British Columbia and Canada are aging. In 20 years, one quarter of British Columbians will be over 65, and less and less of them are interested in living in group homes. Where does that leave us?
Cities are an obvious choice for seniors who want to ditch the car, but still have ready access to healthcare and social services. However, plenty of smaller B.C. communities are becoming magnets for retirees because of their location, quaint size, and lifestyle.
Around the world, more and more municipalities are catering services for the older generation. They’re trying to accommodate their needs, as well as attract them to their cities. Canadian cities are especially focused on being accommodating, of the 258 cities and towns in the World Health Organization’s network of age-friendly cities, sixteen are in Canada, with Saanich on Vancouver Island being the only West Coast entry.
Within B.C., the provincial government recognizes 36 B.C. communities as age-friendly because they have researched what their residents want and created a plan (in Metro Vancouver: Anmore, Burnaby, Langley Township, North Vancouver city and district, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, West Vancouver and White Rock).
Characteristics of an Age-Friendly City
To be considered age-friendly, a city must demonstrate that they’ve gone the extra mile to accommodate the needs of seniors. This can come in many shapes and sizes.
The WHO suggests a wide range of amenities, including accessible green space, health care, public transit and safe, affordable housing. Add social participation, respect and the opportunity to keep working if desired.
Why it Matters?
Beyond the notion of fairness for all citizens are the practical and even economic reasons. Using the knowledge and skills of older people in paid or unpaid work is a resource that is wasted if they are excluded. Most retirees also pay their own freight, buying goods and services that employ others. In terms of the public purse, healthy aging can translate into lower hospital costs.
It’s no surprise that more than 90 per cent of Vancouver residents are within walking distance of a high-frequency bus or train, or that the district of North Vancouver has an abundance of parks. Less obvious might be that the highest rating for a sense of community belonging among retirement-age residents is in Pitt Meadows, and the lowest is in the township of Langley.
If you have any concerns or would like some help living more comfortably at home or booking an in home visit, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-866-982-2737 and speak with some about setting up an at home care assessment today.