Older people who live in rural areas can become isolated with fewer transportation options available once they are no longer able to drive and limited access to other services and programs found in larger centers. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, approximately 23 per cent of seniors live in rural areas and small towns and this number is expected to increase as more retired adults move outside of cities to the country.
With a lack of transportation, seniors living in rural areas may also face obstacles in getting healthy and nutritious foods, medical treatment as well as maintaining important social connections. As the number of older adults rises, rural residents are working to bring housing and health support to seniors in their home communities. Change can often becomes increasingly difficult as we age, especially for those with dementia. Many grassroots groups are working to provide support for aging residents who have lived and contributed to their community throughout their lives and now rely on their family and neighbours for help.
One such project, located outside Calgary, is the Hunt Coulee Village which is addressing the needs of rural seniors who want to age close to home, friends and family with housing and services to support their needs in older age. The project has been in the planning phase since 2005 and selection of lots will take place in early 2016. Visit http://www.huntcouleevillage.ca/ to learn more.
For information about creating more age-friends rural communities, the PHAC had developed a guide built on the methodology developed in the World Health Organization’s Global Age-Friendly Cities Project. To download the guide or read online visit: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/seniors-aines/alt-formats/pdf/publications/public/healthy-sante/age_friendly_rural/AFRRC_en.pdf.