Our Future is Aging: Advancing Knowledge Series
The Issue – Healthy aging is influenced by individual and societal level actions
Healthy aging is integral to living well. However, the 2015 World Health Organization World Report on Ageing and Health suggests that although there may be global population aging, not everyone who is living longer is supported in living a healthy, dignified life. System level factors such as ageism and our social and physical environments can be barriers to living safely, enjoying good health and staying involved. Local communities and governments are exploring how to add life to years, and better support the individual health and social participation of older adults.
NSCA Contribution to Understanding the Issue…
The NSCA has been actively engaged in research, evaluation and program planning and implementation responsive to the individual, community, and system level factors that support healthy and active aging. Through this work, the NSCA has contributed to public and provider understanding of the importance of a positive attitude toward aging, and to generating evidence in support of planning policies, services and structures that are designed to enable older people to “age actively”.
Fountain of Health Fountain of Health (FoH) is an initiative involving different health and community organizations aimed at educating the public about the science of healthy aging. It is embedded in positive psychiatry of aging, an emerging science and practice of enhancing positive psychosocial health and wellbeing over the lifespan. FoHinitiative promotes a public awareness campaign and offers practical tools for clinicians to use with patients to promote changes in outlook and health behaviours. Since its inception in 2010, NSCA has been a collaborating partner of the initiative helping to guide the initiative’s work and sharing out resources to public and practitioners.
Age-Friendly Communities The NSCA has been at the forefront of age-friendly cities and communities consultations, research, and implementation initiatives in Nova Scotia and abroad. Its age-friendly work was formalized in 2006 through involvement in a World Health Organization study involving 33 cities worldwide, including Halifax, which identified eight key domains which can help communities to be more age-friendly. Extending the scope of its activities beyond Halifax, the NSCA shifted its focus to rural communities when involved in a Canadian initiative to apply the learnings from the Cities project to rural and remote communities. These projects led to the development of guides and tools to support communities becoming more age-friendly. More specific to Nova Scotia, NSCA in collaboration with Department of Seniors, worked with more than 10 municipalities to support an age-friendly strategic planning process (e.g., community profile, community consultation, action plans). NSCA also produced brochures and hosted a Webinar on key messages about age-friendly communities work to support community planning in Nova Scotia to inform local community and health services policy and practice.
What We’ve Learned….
Healthy aging is much more than one’s physical health and is influenced by one’s outlook on aging, societal views about aging and the extent to which there are opportunities for older adults to remain engaged in family/community. Individuals have the capacity to optimize their health and happiness through five simple actions (positive thinking, social activity, physical activity, supporting good mental health, engage in lifelong learning).
· Access to transportation, appropriate housing and health and support services are key to enabling people to age well in their homes and their communities.
· There is a need for communities to invest in organizations and programs that promote inclusion and social participation to prevent social isolation and to ensure that seniors who are aging in place have the highest quality of life possible.
· Using an age-friendly communities lens will help ensure policy and programs support people to “age actively”.
National Seniors Council Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors
World Health Organization “Towards an Age-Friendly World” Initiative
Age-Friendly Communities Canada Hub
Age-Friendly Communities’ Knowledge Sharing Series:
Fountain of Health Tools and Resources
Debunking myths about depression in later life;
Why isn’t Dad Fishing Anymore? Seniors and Depression: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-ps-zi_pV