It seems every time I read an article with an innovative idea on aging in place I realize the masthead is a newspaper in a Canadian province.  Why is Canada on the more progressive side when it comes to taking care of and projecting into the future for its seniors? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that  26-32% of its rural population is already over the age of 65. Or that there is a spirit of real experimentation for progressive change in its larger cities. 

 

In addition the socialized healthcare system takes care of one of the biggest  challenges of getting older, accessing  and affording medical services. In regard to affordable housing and socially connected communities and transportation, they are not where they want to be yet…but they are steadily moving towards it. It takes strong community awareness and participation to make the right changes as this age tide rises.

 

If you want to take a peak at how they foster a real grassroots community with strong participation in deciding for themselves what is best, take a look at a small town meeting just south of Calgary: http://www.innisfailprovince.ca/article/Packed-house-for-first-election-forum-20171003The candidates for local government are answering to many issues about economic development, affordable housing and transportation services.  They are also debating about having the automated garbage collector come to their front doors so the seniors do not have to drag their trash to the curb. Now that is senior power!

 

If you look on the US Housing and Urban Development website, attempts to  make affordable senior housing a reality have been sporadic at best, dismal at worse.  Lack of private investment because there is not enough profit is tantamount to failure when “affordable housing” is discussed. The need for starter homes and I guess you would call them last act homes is becoming more urgent.

I am starting a search for US communities that have been able to achieve this and I will highlight them as I find them. In an earlier blog I talked about a self run mobile home community in Florida: http://waystostay.org/little-houses-on-the-prairie/

But with changes in climate, being a snow bird who lands permanently in Florida or Arizona (two of the biggest retirement states)  may be hazardous to your futureMeanwhile back to our neighbors to the north.  I recently talked with a woman who visits Canada  frequently and she says they are turning Americans back at the airport who come hoping to emigrate to a kinder gentler country?  Get back on the plane is the polite but stern order.

Given their forward thinking on zoning, allocating resources and creating more resident centered senior housing, we will just be able to view from a distance. As America’s largest older generation matures with a lack of affordable senior housing and a constantly threatened social safety net, we can at least keep an eye on Canada and other countries as they progress into a clearer vision of the future.