Canada's senior population is growing. This makes it more important than ever to support the health and well-being of older Canadians. This way, seniors can lead healthy and active lives and stay involved in their communities. Making communities "age-friendly" is believed to be one of the best ways to do this.
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.
For example, in an age-friendly community:
An age-friendly community:
In an age-friendly community:
In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) developed the Global Age-Friendly Cities Project. This project brought together cities from around the world that were interested in supporting healthy aging by becoming more age-friendly. These cities gathered information from seniors, senior-care providers and other groups and individuals with an interest in age-friendly communities. This information helped to identify eight key areas of community life in which communities can become more age-friendly. These areas are:
Thirty-three cities took part in this project, including four Canadian cities: Saanich (BC), Portage la Prairie (MB), Sherbrooke (QC), and Halifax (NS). The document Global Age-friendly Cities: A Guide (PDF Document) was published to share the reports of what makes a city age-friendly.
In 2007, the Federal, Provincial, Territorial Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities Initiative used the same method as the WHO Global Age-Friendly Cities Project but focused on Canadian communities with populations under 5,000. In total, ten communities across eight provinces participated. These communities were:
As a result of this initiative, in 2007 the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors endorsed the report Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities: A Guide reflecting Canadian views and circumstances.
To date, ten provinces are promoting age-friendly community initiatives in Canada. Visit the Web sites of these provinces to find out what is being done:
Becoming an age-friendly community is an ongoing process. To help communities with this process, the Public Health Agency of Canada in collaboration with key partners developed the Pan-Canadian Age-Friendly Communities Milestones (Milestones). These milestones describe the steps a community needs to follow to successfully apply the age-friendly Communities model in Canada. They recognize that communities have different needs and available resources to take action in the eight areas of community life. By adopting a "milestones approach" that focuses on the process, communities can successfully become more age-friendly.
These are the Pan-Canadian Age-Friendly Communities Milestones:
Where provincial/territorial recognition programs exist, communities that have demonstrated that they have met at least the first three age-friendly communities milestones can be recognized by their province or territory as officially on the road to becoming age-friendly.
Provinces or territories may seek additional recognition for their communities from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization.
To learn more about age-friendly communities, take a look at the following publications.