In 2010, the Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries (SPCCND) utilized a community development approach to examine the issues of poverty and aging through a Symposium entitled “Moving Towards an Age-Friendly Community”.
In 2011, the SPCCND received a Federal New Horizons for Seniors Grant to conduct a Community Needs Assessment of older adults based on the eight focus areas outlined by the World Health Organization. Through this project, 131 members of the older adult community and service providers in Cambridge were consulted through a survey, focus groups, key informant interviews, and a community forum.
The feedback gathered indicates there are some priority areas where residents believe we should focus our efforts as a community in order to become more age-friendly.
Transportation a key factor influencing active aging, and it impacts other areas such as access to community and social supports, and inclusion. Public transit system is good for some things but difficult to use for medical appointments or if you cannot plan a trip in advance. Accessibility and cost are barriers for some people in accessing public transportation.
In a truly age friendly community, not having a car or not being able to drive is not a barrier to maintaining a high quality of life.
Housing is essential to safety and well-being. Where we live is more than just a roof - it’s a home. Older adults want to age in place, but also in the right place for their individual circumstances. Waiting times to access housing must be addressed as well as the availability and affordability of appropriate housing, and housing with supports.
Health and support services are essential to maintaining active aging and aging in place. This includes a wide network of services from hospitals to family support, home care and community organizations.
All residents should be able to participate fully in society without facing barriers due to age. There were mixed results on this issue in the 2011 needs assessment, depending on the individual and their personal experience. Sometimes respondents said they felt respected and included and other times they experienced a lack of consideration from others. The amount of respect and inclusion people experience as they age is tied to their quality of life and social participation.
All residents should be able to participate fully in society by staying connected to events, people and activities and accessing information.
It is vital to our quality of life to be able to find and use the information we need. The rapid evolution of communication technologies can be both a useful tool and a format for exclusion. All information should be communicated in a manner that can be readily and easily accessed.