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How ‘age-friendly’ are rural communities and what community characteristics are related to age-friendliness? The case of rural Manitoba, Canada

  • VERENA H. MENEC (a1) (a2), LOUISE HUTTON (a2), NANCY NEWALL (a1) (a2), SCOTT NOWICKI (a2), JOHN SPINA (a2) and DAWN VESELYUK (a2)...

Abstract

Since the World Health Organization introduced the concept of ‘age-friendly’ communities in 2006, there has been rapidly growing interest in making communities more age-friendly on the part of policy makers world-wide. There is a paucity of research to date, however, that has examined age-friendliness in diverse communities, particularly in rural communities. The main objective of the study reported in this paper was to examine whether age-friendliness varies across community characteristics, such as a population size. The study was based on surveys administered in 56 communities throughout Manitoba, a mid-Western Canadian province, in the context of a needs assessment process for communities that are part of the Age-Friendly Manitoba Initiative. A total of 1,373 individuals completed a survey developed to measure age-friendliness. Domains included the physical environment; housing options; the social environment; opportunities for participation; community supports and health-care services; transportation options; and communication and information. Community characteristics were derived from census data. Multi-level regression analysis indicated that the higher the percentage of residents aged 65 or older, the higher the ratings of age-friendliness overall and, specifically, ratings of the social environment, opportunities for participation, and communication and information. Moreover, small communities located within a census metropolitan area and remote communities in the far north of the province emerged as having the lowest age-friendliness ratings. These findings suggest that communities are generally responsive to the needs of their older residents. That different results were obtained for the various age-friendly domains underscores the importance of considering age-friendliness in a holistic way and measuring it in terms of a range of community features. Our study further highlights the importance of differentiating between degrees of rurality, as different patterns emerged for communities of different sizes and proximity to a larger urban centre.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Verena Menec, Department of Community Health Sciences, The University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, R3E 0W3, Canada. E-mail: verena.menec@med.umanitoba.ca

References

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Keywords

How ‘age-friendly’ are rural communities and what community characteristics are related to age-friendliness? The case of rural Manitoba, Canada

  • VERENA H. MENEC (a1) (a2), LOUISE HUTTON (a2), NANCY NEWALL (a1) (a2), SCOTT NOWICKI (a2), JOHN SPINA (a2) and DAWN VESELYUK (a2)...

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