The latest WHO / IFA webinar, ‘Rural and Remote Age-friendly Communities’ was presented by Dr Verena Menec of the Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, College of Medicine at the University of Manitoba.
In this webinar, Dr Menec examined the difference between rural and remote environments, explaining that remote environments are more isolated from population centres than rural ones. She went on to say that although populations tend to emigrate from rural areas to cities, many people still live in rural communities, including 42% of Canadians 60 years or older. That is why it is necessary to make sure that these environments are adapted to the needs of older people, and enable older people to live independently.
According to the WHO, age-friendliness can be measured in eight domains: outdoor spaces and building; transportation; housing; respect and social inclusion; social participation; communication and information; civil participation and employment; community support and health services. Dr. Menec talked about the challenges that rural and remote communities face in becoming age-friendly based on these domains, for example geographic distances, small budgets or lack of political will. Dr Menec was also quick to mention the strengths of rural and remote communities, as these communities tend to have strong social ties, self-reliance, and local leaders who are more publically accessible. Dr Menec concluded that rural and remote areas have distinctive requirements to become age-friendly that need to be addressed by policies.
Most of the questions and comments concerned ways to attract attention from policy-makers, and to better implement age-friendly measures. Through this question and answer period, Dr Menec provided not only answers but food for thought by inviting additional dialogue, ideas and comments from attendees.
The IFA appreciates the participation of age-friendly experts and enthusiasts in the WHO / IFA webinar series, and will be forthcoming with details of webinars set to occur in 2018.
To be part of ongoing developments in the IFA’s work on age-friendly, and to receive and make contributions to the upcoming age-friendly newsletter, register your interest here or contact Jessica Rochman-Fowler (firstname.lastname@example.org).