COMMENTARY: It’s time to commit to age-friendly communities

Lillian Nakamura Maguire

Oct. 1 is the International Day of Older Persons. The theme this year is “Journey to Age Equality.”

In recognition of this day, the Whitehorse United Church has supported a proposal to work toward the goal to be older adult-friendly in all its activities, facilities and services. Committees are reviewing their activities using a checklist to help guide their work.

With our growing older population, the goal of an age-friendly community is one businesses, community groups, various levels of government and politicians vying for our votes would be wise to consider as well.

An age-friendly community is one “that supports the health, participation and security of all, regardless of age, including features such as the availability of different housing options and transportation options, neighbourhood walkability, access to services for older residents, safety and opportunities to engage in social and civic activities,” according to a June 2019 report from the national Forum of Ministers Responsible for Seniors.

Below are practical ways your business, community and recreational organizations, arts and educational institutions, churches and all governments can consider when providing age-friendly services, programs and activities.

Many of these are already being done and require no financial costs to organizations or businesses. Some will require longer-term planning and financial resources.

Accessible and Safe Facilities

Outdoors ensure that:

• Sidewalks and steps are free of ice, snow, wet leaves around your facility/business – snow is piled to avoid blocking wheelchairs or those getting out of cars

• Entrances are free of obstructions (e.g. sidewalk signs near entrance)

• Parking spaces and drop-off spots are clearly marked and accessible for people with mobility issues or special needs

• Parking lots and trails are well-lit

Indoors ensure that:

• Doors are wide enough for wheelchairs or walkers or scooters

• Ramps or lifts or elevators are available for those unable to climb stairs

• Rooms are clearly visible and marked with large print signage

• Signage and directions have words and symbols to bathrooms, meeting rooms, access to refreshments, use of elevators, etc.

• Bright lighting is available, especially in darker hallways and staircases

• Non-slip flooring and mats that are not tripping hazards

• Floor and aisles are free of clutter, flooring is smooth and even

• Chairs are available near entrance or where people may need to rest if they are unable to stand for long (e.g. lineup, at staircase)

• Sturdy handrails available on stairways

• Accessible public washrooms that are easy to locate

• Spacious rooms that allow for easy mobility for wheelchairs, walkers or scooters

Communications for Visibility and Clarity

Ensure that:

• Presenters speak clearly and at an appropriate speed, while looking directly at the person

• A good sound system is available for group gatherings and microphones are used for audience/speaker discussions

• Trained staff and volunteers are available to assist people with vision or hearing challenges or in managing situations such as a fall or a confused person, while preserving the person’s dignity

• Signs, pamphlets or other reading materials are readable – with clear colour contrasts and large print size

• There is no loud background noise as this can be distracting and uncomfortable for those with hearing challenges or hearing aids

• Websites are easy to navigate and people are able to enlarge the font

• People are able to access information in a format they prefer – print, radio, community TV, accessible format for those with hearing or vision loss

• Emergency planning takes into account the capabilities and vulnerabilities of older adults/people with dementia

Programs and Services

Ensure that:

• Older adults are included as full partners in community decision-making affecting them – input into programs, events and services

• Events are held at times and places that are safe, convenient, accessible, affordable and close to bus transportation

• Activities bring together different generations and encourage interaction

• Older adults are invited to be on committees or advisory groups to show you value their skills and knowledge

• Quiet space is offered for rest breaks from a busy and long meeting

• If requested, a support person is allowed to accompany the older person

There are many other tips for businesses and organizations when planning meetings and other programing. Various reports with advice are available on both the federal and territorial governments’ websites.

On International Day of Older Persons Oct. 1st, take time to consider what opportunities are available for you or your organization to utilize the talents of older people and to support them in being fully engaged in our communities.

The Yukon is one of few jurisdictions not endorsing age-friendly communities. It is time to make a commitment to this goal.

Lillian Nakamura Maguire is a Whitehorse resident, retired older adult and member of the Whitehorse United Church

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukon RCMP are making an appeal for information in the case of Mary Ann Ollie, who was murdered in Ross River last year and whose case remains unsolved. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Submitted
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read