What is the Age-friendly municipalities approach?
The Age-Friendly Municipalities approach stems from the idea of the Age-Friendly Cities program (AFC) launched in 2005 at the 18th World Congress of Gerontology, organized by the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since then, Canada, and more particularly Quebec play a very active role in its development and its implementation.
An age-friendly city encourages active ageing by optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. In practical terms, an age-friendly city adapts its structures and services to be accessible to and inclusive of older people with varying needs and capacities. To understand the characteristics of an age-friendly city, it is essential to go to the source – older city dwellers. OMS (2007:1)
An AFM or an AFC approach?
The AFM designation is used for the Quebec program and the approach taken in Quebec.
The AFC designation is often chosen when the approach is set in the international context.
The AFC-QC designation refers to the research of the seven pilot projects carried out in Quebec from 2008 to 2013.
This section of the site aims to present the context and the theoretical underpinnings on which relies the Age-Friendly Municipalities approach in Quebec.
The phenomenon of the aging population
Quebec is characterized by a rapid demographic aging, making it the second fastest aging country worldwide after Japan. In 2006, seniors of 65 years and over accounted for 14% of the population, in the year 2020, they will represent 21%, and in 2030, they will account for more than one third of the population (27 %).
Seniors of 65 years and over
Even if the urbanization of populations is in constant progress, the AFM approach aims to enlighten the conditions of aging both in urban and rural areas. For more information on the effects that will have the demographic aging on municipalities, please refer to the report released in 2004 by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Sports and Recreation entitled: « Les effets du vieillissement de la population québécoise sur la gestion des affaires et des services municipaux »*.
Seniors must live in an environment that will enable them to continue to pursue an active life. The Global Age-Friendly Cities: A Guide produced by the World Health Organization (WHO, 2007) proposes ways for adapting living environments to the seniors’ needs. This global guide is the product of an extensive international research project representing all the continents and which had been carried out in 33 cities throughout the world (including Sherbrooke). The Canadian government has also produced a document for the rural communities “Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities: A Guide”.
* “The Effects of the Quebec’s Aging Population on Local Governance and Municipal Service Management”
Context of the Quebec’s aging population
The importance of considering seniors’ needs at the municipal level has to be seen within the context of the aging population and joined all the municipalities for which the issues surrounding this reality are different. Seniors are a heterogeneous group with needs, capacities and various interests, but most of them wish to remain at home as long as possible.