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The Age-friendly Action Plan: A safe, inclusive, and engaging city for seniors

Two seniors dancing together

The Age-friendly Action Plan is a series of over 60 actions that the City can take to help make Vancouver a more safe, inclusive, and engaging city for seniors.

We seek to improve facilities and services for seniors across the full spectrum, from fully independent older adults and seniors, to those who are more vulnerable and need additional support.

We built on what we learned from consultations with over 400 Vancouver seniors, caregivers, and seniors organizations through the Seniors Dialogues Project – as well as our work on dementia with our partners.

The plan includes six key areas from the Healthy City Strategy, and is informed by two of its guiding principles: improving health and well-being for all, and addressing inequities.

Related initiatives

Read about this initiative in-depth

Related progress on this initiative

December 1, 2015 - The Alzheimer Society B.C., the City of Vancouver (Social Policy), and the Vancouver Police Department partnered to produce "Jim's Story," a video featuring Alzheimer's Advocate Jim Mann. The video explores the experience of living with dementia and how communities can support people impacted by the disease.

July 8, 2015 - Vancouver City Council approved the first four-year action plan for the Healthy City Strategy. The Action Plan sets out 19 high-priority actions for the City and our partners to take from 2015 to 2018.

Parts of the strategy are built from the vision of the Age Friendly Action Plan. In particular, goal 9 of the Healthy City Strategy, which seeks to develop and deliver broad-based training to enhance City staff when addressing conditions, particularly trauma, that create vulnerability (including dementia.)

June 26, 2013 – Staff present the Age-Friendly Action Plan to Council. The report is informed by our recent Seniors Dialogues project, and creates 61 actions in six areas, with half already in progress.

October 29 – November 16, 2012 – The City holds six Seniors Dialogues to find out from seniors and other stakeholders how the City can support the development of more age-friendly facilities and services. At the Dialogues, over 400 participants shared their perspectives on specific topics that aligned with the City's Healthy City Strategy. Some events included special language tables with interpreters that encouraged any topic of interest.

May 15, 2012 – Council passes a motion directing staff to develop policy that better assists residents with dementia, in partnership with advisory committees, the Alzheimer Society of BC, and Vancouver Coastal Health. The policy should include training front-line City staff to identify signs of seniors in crisis.

Age-friendly Action Plan

Council presentations

Reports

Seniors Dialogues Project (2012)

Seniors in Vancouver (2010)

Learn about the key issues facing Vancouver's seniors community in this comprehensive background paper that combines census data with a range of expertise and research.

What is an age-friendly city?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an age-friendly city is one that "encourages active aging by optimizing opportunities for health, participation, and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age." Quality of life is explained in three ways:

  • Society: Seniors are supported to age actively, enjoy good health, remain independent, and stay involved in communities.
  • Economy: Businesses are better able to support older workers and benefit from support of older customers.
  • Physical environment: Buildings and streets are safe and barrier-free, with better access to local businesses and facilities. Cities have more green spaces.
Everyone benefits when we have safer streets and sidewalks, more inclusive and accessible facilities and services, and significant contributions to our communities from seniors.

How we developed the Age-Friendly Action Plan

  • Seniors Dialogues (Fall 2012)
  • Consultations with Seniors and Persons With Disabilities Advisory Committees
  • Staff workshop on dementia with Alzheimer Society of BC and United Way of the Lower Mainland
  • Roundtables with City departments, Park Board, Vancouver Public Library, Fire and Rescue Services, Vancouver Coastal Health

A closer look at the Seniors Dialogues

The purpose of the Seniors Dialogues was to engage with older adults, caregivers, and community agencies that support seniors and caregivers on how the City can ensure that its facilities and services are age-friendly.

The intent was to gather the varied perspectives of the city’s older adult population on what an age-friendly city should look like. To accomplish this, the project organizers worked to involve a diverse group of older adults reflecting the overall diversity of Vancouver’s seniors’ population.

Community engagement process

Over 400 participants took part in the project, most in one of the six seniors dialogues that were held across the city.

Community members were also invited to participate by calling the Seniors Dialogues hotline via the City's 3-1-1 customer service line, or by emailing the project. In addition, further community input was gathered through two focus groups and eight key informant interviews to ensure that a diversity of perspectives were included in the project.

The project was successful at reaching the target audience:

  • 83% of dialogue participants were older adults (age 55 plus)
  • 18% were care providers
  • 61% worked or volunteered for a seniors-serving organization.

The project was also successful at attracting a diverse group of seniors from a variety of age-cohorts:

  • 24% of dialogue participants were between the ages of 55 and 64 years
  • 51% were between the ages of 65 and 80
  • 7% were over the age of 81

Identifying opportunities for the City

The Dialogues identified a number of opportunities for the City to ensure services and facilities are age friendly. These include:

  • Enhancing mobility
  • Making information about seniors supports and services accessible
  • Building community capacity

Identifying opportunities for senior government 

Some opportunities identified by the Dialogues fall outside of the City's jurisdiction. In these areas, we have a role in advocating on behalf of older adults in Vancouver, and facilitating partnerships with other levels of government and community stakeholders.

These opportunities include:

  • Housing 
  • Medical and social supports
  • Mobility
  • Basic needs

Vancouver's aging population

The number of seniors in Vancouver is expected to double by 2036, to 21.6% of the population. This represents 94,000 more seniors, including 23,000 more seniors aged 80+.

Of Vancouver seniors:

  • 29% live alone
  • 27% are low income, with 62% women
  • 24% do not understand English or French
  • 0.6% are Aboriginal elders

Canadians 65+ spend more time volunteering than other age groups, on average four hours per week.

Dementia in Vancouver

The prevalence of dementia in Vancouver is increasing:

  • 10,133 Vancouver residents with diagnosed dementia in 2011
  • 1,737 new diagnoses on average per year

The Alzheimer Society estimates that 1 in 11 seniors have dementia, which accounts for 90% of all cases.

Dementia touches every area of daily life

Health

  • Increases vulnerability to physical and emotional abuse
  • Complicates other health conditions

Financial

  • Creates a financial burden for affected families
  • Raises risk of financial abuse

Social

  • Increases chances of isolation
  • Prompts seniors to care for seniors

Economic

  • Adds direct medical and non-medical costs
  • Contributes to societal costs of family care and community supports 

 

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Age-friendly Action Plan

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Seniors' Advisory Committee

The Seniors' Advisory Committee identifies and suggests solutions to gaps and barriers that impede the full participation of seniors and the elderly in all aspects of city life.

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BC211

BC211's "Redbook" is a complete online directory of programs and services in Vancouver for seniors.

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