FOCUS ON SENIORS: Creating an age-friendly community

Opinion Jan 24, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

What is an age-friendly community?

It is a place that enables people of all ages to actively participate in community activities.

It is a place that treats everyone with respect, regardless of their age.

It is a place that makes it easy to stay connected to those around you and those you love.

It is a place that helps people stay healthy and active even at the oldest ages.

And it is a place that helps those who can no longer look after themselves to live with dignity and enjoyment. Many cities and communities are already taking active steps toward becoming more age-friendly.

Our world is made up of communities designed by young people, for young people. At one time this was easily understood and made perfect sense.

After all, the median age was younger and life expectancy was shorter. In the year 1900, the average lifespan for a male was 47 years of age. Today that number could be easily doubled.

New understanding suggests that designing with young people in mind, in many cases, actually excludes older people. The concept of universal design, started in the 1950s, has evolved from the early considerations for people with disabilities to the broader view of creating products with minimum restrictions in their accessibility and use. Universal design works well for all ages.

The Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) wants to see the City of Brantford and the County of Brant become “age-friendly.” Indeed, this is a top priority for the Council on Aging. The GRCOA mission statement was recently amended to read: “To provide a voice for seniors that will have influence and impact on planning for an age-friendly community”.

GRCOA is in good company. The World Health Organization, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Ontario Senior Secretariat and many, many organizations around the world are considering the changing demographics and the impact on communities and people.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Age-Friendly Cities program includes some of the world’s leading cities, which are striving to create “age-friendly urban environments.” The WHO Guide describes the eight key features of an age-friendly community.

The key features are:

• Outdoor spaces and public buildings that are pleasant, clean, secure and physically accessible.

• Public transportation that is accessible and affordable.

• Housing that is affordable, appropriately located, well-built, well-designed and secure.

• Opportunities for seniors to participate in leisure, social, cultural and spiritual activities with people of all ages and cultures.

• Older people are treated with respect and are included in civic life.

• Opportunities for employment and volunteerism that cater to older persons’ interests and abilities.

• Age-friendly communication and information is available.

• Community support and health tailored to older persons’ needs.

The Public Health Agency of Canada states that “in an age-friendly community, the policies, services and structures related to the physical and social environment are designed to help seniors “age actively.” In other words, the community is set up to help seniors live safely, enjoy good health and stay involved.

An age-friendly community recognizes that seniors have a wide range of skills and abilities. It understands and meets the age-related needs of seniors and respects the decisions and lifestyle choices they make.

Age-friendly communities protect those seniors who are vulnerable, recognize that seniors have a lot to offer their community and recognize how important it is to include seniors in all areas of community life.

The Ontario Senior Secretariat says “it’s no secret that the population is aging and each of us hopes that our aging experience is a positive one. Successful, healthy and active aging requires a combination of personal and environmental factors that work together to support the best possible experience.”

Just as we need age-friendly design and age-friendly urban environments, we also need age-friendly medical services for patients, age-friendly workplaces for employees and age-friendly businesses for consumers.

Curbs level with sidewalks to facilitate egress for moms with strollers and seniors in wheelchairs, traffic lights with flashing timers to demonstrate the amount of time for pedestrians to effect a safe crossing, audible signals at crossings to assist those with vision difficulties, benches and chairs arranged through the common area of a mall creating rest stops, using larger- sized fonts for publications, improved signage with clear language and pictograms would all be examples of what forms an age-friendly community.

Becoming an age-friendly community is a process and it takes time. Let’s take the time to make it happen in Brantford and Brant.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: Creating an age-friendly community

What can be done to address the needs of an aging population

Opinion Jan 24, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

What is an age-friendly community?

It is a place that enables people of all ages to actively participate in community activities.

It is a place that treats everyone with respect, regardless of their age.

It is a place that makes it easy to stay connected to those around you and those you love.

It is a place that helps people stay healthy and active even at the oldest ages.

And it is a place that helps those who can no longer look after themselves to live with dignity and enjoyment. Many cities and communities are already taking active steps toward becoming more age-friendly.

Our world is made up of communities designed by young people, for young people. At one time this was easily understood and made perfect sense.

After all, the median age was younger and life expectancy was shorter. In the year 1900, the average lifespan for a male was 47 years of age. Today that number could be easily doubled.

New understanding suggests that designing with young people in mind, in many cases, actually excludes older people. The concept of universal design, started in the 1950s, has evolved from the early considerations for people with disabilities to the broader view of creating products with minimum restrictions in their accessibility and use. Universal design works well for all ages.

The Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) wants to see the City of Brantford and the County of Brant become “age-friendly.” Indeed, this is a top priority for the Council on Aging. The GRCOA mission statement was recently amended to read: “To provide a voice for seniors that will have influence and impact on planning for an age-friendly community”.

GRCOA is in good company. The World Health Organization, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Ontario Senior Secretariat and many, many organizations around the world are considering the changing demographics and the impact on communities and people.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Age-Friendly Cities program includes some of the world’s leading cities, which are striving to create “age-friendly urban environments.” The WHO Guide describes the eight key features of an age-friendly community.

The key features are:

• Outdoor spaces and public buildings that are pleasant, clean, secure and physically accessible.

• Public transportation that is accessible and affordable.

• Housing that is affordable, appropriately located, well-built, well-designed and secure.

• Opportunities for seniors to participate in leisure, social, cultural and spiritual activities with people of all ages and cultures.

• Older people are treated with respect and are included in civic life.

• Opportunities for employment and volunteerism that cater to older persons’ interests and abilities.

• Age-friendly communication and information is available.

• Community support and health tailored to older persons’ needs.

The Public Health Agency of Canada states that “in an age-friendly community, the policies, services and structures related to the physical and social environment are designed to help seniors “age actively.” In other words, the community is set up to help seniors live safely, enjoy good health and stay involved.

An age-friendly community recognizes that seniors have a wide range of skills and abilities. It understands and meets the age-related needs of seniors and respects the decisions and lifestyle choices they make.

Age-friendly communities protect those seniors who are vulnerable, recognize that seniors have a lot to offer their community and recognize how important it is to include seniors in all areas of community life.

The Ontario Senior Secretariat says “it’s no secret that the population is aging and each of us hopes that our aging experience is a positive one. Successful, healthy and active aging requires a combination of personal and environmental factors that work together to support the best possible experience.”

Just as we need age-friendly design and age-friendly urban environments, we also need age-friendly medical services for patients, age-friendly workplaces for employees and age-friendly businesses for consumers.

Curbs level with sidewalks to facilitate egress for moms with strollers and seniors in wheelchairs, traffic lights with flashing timers to demonstrate the amount of time for pedestrians to effect a safe crossing, audible signals at crossings to assist those with vision difficulties, benches and chairs arranged through the common area of a mall creating rest stops, using larger- sized fonts for publications, improved signage with clear language and pictograms would all be examples of what forms an age-friendly community.

Becoming an age-friendly community is a process and it takes time. Let’s take the time to make it happen in Brantford and Brant.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: Creating an age-friendly community

What can be done to address the needs of an aging population

Opinion Jan 24, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

What is an age-friendly community?

It is a place that enables people of all ages to actively participate in community activities.

It is a place that treats everyone with respect, regardless of their age.

It is a place that makes it easy to stay connected to those around you and those you love.

It is a place that helps people stay healthy and active even at the oldest ages.

And it is a place that helps those who can no longer look after themselves to live with dignity and enjoyment. Many cities and communities are already taking active steps toward becoming more age-friendly.

Our world is made up of communities designed by young people, for young people. At one time this was easily understood and made perfect sense.

After all, the median age was younger and life expectancy was shorter. In the year 1900, the average lifespan for a male was 47 years of age. Today that number could be easily doubled.

New understanding suggests that designing with young people in mind, in many cases, actually excludes older people. The concept of universal design, started in the 1950s, has evolved from the early considerations for people with disabilities to the broader view of creating products with minimum restrictions in their accessibility and use. Universal design works well for all ages.

The Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) wants to see the City of Brantford and the County of Brant become “age-friendly.” Indeed, this is a top priority for the Council on Aging. The GRCOA mission statement was recently amended to read: “To provide a voice for seniors that will have influence and impact on planning for an age-friendly community”.

GRCOA is in good company. The World Health Organization, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Ontario Senior Secretariat and many, many organizations around the world are considering the changing demographics and the impact on communities and people.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Age-Friendly Cities program includes some of the world’s leading cities, which are striving to create “age-friendly urban environments.” The WHO Guide describes the eight key features of an age-friendly community.

The key features are:

• Outdoor spaces and public buildings that are pleasant, clean, secure and physically accessible.

• Public transportation that is accessible and affordable.

• Housing that is affordable, appropriately located, well-built, well-designed and secure.

• Opportunities for seniors to participate in leisure, social, cultural and spiritual activities with people of all ages and cultures.

• Older people are treated with respect and are included in civic life.

• Opportunities for employment and volunteerism that cater to older persons’ interests and abilities.

• Age-friendly communication and information is available.

• Community support and health tailored to older persons’ needs.

The Public Health Agency of Canada states that “in an age-friendly community, the policies, services and structures related to the physical and social environment are designed to help seniors “age actively.” In other words, the community is set up to help seniors live safely, enjoy good health and stay involved.

An age-friendly community recognizes that seniors have a wide range of skills and abilities. It understands and meets the age-related needs of seniors and respects the decisions and lifestyle choices they make.

Age-friendly communities protect those seniors who are vulnerable, recognize that seniors have a lot to offer their community and recognize how important it is to include seniors in all areas of community life.

The Ontario Senior Secretariat says “it’s no secret that the population is aging and each of us hopes that our aging experience is a positive one. Successful, healthy and active aging requires a combination of personal and environmental factors that work together to support the best possible experience.”

Just as we need age-friendly design and age-friendly urban environments, we also need age-friendly medical services for patients, age-friendly workplaces for employees and age-friendly businesses for consumers.

Curbs level with sidewalks to facilitate egress for moms with strollers and seniors in wheelchairs, traffic lights with flashing timers to demonstrate the amount of time for pedestrians to effect a safe crossing, audible signals at crossings to assist those with vision difficulties, benches and chairs arranged through the common area of a mall creating rest stops, using larger- sized fonts for publications, improved signage with clear language and pictograms would all be examples of what forms an age-friendly community.

Becoming an age-friendly community is a process and it takes time. Let’s take the time to make it happen in Brantford and Brant.