Simcoe County’s older adult population is expected to double during the next 20 years and officials are taking critical steps to ensure that the region remains a positive, safe and sustainable area for seniors to live and thrive. As a result of extensive public and stakeholder consultation, research and assessment, the Positive Aging Strategy has been released, which includes detailed planning framework and recommendations to support regional and municipal governments and businesses in building and strengthening age-friendly communities.
The Positive Aging Strategy now provides a framework for implementing key actions, projects and initiatives to support our communities and businesses in fostering positive aging that meet the needs of the local aging population. In addition to providing a framework for new strategies, the document also outlines objectives to build on and promote the many existing age-friendly programs currently in place throughout the county.
The strategy builds on the 2017 Age-Friendly Needs Assessment. The assessment identified high-level regional age-friendly needs, priorities and opportunities, which align with the World Health Organization’s eight age-friendly dimensions. Using those guidelines, the county strategy identifies the following goals for each theme and lists priority implementation initiatives.
Communications and Information goal: remove communication barriers that progressively cut older people off from others, particularly barriers related to accessibility, affordability, low literacy and diminished capacity by providing timely, practical information to manage life and meet personal needs vital for active aging.
Transportation goal: provide transportation options that are accessible and affordable to promote active aging. Improve mobility options, support social and civic participation and increase access to community and health services.
Housing goal: ensure sufficient, appropriate, and affordable housing dedicated to older people is provided and located close to essential services and transportation. Ensure older people are well informed of these housing options across Simcoe County.
Health and Community Supports goal: remove barriers that older adults experience with accessing and utilizing community and health supports. Ensure services offered address the needs and concerns of older people to enhance quality of life and meet personal health needs.
Outdoor Spaces and Buildings goal: provide pleasant, clean, secure and physically accessible outdoor spaces and public buildings by increasing accessibility and removing barriers that limit opportunities for people with disabilities or age-related impairments to participate in healthy, active living activities and to access services in their communities.
Civic Participation, Volunteerism and Employment goal: increase awareness of the impact of an aging demographic, and provide opportunities for employment, volunteerism and intergenerational programming that cater to older adults’ interests and abilities.
Social Participation goal: remove barriers that prevent older adults from participating in their community such as inaccessible buildings; personal safety at night; transportation needs; affordability; and sometimes restricted admission. Social participation and support are strongly connected to good health and well-being throughout life.
Respect and Social Inclusion goal: Simcoe County older adults will be treated with respect, recognition and inclusion.
“Simcoe County is one of the best places to live in Ontario for residents of all ages and as our population ages, we are committed to making our communities as age-friendly as possible,” said County of Simcoe Warden Gerry Marshall, in a news release. “This is an important document that will guide our strategies and helps shape our communities. We thank the province for providing funding support, our Age-Friendly Steering Committee and our residents for contributing to this vision.”
The Positive Aging Strategy Report is available online at www.simcoe.ca/age-friendly. Progress will be monitored and an annual report card will be submitted to county council over the next five years to measure impacts and identify additional opportunities.