This profile is predicated on the assumptions of the diversity of the older population living in rural and remote Canada and the diversity of the communities themselves. The profile is constructed around four major themes: being older and living in rural and remote parts of Canada; the challenges and barriers to living in rural and remote areas; social inclusion, engagement, and ageism; and food and income security.1 The concluding section emphasizes directions that need to be taken and knowledge gaps.
The people in general and the older population in particular living in rural and remote communities share a set of characteristics that distinguish them from the urban population of Canada (DesMeules et al, 2011). There are higher proportions of low-income people and older people, higher proportions of people and older people with less education, as well as higher rates of smoking, obesity, and mortality. On a more positive note, it is argued that people in general and older people in particular have a stronger sense of community belonging than their counterparts living in urban Canada (DesMeules et al, 2011). Focusing only on older people, Keating and Eales (2011) paint a more nuanced picture of older people living in rural and remote communities contrasting ‘community active and stoic seniors’ who have the resources to age well and ‘marginalized seniors’ whose health is poor, who live on low incomes, and have poor social connections. A fourth group, ‘frail seniors’, are mainly described in terms of their status and higher service needs.
Looking back to the 1990s, Joseph and Cloutier-Fisher (2005) characterized older people living in small-town and rural Canada as ‘vulnerable people living in vulnerable places’.
The chapters and vignettes in this book are very much reflected in my and my wife’s life stories, and those of our parents, and grandparents. Our grandparents came to Canada at the beginning of the twentieth century. At the time, more than half the population of Canada lived in small towns and rural communities. Audrey’s grandparents ended up in the Okanagan Valley on her father’s side and in Alberta on her mother’s side. On her father’s side, the family faced the racism that was prevalent against anyone coming from Japan in the case of her grandparents and later, racism that all members of the family faced as Japanese Canadians. My grandparents ended up in Toronto and Hamilton. As Jewish immigrants from Germany, Poland, and Russia, they faced the antisemitism of the times even after they and their children (my parents and uncles and aunts) became Canadian citizens. In his final years, Audrey’s father moved back to the Okanagan Valley near where he grew up and where most of Audrey’s family still live. Audrey’s mother and stepfather aged in place in their home just outside of Kelowna. In recent years, it became apparent that they could no longer look after themselves and now live in assisted living. As their youngest son and after I left for university, my father and mother moved to a new house and lived there until he passed away. Soon after, my mother moved into a community for older people that had apartment buildings, communal dining rooms, various amenities, and a nursing home for those who could no longer live independently.
This chapter discusses the case of informal and voluntary home care in Canada to shed light on the complex link between voluntarism and health. Data from Statistics Canada’s National Population Health Survey and National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating are used to illustrate the link between healthcare and voluntarism. The results of the of broad-scale survey at national, regional and subprovincial (metropolitan, urban and rural) levels provides an empirical basis for understanding the ascendancy of voluntary organisations, community groups, and volunteers as major players in the local organisation and delivery of healthcare services.
How well do the places where we live support the wellbeing of older adults?
The Canadian population is growing older and is reshaping the nation’s economic, social and cultural future. However, the built and social environments of many communities, neighbourhoods and cities have not been designed to help Canadians age well.
Bringing together academic research, practitioner reflections and personal narratives from older adults across Canada, this cutting-edge text provides a rare spotlight on the local implications of aging in Canadian cities and communities. It explores employment, housing, transportation, cultural safety, health, planning and more, to provide a wide-ranging and comprehensive discussion of how to build supportive communities for Canadians of all ages.
In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and across Canada, an aging demographic is changing the way communities function. We are faced as well by an increasingly diverse community, where identities, abilities, and lived experiences stand to impact the ways in which older adults interact both socially and physically with the urban environment (Rosenberg and Everitt, 2001; Kobayashi et al, 2011). While aging changes the experience of daily life, the intersection of age and diversity can compound these experiences, subjecting older adults to a ‘double jeopardy’ (Rosenberg and Everitt, 2001) in accessing important spaces, services, and opportunities for health and wellbeing.
Popularized by the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Cities Guide (2007), age-friendly community development encompasses an approach to the physical, social, and political fabric of cities that includes a careful consideration of older adult lived experience (Greenfield et al, 2015). Beyond the more traditional age-friendly service pillars of housing, transportation, healthcare, and recreation, age-friendly development theory has included consideration of social capital as a foundational component to healthy and sustainable aging infrastructure (Buffel et al, 2012; Lager et al, 2015). Fostered through social networks and the physical proximity to others of similar circumstances, social capital – particularly as it relates to older adults – can encourage an improved sense of community belonging, wellbeing, and support (Putnam, 1995).
We pose the question: What would an age-friendly community look like for older adults who belong to the most marginalized groups in society? This chapter examines the experiences of two of the most at-risk or isolated communities among the overall older adult population in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; namely, members of the LGBTQ community, and those experiencing physical or cognitive frailty.