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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Seniors Advocates Offer Council 8 Keys Towards More Age-Friendly Communities!

New Report Points Out Specific Actions Towards Becoming More Age-Friendly

Omemee, though small size-wise actively works towards making its community age-friendly, as does Fenelon Falls. However, City of Kawartha Lakes as a whole needs to make greater efforts towards ensuring seniors do not need to move to other more supportive communities as they age. The new Age-Friendly City of Kawartha Lakes: Report to the Community presented at today's council meeting, urges local politicians, municipal officials, service providers and area residents 'to improve current polices and practices to accommodate and celebrate an aging population.” The report cites specific actions that can help ensure seniors do not need to move to more age-friendly municipalities in their later years.

8 Keys Towards More Age-Friendly Communities Take Action Now!

With a growing seniors population in City of Kawartha Lakes, it is of utmost importance actions outlined in the new age-friendly report be undertaken. The just-released report, based on extensive public feedback, outlines eight key areas in which to create a more “age- friendly” City of Kawartha Lakes. These key areas include:
1. Outdoor Spaces and Public Buildings
2. Transportation
3. Housing
4. Communication and Information
5. Civic Participation and Employment
6. Community Support and Health Services
7. Respect and Social Inclusion
8. Social Participation

“An aging population represents challenges and opportunities,” says Doreen Boville, a Health Promoter with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “This report is intended to serve as a roadmap by which the City of Kawartha Lakes can become a more age-friendly community.”

According to Boville, an age-friendly community is a healthy and active place where people of all ages and abilities enjoy enhanced quality of life. By providing programs and support services that assist older adults, an age-friendly community helps all its citizens, including families, young children and persons with disabilities. Locally, the Health Unit initiated the age-friendly project in 2010 with the assistance of local service providers and older adults. After two years of promoting and gaining feedback on the concept of an age-friendly community, the Report to the Community is intended to turn words into concrete action.
“With the support and direction from local residents, we want to get down to work,” says Boville.

The Age-Friendly City of Kawartha Lakes: Report to the Community finds that, while people are generally happy living in their communities, they fear they may have no choice but to move away if their needs change as they get older.

Specific Actions Towards More Age-Friendly Communities

The report also calls for specific actions, such as:

• Breaking down barriers to accessible outdoor spaces and public buildings by creating more rest areas, making public washrooms more accessible and ensuring sidewalks are well-maintained. Businesses could also do more to make their storefronts more accessible.
• Taking action to address a shortage of rural transportation and accessible public parking spaces.
• Making affordable, accessible housing more available in the area.
• Reducing waiting lists for long-term care and addressing the shortage of health care providers in the community.
• Encouraging more collaboration and communication between young and old
• Improving awareness about disabilities and mental health issues.
Doreen Boville,Health Promoter with the Health Unit, said the report was presented to City of Kawartha Lakes council today, and that it was received for information. Councillors have also sent the report to city staff for review, and possible action on its recommendations.
In addition, the Report to the Community is being distributed to local agencies that work with older adults, municipal departments within the City of Kawartha Lakes, and advisory committees of council. In Omemee and Fenelon Falls, work is already underway to address concerns identified in the report. For more information about the Age-Friendly City of Kawartha Lakes report, contact the Health Unit at (705) 324-3569.

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