Between 2011 and 2016, the number of people aged 85 and older grew by 19.4%—nearly four times the rate for the overall Canadian population.[i] Projections suggest that by 2036, one-quarter of our population will be 65 or older. As this demographic grows, so does the importance of access to timely, relevant and accessible information around aging and planning for healthy aging.
In March, BC Healthy Communities visited the East Shore of Kootenay Lake to bring together several of the neighbouring communities—Riondel, Crawford Bay, Boswell, and Grey Creek—who have experienced population shifts that have increased the median age in their communities. Over the course of two days, BC Healthy Communities led a series of workshops offering important concepts from their Aging Well program, and an exciting new program currently in pilot. The Aging Well workshop included a panel of speakers who presented on the topics of transportation, finance, social connectedness, housing and well-being. BC Healthy Communities’ Executive Director Jodi Mucha facilitated an asset mapping and planning session to establish a sense of where the communities were at, and where they could get to with a little help. This exercise focused on ways to bring the communities together for a collaborative approach toward aging, and provided a place of discussion for the new pilot program.
Originally from a small rural community herself, Mucha is well aware of the increasing challenges these unique communities face. “I am so inspired by the energy, spirit, and enthusiasm of these community members and the opportunity to work with them on this pilot project we are embarking on,” she said.
One of the key community champions involved in this initiative, Laverne Booth from Riondel, had great praise for BC Healthy Communities’ approach to program design, particularly their emphasis on asset-based community development. “We are so pleased that we have this opportunity to pilot this initiative with BC Healthy Communities,” said Booth. “I especially appreciate working with you [Mucha], because of the great design of this program, and we will enjoy working together as a broader community, all along the East Shore.”
Stay tuned for more information about the further launch of this program.