Finding the Right Fit: Age-Friendly Community Planning
Over the next 20 years, the number of seniors aged 65 and over in Ontario will almost double to 4.2 million.
Age-friendly communities respond to the opportunities and challenges of an aging population by creating physical and social environments that support independent and active living. They help older people to continue contributing to all aspects of community life.
The Ontario Seniors' Secretariat, the University of Waterloo, McMaster University and the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, along with an advisory group including municipal and community partners, developed the principles of the Age-Friendly Community Planning Guide based on standards developed by the World Health Organization. These principles consider both the physical and social factors that contribute to independent and active aging, including:
- Outdoor Spaces and Public Buildings: When people view a neighbourhood as safe and accessible, it encourages engagement with the community.
- Transportation: The condition and design of transportation-related infrastructure, such as signage, traffic lights and sidewalks, affects personal mobility.
- Housing: Many older adults want to age in their own homes. The availability of appropriate and affordable housing is essential for age-friendly communities.
- Social Participation: Interacting with family and friends is an important part of positive mental health and community awareness.
The guide helps municipalities assess the community, define local principles, conduct needs assessments, develop and implement an action plan and evaluate progress. To assist municipalities in meeting these targets, the guide:
- Explains the characteristics of an age-friendly community and how it can respond to the opportunities and challenges of Ontario's aging population.
- Provides a one-stop shop for a broad range of existing age-friendly community resources.
- Recognizes that collecting information about characteristics of a community as broadly as possible is critical to a successful age-friendly initiative.
- Offers those working on age-friendly community initiatives a framework for making informed choices that can be tailored and adapted to local circumstances.