'Age-friendly' is the idea of making structures and services more accessible and inclusive for seniors with varying needs and capacities.
This means looking at how we build infrastructure, the way we get around, and even the way we shop for goods and services.
Age-friendly communities promote healthy and active aging. People in age-friendly communities are supported in maintaining their independence and have access to the community supports and services they need.
Key features of an age-friendly community
An age-friendly community may include features such as:
- well-situated public benches
- clean, secure, and accessible public toilets
- maintained and well-lit sidewalks
- fully accessible public buildings
- housing integrated in the community that accommodates changing needs and abilities as people grow older
- friendly, personalized service and information instead of automated answering services
- public and commercials services and stores in neighbourhoods close to where people live
What can I do?
Use the steps below to create an age-friendly initiative in your community. These steps are meant to serve as a helpful guide and can be adapted based on your local conditions and priorities.
For more information, see this guide:
- Building Age-Friendly Communities: A Guide for Local Action
- This guide offers background on the age-friendly communities movement, and provides a step-by-step approach to help mobilize communities to become more age-friendly.
Step 1: Establish a committee
Creating a committee will provide structure, leadership and help set a clear direction from your initiative.
Step 2: Work with your local government to pass a resolution
Passing a resolution helps to formalize your community’s commitment and offers both symbolic and practical benefits.
Local government is responsible for many aspects of community life, including the design and construction of public infrastructure such as:
- recreation facilities
An age-friendly community resolution can have positive impacts on the development of these features and may help your efforts gain formal recognition.
Step 3: Conduct an age-friendly assessment of your community
Assessing your community’s current situation will help find ways it can improve.
An age-friendly assessment may also identify:
- existing structures and services
- other organizations or groups working to make communities more accessible and inclusive for seniors
- barriers to age-friendliness
- Outlines the features and elements found in an age-friendly community and is organized around major aspects of community life.
Step 4: Create an action plan
An action plan is useful for setting and prioritizing actions to make a community more accessible and inclusive. It may also create opportunities for community members to become leaders and champions for your initiative.
Consider these 8 key areas to focus on when creating an action plan:
- outdoor spaces and buildings
- social participation
- respect and social inclusion
- civic participation and employment
- communication and information
- community support and health services
Age-Friendly Alberta Recognition Award
The Government of Alberta acknowledges communities that have taken steps to become more age-friendly through the Age-Friendly Alberta Recognition Award.
Age-friendly communities benefit Albertans in many ways. They help seniors:
- maintain their independence
- prevent illness and injury
- find critical supports and services
Stronger community connections
In an age-friendly community, residents are able and encouraged to actively participate in the community. This includes:
- participating in the workforce
- recreational opportunities
- social activities
- volunteer opportunities
People of all ages, backgrounds and circumstances can interact, share experiences and contribute.
Better use of public resources
Designing and delivering public services in age-friendly ways can lead to improved use of tax dollars. Age-friendly public facilities and infrastructure (such as buildings and parks) can be used by more citizens. Services become more accessible to residents and have a greater impact.
Enhanced focus on citizenship
Age-friendliness leads to a community that recognizes, appreciates and values the contributions made by different members of the community and engages them in all aspects of community life.
Businesses and in the workplace
Age-friendly businesses create additional opportunities for business owners, senior workers and people with disabilities.
If people have a comfortable and respectful experience shopping for goods or receiving services, they are more likely to frequent the business and recommend it to others.
By making your business more age-friendly, you improve your ability to attract and retain knowledgeable and skilled workers.
Taking steps to address the needs of seniors also serves as a powerful expression of social responsibility. If your community has set a goal of becoming an age-friendly community, your efforts to create an age-friendly business will demonstrate a clear commitment to making your community stronger.
Community of Practice
The Alberta Age-Friendly Community of Practice is designed to help communities that are pursuing age-friendliness to connect and share ideas, best practices and expertise.
Communities that are considering or in the process of developing an age-friendly plan are encouraged to join the Community of Practice. By joining this group of committed communities, your area will:
- strengthen individual and collective commitment to age-friendly practices and principles
- share information, resources and promising practice
- engage in intentional dialogue to support yours and other communities that are pursuing age-friendly initiatives
To get involved, contact Healthy Aging CORE Alberta
Additional webinars are available on the CORE Age-Friendly Group – YouTube.
Connect with Seniors Strategies and Program Support:
Email: [email protected]