What does having an age friendly community mean? What do we need to do to achieve it?
The council recently met with our Age Friendly Communities Committee which conducted research to find the gaps and issues we need to address to achieve the status of an Age Friendly Community.
One of the many issues identified was the need for better public transport with accessible busses and the return of passenger rail, essential for people with mobility issues. We need to be more pedestrian-friendly in our streets and our CBD.
Wellbeing of older people is enhanced when they feel acknowledged and respected, and inclusion and connectivity is vital to an older person’s health, both emotional and physical. Engagement in volunteering, sporting clubs, socials clubs and educational pursuits are so important in keeping people connected and active
Participation in leisure, social, cultural and spiritual activities helps older people stay engaged, informed and motivated. A great example of this is the University of the 3rd Age (U3A), educating and inspiring our older community.
Another way to involve older people is through Grandparents’ Day and other opportunities to engage with primary school or kindergarten-aged children. The benefits for both are invaluable.
Housing for older people is also an issue with more affordable quality housing, and more home maintenance services required, and more nursing homes and aged care facilities needed closer to where people live.
Isolation of older people is a huge problem and as a society we need to more vigilant and check on our older neighbours.
The need for safe, accessible outdoor environments and public spaces was another area identified by our committee, with a need for more seating in our CBD and more shade, green space and more use of the Wimmera River precinct.
Having older people represented in our political processes and in volunteering organisations are also important in any decision-making process.
We must avoid stereotyping older people and respect the enormous amount of expertise and experience they have gained. This is the largest, fastest-growing sector of our community, making it a very high priority for the council.
Cr Pam Clarke is mayor of Horsham Rural City Council.