Age Friendly Communities was developed by the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (now based at Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging) and community partners.
To start building your age-friendly community we have some tasks and questions to get you thinking.
Define your community
This will help you determine who the key players are and who needs to be involved. According to Pedlar, Haworth et al, 1999, community has a broad definition and can mean different things to different people including:
- A group of individuals with common interests or concerns
- A group of individuals working within a specific organization
- Groups or organizations within a community area that they serve
- A business or group of businesses wanting to better meet their customers’ needs
- A geographical community such as a region, municipality, town, city, or neighbourhood
What ‘hat’ are you wearing?
Before getting started, think about the many roles that exist within your organization or community. Consider the following:
- What perspectives need to be involved in the planning of an age-friendly community?
- What role do you hold? What roles are missing?
- Whom could you collaborate to create a stronger age-friendly community?
Some groups/members/roles you may want to consider including in your committee include:
- Citizens, clients, or customers and their family members or care partners
- Staff who work directly with citizens, clients, or customers
- Community or organizational leaders, policy and decision makers
- Groups or organizations that plan and advocate for healthy community design, sustainable, and walkable communities
- Public health professionals who work in areas such as injury and falls prevention, physical activity, healthy communities, or health and the built environment
- Private and not-for-profit service providers in health, transportation, housing, or other sectors
- Planners – municipal, not-for-profit, or private
Define your purpose for becoming age-friendly
- Start a group brainstorm on why your community wants to become age-friendly and the benefits of building an age-friendly community
- Use these benefits to initiate discussion
- Develop targets for your community
- What is the mission and goals of your group?
- What is your collective vision of a truly age-friendly community?
One step at a time!
Below are specific steps your community may take on the path to becoming more age-friendly! Each community is unique so you may need to come up with additional steps, but these will serve as great guidelines! Click on on Expand All to see more information about each step.
Stage 1: Setting the stage for change
- Form a steering committee of the relevant stakeholders
- See our Creating your steering community (PDF) resource to determine who should be on your committee and how/where you can find members
- Identify key assets for your committee
- See our Exploring your team’s assets (PDF) resource to see how you can apply these skills and resources of each individual to your age-friendly community
- Determine the ‘readiness’ of your community
- See the Is your community ready? resource to determine the social, structural, economic, and sustainability factors that go into building an age-friendly community
Stage 2: Clarifying values and objectives
- Determine what values will guide your age-friendly community initiative
- Use our Guiding principles to help you along this stage
- Define the scope and scale of your age-friendly community initiative
- How big will the project be? What community sectors will be involved?
- Develop a ‘terms of reference’ to define the project, committee, expectations, and ground rules
- Use the Age-friendly Manitoba Sample terms of reference resource as a guideline for your terms of reference
Stage 3: Assessing your community
- Collect information from community members about needs, wants and preferences by creating community conversations
- Use our Building block dialogue starter activity to get the discussion started with these reflective questions
- Use our Facilitating a world café resource to discover how to use a World Café style to being conversations between members or the community at large
- Use our Ideas for capturing stories resource to learn ways to share community stories and why stories are a powerful tool when building your age-friendly community
- Use our Tips for using Photo Voice resource to learn how to incorporate photography into the discussion and why photos can be a powerful tool when building your age-friendly community
- Use our Tips for facilitating focus groups resource to gain tips and tricks on how to hold a productive focus group
- Use our Tips for developing questionnaires resource to learn how to create an effective questionnaire or use the “Sample Questionnaire” as a guideline
- Determining your community’s strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats (SWOT)
- Use our SWOT Analysis using the building blocks (PDF) resource to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of building an age-friendly community
- Create partnerships to build upon what is already being done in your community
- Use our Identifying and mobilizing community sector partners (PDF) resource to help you determine who are the key community members are and determine and collect contact information
Stage 4: Determining goals and developing a strategic plan
- Determine what systems are in place within your community that already work to improve the quality of life for older adults and how you can improve these systems
- Identify short, mid and long-term goals toward becoming age-friendly
- Use our Goal setting (PDF) resource to break down your goals into tangible steps and delegate tasks
- Communicate your goals and progress to the larger community
- For more information visit the Building blocks section of our website
Stage 5: Implementing your plan
- Identify the tools and resources needed to support the implementation of each strategy
- Review your progress, make appropriate adaptations, and redefine your strategy or goals
Key points about becoming age-friendly
- Creating an age-friendly community does not happen overnight; it takes time and commitment to initiate real change.
- Be sure to recognize and celebrate the small successes that will be achieved along the way.
- Involve older adults in all stages of the process including planning, implementing and decision-making.
- This is the key to creating an age-friendly community!
Tips for navigating our website
- Click Guiding principles to learn about the foundation on which you will build your age-friendly community.