Age-friendly efforts in infancy

As the world’s population grows older and is moving into cities, a global effort is underway to make urban areas more friendly to aging people – and Saskatchewan is joining in.

At the beginning of the month, the province recognized three communities as achieving age-friendly status: Strasbourg, Rosetown and Regina Beach.

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The Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism was behind the effort to have the legislature recognize those communities making a effort to become age-friendly.

“Saskatchewan was actually behind. Every other province has had recognition for awhile,” said Michel Sorensen, the program co-ordinator. “SSM has approached the provincial government in hopes that they would finally start to recognize communities working towards this process.”

Here in Humboldt, an effort to become age-friendly is in its infancy. Sorensen said she came to the city in September to talk about how to kick-start the process.

Safe Communities Humboldt hosted Sorensen. Shari Hinz, Safe Communities’ executive director, said due to commitments in the fall, nothing further has happened with it yet.

“I’m thinking sometime in the new year I’ll communicate with the group and send a note to those that attended to see where the next step is from there.”

The World Health Organization has a framework that details eight key features of a age-friendly city: it has outdoor spaces that are clean, accessible and safe; there’s affordable and accessible transportation with a range of destinations; there’s affordable housing with designs or modification to make aging life easier; there’s social activities that are affordable and integrate seniors into the fabric of the community; there’s respect for seniors within the community; there’s chances for seniors to work and volunteers; communications that uses word of mouth and large printing; and accessible and affordable health and home care.

Those communities wanting to become age-friendly have four basic steps to follow: create a committee, secure the support of the municipal government, assess what the needs are and develop an action plan in consultation with seniors.

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