance of saving.

It seems families today must have a minimum of three bathrooms, two weeks in the sun every February, two late-model cars and a weekly restaurant meal. No wonder they can’t afford to have children, let alone save for retirement. Advertising has created unrealistic expectations and a debt-centric culture. –WhistlingInTheDark

We have seen this heading toward us like a slow-moving glacier, and our failure to prepare is nothing less than a collective social failure. Had we introduced long-term care insurance 25 years ago – a pretty good idea – perhaps the situation would be less acute. And today, governments are spending like drunken sailors without addressing this issue sufficiently. The future will not be pretty. And it’s entirely our fault. –Kidster

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I’m retired at 61 with a six-figure income, but my brother, five years younger than me, is likely working to age 70. That’s the difference between saving and not saving in those 40 or so years of working life between 20 and 60. If you’re not saving, you pay up with additional end-of-life working years later on.

Having economic freedom is remarkably de-stressing as well. Very underrated. Having said that, lots of people like their jobs or like having something to do in those later years. They work for fun. For myself, I’m not bored because I’m constantly out hiking, backpacking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, biking, running and have lots of charity work. I value the freedom to schedule my own time in these non-working years. –Cow4

Which brings into question how generations throw away their wealth on showing off wealth. That money spent on that $80,000 car could go a long way in retirement when properly invested earlier. –Abstraction Layer

As a retired retail business owner, I can attest to the work ethic of boomers. I was happy to employ multiple people over 70. They showed up for work, didn’t complain about their health problems in the presence of the customers. They never looked at their phones while they were at work. And they took fewer sick days than their younger co-workers.

One was retired from another job. He knew that he needed a reason to get up in the morning, so he continued to work. Another had a retired husband at home. She felt it was healthier for their marriage to continue to work. Also, I offered medical benefits that exceeded what these people could access from the province.

I think it is simplistic to think that people actually retire from the workplace when they leave their principal job. Many will seek service jobs that give them that crucial human contact and some spending money. We will see the aging of fast-food staff, filling the gap created by the lack of millennials to fill these posts. Those work places that recognize they can make accommodations to attract retirees will have a competitive advantage. –EastCoastFish

I am a boomer and still supporting a university-age child and helping look after 90-year-old parents. It is not just Gen X in this situation. I can assure you that most of the frail elderly are not boomers. We will get there if we live that long. We grew up with more plastics and chemicals in our food than our parents did. It will be interesting to see how that turns out. –Sceptical1

Boomers have also eaten a lot more fast food than previous generations, and have quaffed down a lot more booze. Many also live sedentary lives, whereas previous generations did a lot of physical labour. The assumptions about increasing life expectancy that are the focus of this article may not turn out to be true. –Louisbourger

It’s a cycle. Every time there’s been a baby boom, there’s been an aging boom down the road. Also keep in mind that as a baby boom dies off, a lot of wealth is passed down to children. So an aging population is not simply a burden – it can also be a boon.

Take an extreme example: In some parts of Europe, the bubonic plague killed as much as half the population. But if you survived, you were in an envious position. Your labour was highly sought after and you may have inherited a great deal of wealth.

Let the cycle play out naturally the way Japan is doing. This article hasn’t even mentioned the coming boom in automation. –pioneer27

I’m going to bet that a reasonable number of aging boomers who are in the early stages of dementia, or facing debilitating diseases or physical deterioration, would be more than happy to be able to take advantage of an advance directive for assisted death, would we have such a thing. I know I would. I understand the need for safeguards to protect at-risk individuals from being coerced into making the choice, but those of us who are comfortable doing so should be able to. Time for the government to take a second look at the legislation and get it right this time around, leaving me with the choice to decide my own future, whatever that might be. –Shango the Wonder Dog

Given the environmental impact of humans, sub-replacement birth rate is a good trend. The advanced economies are leading the way. When will the developing nations catch on? In the future, this could be a world of desperate shortage for 10 billion people, or it could be a paradise for one billion. We have a choice.

The central problem is that the world is dominated by an economic system that works only with expanding demand. Obviously, it’s out of date and needs to change. Even now there are still enough resources for everyone’s need, but no longer can we accommodate anyone’s greed.

The challenges we face are not insurmountable. Let’s engage imagination and innovation, not fear and resentment. –independentlypoor

In addition to living longer, seniors keep their mental and physical abilities longer, and most continue to be productive. This extended productivity will offset a fair bit of the burden old age places on society. Canada needs programs taking advantage of these skills to mitigate the extra costs. –Barmon duMonet

Stephen Harper did propose increasing the age to receive OAS to 67. Justin Trudeau seemed to have campaigned against it just for electoral success. He should have left it at 67. (And I speak as a person who would have had to wait those two extra years.) –AD65

So as a millennial, I get the pleasure of paying the highest housing costs relative to income in Canadian history, plus we have to support an ever-aging society while barely getting to start a family of our own, if we’re lucky.

I’m not pointing fingers at anyone – just the way things played out. –Derek0291

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