As Baby Boomers start to reach the age of 65, Canada’s senior population continues to rise dramatically. However, with the latest census showing a resurgence of young children (the under-five population in Canada grew by 11% since the census), it would seem that Canada has become a country of dependents, which is putting a huge strain on the generations sandwiched between our children and our seniors.
Learn more about the Canadian cities with the oldest population.
Top Cities with the Oldest Population in Canada
Ensuring that our provinces are equipped to help plan and care for our aging populations is critical to Canadian seniors and their families, especially those in the sandwich generation. With the number of seniors aged 65 and older projected to exceed 4.8 million by 2031 (which will account for almost 12% of Canada’s total population), many Canadians are wondering whether the country is ready or able to meet senior needs.
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In fact, there are a number of initiatives already in place, including Age-Friendly Communities, a World Health Organization initiative that is currently being followed by nine provinces across Canada. Age-Friendly Communities encourage accommodations for senior populations through initiatives like:
Ensuring infrastructure is in place to support senior needs including retirement communities, geriatric programs at hospitals and doctors who specialize in geriatric medicine
Ensuring public transportation is easily accessible and affordable for seniors
Keeping walkways and sidewalks well lit and clear of snow or ice
Municipal by-laws to ensure buildings have automatic door openers, elevators, stair railings and ramps
Senior involvement in community activities
So, which areas of Canada have the most seniors and are these communities ready to support them? Based on the 2011 census, Statistics Canada shows that while across Canada 14.8% of the population are 65 and older, the Atlantic provinces currently have the highest senior populations. In Nova Scotia, for example, 16.6% of the province’s total population are aged 65 and older.
Looking closely at cities across Canada, “the latest census figures show nearly one in five people in Peterborough was aged 65 or older in 2011 — 19.5 per cent, the highest ratio in the country among municipalities,” Diana Mehta from the Canadian Press reported. “Trois-Rivieres, Que., was next on the list at 19.4 per cent, followed by Kelowna, B.C., St. Catharines, Ont., and Victoria, B.C.”
Surprisingly, none of the heavily populated senior cities or provinces in this list have registered Age-Friendly Community initiatives with the World Health Organization (although they may have other initiatives for seniors in place).
Rossburn, Manitoba’s Age Friendly Access Awareness Event— Rossburn hosts a day dedicated to increasing awareness among youth and local businesses about the challenges older adults can encounter when going out for errands and shopping. With only one store in Rossburn with automatic doors, the town has “recently received funding to make their Community Hall more Age Friendly by installing a lift in the building. Other local establishments are being encouraged to improve their accessibility so that all people, regardless of mobility issues, may be able to shop in their local stores.”
Burlington, Ontario’s Halton Home Share Program — Home share programs offer solutions for many older adults who “wish to remain in their own homes for as long as possible but may find it difficult to maintain household responsibilities. It enables older adults to remain independent and active, while developing meaningful relationships. There are many individuals who may seek housing and due to a lack of available and affordable housing options, HomeShare would serve as a good solution. HomeShare can offer companionship, reduce isolation and provide safety and security.”
Hamilton, Ontario’s Age Friendly Outdoor Trails — “Let’s Take a Walk” is promoting the health benefits of walking and increasing opportunities for older adults to participate in outdoor recreational walking along trail systems in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.” The trail guide “contains unique information about featured trails including, ease of use, walkability, and key features of each trail. This guide contains original maps, pictures, and information about how to access trails,” and can be accessed for free at http://www.coahamilton.ca.
London, Ontario’s Senior Satellite Programs — This initiative helps the city offer senior programming that is widely available. “Programs at the satellites include fitness (seated and active), yoga (seated and mat), dance (such as line dancing, belly dancing, zumba, square dancing), arts & crafts (such as scrapbooking, painting), social time (which includes cards, board games, coffee time), and more. In addition, members of the satellites receive a discount on City of London recreation programs offered at the hubs, and a discount on bus trips…To date, over 400 active Londoners, aged 55 & over belong to a satellite location.”
Ottawa, Ontario’s Community Connect Program — “It is estimated that 10 per cent of older adults are isolated and at an increased risk of losing their independence,” which is why “Ottawa Public Health (OPH), in collaboration with community partners, established the Community Connect program which promotes the awareness and identification of vulnerable older adults and provides telephone information and referral services. The program is based on a gatekeeper model from the United States. It trains non-traditional referral sources (NTRS), who have regular contact with older adults, to identify and link isolated or at-risk older adults for additional support and services.”
Are you living in a province or town with an older population? We’d love to hear about the senior-friendly initiatives taking place in your community. Share them with us in the comments below.