Burlington develops an aging plan to keep adults active, healthy, engaged
The ‘nice thing’ is that ‘the payoff is far-reaching for all age groups,’ says recreation supervisor
Burlington is looking at its new Active Aging Plan as something that will benefit all ages, even though it was created for adults 55 and older.
“The nice thing about the plan is that the payoff is far-reaching for all age groups,” said Mandy Newnham, Burlington’s recreation supervisor of adult programs.
The plan proposes city actions to keep older adults active, healthy and engaged — and to help them keep their independence as they age. But many of those actions, such as improving on barrier-free buildings and transit, benefit people of all ages as well, said Newnham.
It’s all part of becoming an agefriendly city, much like Hamilton and other Ontario cities. The provincial government has funded the development of age-friendly plans in 55 cities to help them prepare for the province’s rapidly increasing older population.
Heather Thompson, with the Burlington Age Friendly Council, is happy the city plan has a lot of “action items” reflective of the aging population.
“We do feel so pleased the city is recognizing the importance of active aging and having an age-friendly city,” she said.
Hamilton’s own 60-page plan came out in the fall of 2014 and the city has been chipping away at its 100-plus recommendations since. Last year, city council updated the city’s strategic vision to be both the best place to raise a child — and to age successfully.
Burlington’s plan says the city is “in the midst of a considerable demographic shift marked by the growing proportion of adults 55plus. Over the next decade, population growth among older adults is expected to continue to outpace that of youth and adults.”
Older adults now make up 32 per cent of Burlington’s population, but are expected to make up 35 per cent, or 76,000 people, by 2026 — making for a projected increase of 71 per cent between 2006 and 2026. In contrast, the youth and adult segments are projected to increase by 14 and 18 per cent respectively.
“It’s not unlike what’s happening in most communities across Canada,” said Newnham. “We happen to
be slightly higher in Burlington now.”
The Burlington plan is preparing for that growth and building on what is already in place for older adults, Newnham said.
“We know the social connections are the most critical,” she said.
Social connections, being physically active and finding services that are affordable are critical to how people can age well, she added.
The plan seeks to help adults keep their independence as they age.