In 2007 the World Health Organization produced a document on age-friendly cities .  The intention is to help communities create an environment that is both accessible and inclusive of the age 60+ population.  Increasingly this term – age-friendly communities – has been used to build momentum and understanding for the types of transportation, housing, recreation and care that is needed by an older adult.  It is complex, expensive and time consuming.  Businesses need to recognize the changing demographics and retain or attract older clients by offering an age-friendly environment.  I believe there are simple ways to do this.

Since moving to Victoria, British Columbia a year ago I have had the opportunity to observe first-hand a community that embraces older adults.  Rather than stereo-type Victoria as the place where all the ‘old people’ live in Canada, have a look at charts #1, #2 and #3 below.  There are a surprising number of geographic areas that are equally as old as, or even older than Victoria based on both the median age and the percentage of older adults in their population.  In an earlier post I talked about the differences in aging rates of various locations across Canada .  However, even those communities that are aging are not always acknowledging some of the needs of their changing population.

What has caught my attention in Victoria is the readiness of the business community to support and assist older people.  It is the relatively simple stuff that is helpful as people go through their daily routines.  It is about:  The ease of finding a service station that provides both ‘self serve’ and ‘we serve’ options – usually at the same price; grocery stores that are quick to offer help carrying purchases to the shopper’s car and banks that welcome their customers by name and recalling recent events in their client’s lives.  These are smart businesses that make an effort to attract the key older demographic.  However my observations in some other communities that have an equally old demographic there is no emphasis on providing these types of services.  Businesses need to better plan for demographic change in their community.  “If you want to win their trust, you have to listen to what they’re saying.”[1]

 

The charts below indicate, by location, the median age of the population, the change in the age 65+ population between the 2006 and 2011 census and the percentage of the population in 2011 that was age 65 and older.

Chart #1 – Select British Columbia locations-(Statistics Canada)

BC Locations Median Age % Change    Age 65+ % Age 65+
Comox 49.1 22.1 25.8
Kelowna City 43.0 7.5 19.1
Kelowna (Metro   Area) 44.2 11.7 19.2
Oak Bay 52.4 11.0 27.8
Parksville 58.2 20.3 38.6
Qualicum Beach 63.9 17.5 47.2
Saanich 44.0 4.7 18.3
Vancouver City 39.7 7.8 13.6
Vancouver (Metro   Area) 40.2 15.3 13.5
Victoria City 41.9 0.5 18.4
Victoria (Metro   Area) 44.2 7.8 18.4

Chart #2 – Select Ontario locations- (Statistics Canada)

Ontario Locations Median Age %   Change     Age 65+ % Age 65+
Burlington 41.8 17.2 16.9
Coborg 49.6 10.2 26.5
Collingwood 47.0 23.5 22.8
Elliot Lake 57.1 8.9 35.1
Hamilton 40.9 8.2 15.7
Huntsville 45.7 13.6 19.9
Mississauga 38.5 24.0 11.4
Niagara-on-the-Lake 51.0 13.2 25.9
Orillia 45.2 10.2 20.9
Port Hope 47.2 11.6 20.2
Toronto 40.1 6.8 14.4
Windsor 40.1 7.0 15.7

Chart #3 – Select Nova Scotia locations- (Statistics Canada)

Nova Scotia   Locations Median Age % Change  Age   65+ % Age 65+
Cape Breton (RM) 47.5 4.4 20.0
Halifax (Metro) 39.9 13.6 13.1
Lunenburg 48.7 12.7 19.4
New Glasgow (Town) 46.1 9.5 21.1
Truro (Town) 45.6 1.3 22.1

 


[1] The Big Shift (2013), Darrell Bricker & John Ibbitson, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto, p 177.