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 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. 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:
- Medical and social supports
- Basic needs