April 24, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The province is on-board with a national movement to promote healthy aging and age-friendly communities, Minister of State for Seniors Brian Kenny said today.
"New Brunswick's senior population is expected to double over the next 20 years," Kenny said. "Like other provinces, we are preparing for the demographic challenge that lies ahead. Of the 107,000 New Brunswickers who are now over the age of 65, about 85 per cent are living independently. That's a good sign for what we want to achieve in the future."
Across the country, seniors, community organizations, stakeholders, and government representatives are meeting to discuss and promote healthy, active living for seniors, and the creation of age-friendly communities that value and support the contributions of older citizens. Within a decade, Canadians over 65 will outnumber children under 15. By 2021, one in five Canadians will be over 65.
To deal with its aging population, the province is implementing its long-term care strategy, Be Independent Longer, which builds on a foundation of health and wellness promotion, as well as support for families and assistance to help seniors live independently for as long as possible.
"A key element in this strategy is to encourage seniors to be healthy, active and independent for as long as they can so that the demand for support services or nursing home beds does not become unsustainable," said Kenny. "At the same time, seniors who take charge of their health enjoy an improved quality of life. They are happier and healthier and able to contribute to their families, their communities and their own independence and well-being far into their later years. This is the vision we have for seniors in New Brunswick."
As the population ages, communities are being encouraged to look at outdoor spaces, buildings, transportation, housing, respect and social inclusion for seniors, and community and health services which answer needs and provide opportunities for senior citizens. These age-friendly communities are created when all levels of government, service providers, the volunteer sector, seniors, caregivers and business leaders work together.
"In age-friendly communities, seniors are able to move and travel safely, enjoy good health and participate in society," said Kenny. "They can be urban or rural communities where the contributions of seniors are valued and supported by the community."
Like other provinces, New Brunswick is encouraging communities and municipalities to get involved in the age-friendly-community concept in an effort to enhance independence and quality of life for older residents.
Kenny recently attended a federal/provincial seniors forum on healthy aging and age-friendly communities in Canada. The Fredericton meeting was one of several forums being held across the country by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Active Living Coalition for Older Adults. The Senior and Healthy Aging Secretariat organized, co-hosted and co-sponsored the event.
MEDIA CONTACT: Judy Cole, communications, Seniors Services, 506-444-3522.