FOCUS ON SENIORS: For many of today’s seniors, getting older is getting better

Opinion Jul 08, 2016 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

There are many misconceptions, attitudes and assumptions about growing older. In order to create an age-friendly community we must combat these, beginning with the recognition that not all older people are dependent, frail or out of touch.

There is no typical older person and no single definition for a senior. There is great diversity of older adults, ranging from the robust to care-dependent and those in between.

The physical and social environments in which people live are powerful influences on how they age. Advantages and disadvantages contribute to increased capacity. Financial resources play a part as well. Older people with the greatest health-related needs often have the least economic and social resources to meet them.

Only a small number of older adults are dependent on others for their care. Many more continue to make valuable contributions to their families and communities.

In 2011, researchers in the U.K. and Ireland found that the contributions older people made through taxation, consumer spending and other economically valuable activities were worth significantly more than the total expenditure on them through pensions, welfare and health care.

Less evidence is available from low- and middle-income countries, but the contributions are still significant. In Kenya, the average age of small farmers is 60, making seniors critical for ensuring food security.

Good health in older age is not just the absence of disease. While older adults may have a number of health conditions, they still continue to be able to do the things that are important to them. Living active and fulfilled lives can be a better predictor of health and well-being than the presence of an illness.

In an age-friendly community, integrated services that focus on improving this quality of life may prove less expensive than services that focus on a specific disease.

Families will always play a central role in providing care to older adults, but they can’t do it alone. Long-term care should be shared between families, governments and other sectors with caregivers receiving adequate training and support. This partnership could ensure access to quality health care and avoid financial hardships for both older people and their caregivers.

Spending money on the older population is an investment, not a cost. Such an investment can yield significant dividends in the health and well-being of older people through their increased participation and expenditure. Communities that look for ways to enhance the abilities of seniors to do the things they value will reap huge dividends.

Contrary to popular thought, healthy aging is not all about genes. The cumulative impact of how we choose to live our lives shapes behaviours across the life course.

Opportunities and barriers are strongly influenced by sex, ethnicity, occupation, level of education and wealth. Communities that adapt age-friendly policies can address behaviours through increased education and a focus on healthy choices.

An enforced mandatory retirement age reinforces ageism. Age has not been found to be a reliable indicator for judging workers’ potential productivity or employability.

Many people don’t want to retire at age 65 – either from a desire to continue to contribute or from necessity. By eliminating mandatory retirement ages, society has increased older workers’ ability to contribute.

Furthermore, companies continue to benefit from the capabilities and knowledge from years spent on the job.

Through the partnership between Brant MPP Dave Levac and the Grand River Council on Aging, older people and seniors have been afforded the opportunity to participate in the Age-Friendly Community Summit. To date, six gatherings have taken place and the numbers of registrants continues to grow each time. More and more seniors are speaking up and their insights gained through a lifetime will be of significant value and benefit to our communities.

An interim report has been written following each gathering and was circulated to all participants. For those wishing to read the reports, go to www.grcoa.ca and click on ‘Age-Friendly Planning.’  

The next gathering is scheduled for Aug. 19 and will take place at the Brant Sports Complex from 9 a.m. to noon.  The focus of this gathering will be “respect and social inclusion.”

A final report is scheduled to be completed by April 2017.

This work is important. The conclusions and recommendations will be of tremendous benefit to all three levels of government as they continue to incorporate an age-friendly focus in planning.

Working together, we can combat ageism through recognition and acceptance of seniors for their intrinsic and unique value.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: For many of today’s seniors, getting older is getting better

Opinion Jul 08, 2016 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

There are many misconceptions, attitudes and assumptions about growing older. In order to create an age-friendly community we must combat these, beginning with the recognition that not all older people are dependent, frail or out of touch.

There is no typical older person and no single definition for a senior. There is great diversity of older adults, ranging from the robust to care-dependent and those in between.

The physical and social environments in which people live are powerful influences on how they age. Advantages and disadvantages contribute to increased capacity. Financial resources play a part as well. Older people with the greatest health-related needs often have the least economic and social resources to meet them.

Only a small number of older adults are dependent on others for their care. Many more continue to make valuable contributions to their families and communities.

In 2011, researchers in the U.K. and Ireland found that the contributions older people made through taxation, consumer spending and other economically valuable activities were worth significantly more than the total expenditure on them through pensions, welfare and health care.

Less evidence is available from low- and middle-income countries, but the contributions are still significant. In Kenya, the average age of small farmers is 60, making seniors critical for ensuring food security.

Good health in older age is not just the absence of disease. While older adults may have a number of health conditions, they still continue to be able to do the things that are important to them. Living active and fulfilled lives can be a better predictor of health and well-being than the presence of an illness.

In an age-friendly community, integrated services that focus on improving this quality of life may prove less expensive than services that focus on a specific disease.

Families will always play a central role in providing care to older adults, but they can’t do it alone. Long-term care should be shared between families, governments and other sectors with caregivers receiving adequate training and support. This partnership could ensure access to quality health care and avoid financial hardships for both older people and their caregivers.

Spending money on the older population is an investment, not a cost. Such an investment can yield significant dividends in the health and well-being of older people through their increased participation and expenditure. Communities that look for ways to enhance the abilities of seniors to do the things they value will reap huge dividends.

Contrary to popular thought, healthy aging is not all about genes. The cumulative impact of how we choose to live our lives shapes behaviours across the life course.

Opportunities and barriers are strongly influenced by sex, ethnicity, occupation, level of education and wealth. Communities that adapt age-friendly policies can address behaviours through increased education and a focus on healthy choices.

An enforced mandatory retirement age reinforces ageism. Age has not been found to be a reliable indicator for judging workers’ potential productivity or employability.

Many people don’t want to retire at age 65 – either from a desire to continue to contribute or from necessity. By eliminating mandatory retirement ages, society has increased older workers’ ability to contribute.

Furthermore, companies continue to benefit from the capabilities and knowledge from years spent on the job.

Through the partnership between Brant MPP Dave Levac and the Grand River Council on Aging, older people and seniors have been afforded the opportunity to participate in the Age-Friendly Community Summit. To date, six gatherings have taken place and the numbers of registrants continues to grow each time. More and more seniors are speaking up and their insights gained through a lifetime will be of significant value and benefit to our communities.

An interim report has been written following each gathering and was circulated to all participants. For those wishing to read the reports, go to www.grcoa.ca and click on ‘Age-Friendly Planning.’  

The next gathering is scheduled for Aug. 19 and will take place at the Brant Sports Complex from 9 a.m. to noon.  The focus of this gathering will be “respect and social inclusion.”

A final report is scheduled to be completed by April 2017.

This work is important. The conclusions and recommendations will be of tremendous benefit to all three levels of government as they continue to incorporate an age-friendly focus in planning.

Working together, we can combat ageism through recognition and acceptance of seniors for their intrinsic and unique value.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: For many of today’s seniors, getting older is getting better

Opinion Jul 08, 2016 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

There are many misconceptions, attitudes and assumptions about growing older. In order to create an age-friendly community we must combat these, beginning with the recognition that not all older people are dependent, frail or out of touch.

There is no typical older person and no single definition for a senior. There is great diversity of older adults, ranging from the robust to care-dependent and those in between.

The physical and social environments in which people live are powerful influences on how they age. Advantages and disadvantages contribute to increased capacity. Financial resources play a part as well. Older people with the greatest health-related needs often have the least economic and social resources to meet them.

Only a small number of older adults are dependent on others for their care. Many more continue to make valuable contributions to their families and communities.

In 2011, researchers in the U.K. and Ireland found that the contributions older people made through taxation, consumer spending and other economically valuable activities were worth significantly more than the total expenditure on them through pensions, welfare and health care.

Less evidence is available from low- and middle-income countries, but the contributions are still significant. In Kenya, the average age of small farmers is 60, making seniors critical for ensuring food security.

Good health in older age is not just the absence of disease. While older adults may have a number of health conditions, they still continue to be able to do the things that are important to them. Living active and fulfilled lives can be a better predictor of health and well-being than the presence of an illness.

In an age-friendly community, integrated services that focus on improving this quality of life may prove less expensive than services that focus on a specific disease.

Families will always play a central role in providing care to older adults, but they can’t do it alone. Long-term care should be shared between families, governments and other sectors with caregivers receiving adequate training and support. This partnership could ensure access to quality health care and avoid financial hardships for both older people and their caregivers.

Spending money on the older population is an investment, not a cost. Such an investment can yield significant dividends in the health and well-being of older people through their increased participation and expenditure. Communities that look for ways to enhance the abilities of seniors to do the things they value will reap huge dividends.

Contrary to popular thought, healthy aging is not all about genes. The cumulative impact of how we choose to live our lives shapes behaviours across the life course.

Opportunities and barriers are strongly influenced by sex, ethnicity, occupation, level of education and wealth. Communities that adapt age-friendly policies can address behaviours through increased education and a focus on healthy choices.

An enforced mandatory retirement age reinforces ageism. Age has not been found to be a reliable indicator for judging workers’ potential productivity or employability.

Many people don’t want to retire at age 65 – either from a desire to continue to contribute or from necessity. By eliminating mandatory retirement ages, society has increased older workers’ ability to contribute.

Furthermore, companies continue to benefit from the capabilities and knowledge from years spent on the job.

Through the partnership between Brant MPP Dave Levac and the Grand River Council on Aging, older people and seniors have been afforded the opportunity to participate in the Age-Friendly Community Summit. To date, six gatherings have taken place and the numbers of registrants continues to grow each time. More and more seniors are speaking up and their insights gained through a lifetime will be of significant value and benefit to our communities.

An interim report has been written following each gathering and was circulated to all participants. For those wishing to read the reports, go to www.grcoa.ca and click on ‘Age-Friendly Planning.’  

The next gathering is scheduled for Aug. 19 and will take place at the Brant Sports Complex from 9 a.m. to noon.  The focus of this gathering will be “respect and social inclusion.”

A final report is scheduled to be completed by April 2017.

This work is important. The conclusions and recommendations will be of tremendous benefit to all three levels of government as they continue to incorporate an age-friendly focus in planning.

Working together, we can combat ageism through recognition and acceptance of seniors for their intrinsic and unique value.