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Fact Sheet – Municipalities and the Aging Population

MUNICIPALITIES AND THE AGING POPULATION

The proportion of Canada’s population over the age of 65 will increase from 13% in 2006 to 22% in 2026. The aging of the population will bring a corresponding significant increase in the number of seniors with mental health problems and illnesses.

Because of their responsibilities for transportation, the built environment, social housing, and in some jurisdictions long-term care, community services, recreation, and other services, municipalities have a large role to play in improving the mental health of seniors.

THE FACTS

  • While cognitive impairments, including dementias, encompass many of the mental health problems and illnesses faced by seniors, other problems, especially mood disorders and substance abuse, are equally prevalent.
  • Vulnerable older adults and seniors with reduced mobility are not just at higher risk of poor physical health but also of poor mental health.
  • Isolation is an important risk factor for poor mental health of seniors.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Consult the MHCC’s Guidelines for Comprehensive Mental Health Services for Older Adults in Canada for details about housing and community services planning considerations.
  • Use The Seniors’ Mental Health Policy Lens Toolkit when planning changes to municipal programs and policies.
  • Expand the availability of affordable supported housing that will meet the unique needs of an aging population.
  • Make your municipality an age-friendly community, including paying attention to safety issues and how the built environment and transportation encourage mobility.
  • Involve seniors in the planning of community and recreation services that meet their needs.

A broad range of efforts is needed to promote the mental health of seniors…Age-friendly communities facilitate access to appropriate housing and transportation and contribute to reducing the risk of social isolation. (Changing Directions, Changing Lives: the Mental Health Strategy for Canada).

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