Are We Aging Well?
This year the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area’s ninth Vital Signs® report looked at aging in our community. Although the national 2016 Census results reported that those 65+ outnumbered children for the first time, that occurred in Kingston and area in 2008.
The report poses five principal questions:
Are we planning well?
With a projection of 47% increase in the 65+ population by 2026 – just 10 years out – who should be concerned? Everyone! How can individuals, families, communities, and governments ensure that individually and collectively, seniors can plan to make dignified, responsible, and optimal choices for health, housing, and end-of-life?
Are we housed well? In 2013, 83% of Canadians wanted to age in their home. Public policy is encouraging “aging-in-place”; that is giving priority to older adults staying in their homes whey they age with appropriate services provided. But that might not always be the best or possible choice, and many will have to manage the transition from independent living to other arrangements. They will be confronted with a host of unfamiliar terms, bureaucracy, and perhaps a strong profit-oriented culture. It is important to be well-informed before an emergency forces a decision.
Are we healthy and well? The ways to mitigate memory loss are a perfect summary of everything you would expect to maintain good health while aging: eat well, exercise, manage any existing conditions, correct hearing and vision loss, manage medications, be socially active and make the brain work-out, too. Active aging is the goal. An active seniors’ population is an enormous community volunteer asset.
Are we dying well? Uncomfortable as the topic is, each of us will encounter the need to get our affairs in order. How and when do you make sure your wishes are explicit and known? Some of us will experience a sudden expiry, some of us will linger, but in either case it is only fair to survivors to make certain that our affairs are in order; allowing them to grieve without additional stresses. Wills, powers of attorney for finances and health care are the essential tools. Having an Advance Care Directive can enhance the quality of your end-of-life.
How well are we aging? In our area, over 60% of those 65+ stated that their sense of belonging was “somewhat strong”. And, with the huge 47% increase in seniors over the next decade, it is important to ensure that they, too, know that they “belong” as contributing members of the community – aging well.
In Vital Signs 2017 you will find a lot of data about resources for older adults in Kingston and area, some stories, some advice, and lots of questions. The report is available on line at www.cfka.org/vitalsigns or you can contact the Community Foundation at 613.546.9696 to request a copy.
Past President, Community Foundation for Kingston & Area
& Vital Signs Project Lead
Vital Signs® is a community check-up conducted by community foundations across Canada that measure the vitality of our communities and identifies significant trends in a range of areas critical to quality of life. Vital Signs is coordinated nationally by Community Foundations of Canada.
Click here for the full report and supplementary articles.