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Five Fast Facts – What Does our Aging Population Need?

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1. Our aging population needs better sidewalks and crosswalks

In this podcast David Foot, an economist and demographer at University of Toronto, addresses the need for longer pedestrian lights at crosswalks for older people who walk more slowly and tapered sidewalk curbs that reduce the chances of older adults tripping. These needs align with the concerns seniors in Bridgeland have expressed to us as part of our Active Neighbourhoods project. Specifically, Bridgeland’s seniors emphasize how crucial snow and ice removal on sidewalks and crosswalks is for moving around their neighbourhoods in the winter months.

 

2. Our aging population needs more secure and better lit streets

This study finds that safety is a key concern for older adults, specifically women, in terms of moving around and feeling at home in their community. Lighting in public areas directly contributes to how comfortable older adults feel in public spaces, as we found in our Women’s Safety Walk in Bridgeland.

 

3. Our aging population needs more affordable services, living areas and gathering places

In our conversations with seniors in Bridgeland, we found that the need for affordable services and gathering places is a common concern for aging adults in this community. For example, elderly residents are often concerned with the affordability of grocery located in the community. Inline with our findings, this study finds that as people age, they put a larger emphasis on access to affordable services and housing.

 

4. Our aging population needs better alternatives to driving

In this podcast Gil Peneloza, the founder of 8-80 City, talks about how many seniors are terrified of the day they lose their driver’s licenses, not because they love cars but because they love the mobility cars allow them. This study argues that we need to reorient our car-centric neighbourhoods to be more pedestrian and transit-focused as our population ages in order to improve mobility for those who no longer feel comfortable driving.

 

5. Our aging population needs living areas that are connected with surrounding communities

Aging in place is becoming a more common theme when addressing the needs of our aging population for a number of reasons. Firstly, according to this podcast, developing communities in which seniors can live and actively participate with other generations allows people, as they get older, to lead more productive and interesting lives. Secondly, according to this article, well connected communities with neighbours that actively care for one another can act as safety nets for elderly adults.  One key aspect of such neighbours is the presence of destinations that people can walk to, and in which they can socialize with a variety of community residents, such as affordable coffee shops – which seniors in Bridgeland say the community is lacking.

 

Sources

Bigonnesse, Catherine, Marie Beaulieu, and Suzanne Garon. “Meaning of Home in Later Life as a Concept to Understand Older Adults’ Housing Needs: Results from the 7 Age-Friendly Cities Pilot Project in Québec.” Journal of Housing for the Elderly, 2014, 357-82.

The Current. “How to Design Cities for an Aging Population.” CBC. February 13, 2015. Accessed February 21, 2015. http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2015/02/13/how-to-design-cities-for-an-aging-population/.

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