Helping seniors ‘age in the right place’

A plan recently approved by York Regional Council promises to help seniors “age in the right place” based on their preferences, circumstances and care needs.

While many seniors remain healthy, active and connected to their communities, some require additional levels of care and support, the region notes. The 2024 to 2027 York Region Plan to Support Seniors: Navigating Forward Together identifies four priorities that include keeping seniors healthy longer.

The goal of that priority is to provide seniors, caregivers and staff supporting seniors with information to help them improve physical activity and social connectedness and slow the decline of or prevent chronic disease. Among other things, the region will call on the provincial government to provide annual health professional in-home or supported virtual visits for seniors aged 75 years and older.

The Plan to Support Seniors will also prioritize supporting seniors to live in age-friendly, complete communities by better integrating services for seniors. In addition to other things, the region plans to complete the design and construction and operationalize the seniors’ hub and community centre located in Unionville Commons.

The region’s plan to connect seniors and caregivers to the right programs and services at the right times includes promoting Access York to seniors and caregivers as a central access point for York Region and community resources. Finally, it will achieve the fourth priority of improving coordination, organization and planning of services for seniors through such actions as implementing the York Region Integrated Response for Vulnerable Seniors Network.

Some 200,000 seniors aged 65 years and older live in York Region. That’s an increase of more than 23 per cent since 2016, when York Region Seniors Strategy: Thinking Ahead was approved to support seniors to age in place in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. By 2051, York’s total seniors’ population is projected to more than double.

About 97 per cent of seniors in York live in private dwellings within the community. The region’s senior population is diverse: 76 per cent were born outside of Canada and about 18 per cent don’t speak either English or French. The top five non-official languages spoken most often at home are Cantonese, Italian, Mandarin, Russian and Tamil. Of almost 54,000 newcomers settling in York Region in last five years, approximately 5,400 were seniors.

The region is planning progress reports of the Plan to Support Seniors in 2026 and 2028 and will provide council with a review and plan update for consideration in 2028.

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