Communities that are safe, functional and welcoming for older adults are also more accessible for residents of all ages and abilities. Other benefits of planning for age-friendly environments include improved resident health and community engagement, more business opportunities, and wiser use of public resources in service provision.
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As global life expectancies increase, the share of the world’s population aged 65 years and older is growing faster than any other age group. In 2016, the number of seniors in Canada exceeded the number of children aged 0-14 years for the first time. This trend is holding true in Beaumont, where the number of seniors is growing faster than other age groups.
The Age-Friendly Strategy was developed to respond proactively to this demographic change. It identifed needs in Beaumont related to age-friendly facilities and services, recommended actions that the City and its partners can take to address them, and set out a plan for implementing those actions. In doing so, the Age-Friendly Strategy will help implement policy direction in the Municipal Development Plan to ensure housing, public spaces, transportation, social and recreation programs and other services meet residents’ needs at all stages of life.
“Aging in place” refers to a person’s ability to live in the same home or community safely, independently, and comfortably, as they age. “Age-friendly communities” are those that help promote aging in place by fostering both individual health and supportive physical, social and policy environments.
The process began in summer 2020, and the strategy was completed in summer 2021.
The strategy is based on a framework developed by the World Health Organization and endorsed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and Alberta Health. This framework considers both physical infrastructure (such as public spaces, buildings, transportation and housing) and community programs and attributes (such as social inclusion, civic participation, communication, and health services).
The Age-Friendly Strategy project was guided by a working group made up of local service providers and seniors. It also included two rounds of public engagement to learn about Beaumont's age-friendly needs and gather feedback on the draft strategy.