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Making Changes > Assessing Your Community

Assessing Your Community - playing hockey on a frozen lakeWe know that people who live in an environment that encourages healthy choices will live in a healthier way.

Can you tell if your rural community encourages older adults to be regularly physically active?

You need to consider many factors. The environment, infrastructure, culture, programs and the policies of local governments, businesses and organizations all influence a person’s ability to be active at any age.

The asset mapping information and walkability checklist in this section can help you to assess all of these factors.

Asset Mapping

Asset mapping can help you to:

  • Take stock of all the good things that are happening in your community.

  • Assess whether your community encourages its older adults to be physically active.

  • Identify any gaps and ways to enhance existing opportunities or create new ones.

If you’ve lived in a rural community for a long time, you may feel that you already know your community in depth. What’s the point of doing an asset map of your community?

Asset maps help you find out what residents value. People with different backgrounds can come together to discuss what’s important in rural life.

Asset mapping:

  • Takes a positive approach to rural community development.

  • Combines community interests and creates a “common cause.”

  • Is easy and fun to do.

Asset mapping has several other advantages:

  • Realistic: Asset mapping starts with what you have rather than with what you don't have.

  • Positive: You will probably find far more assets in your community than you realized. This discovery can be a very positive way to start a dialogue.

  • Inclusive: Assets can include public, community and private assets.

Use the Community Decision-Making Toolkit to help you organize and work through an asset-mapping exercise in your community. This toolkit takes you step by step through the process, from “why bother” to concluding steps.

Walkability Checklist

This Checklist helps you assess the walkability of your community. The Checklist is a simple tool that can be used by anyone who wants to identify good walking routes and ones that need improvement.

Look around your community. Is it walkable? Is it bikeable? Are there trails, paths or sidewalks that older adults can access easily? Are they maintained? Do older adults and other residents feel safe when they’re out walking?

Take the walkability checklist (PDF, 3 pgs) with you on a walk. As you walk, think about each question. Identify any problems you see.

Remember: If you are assessing your community for its older adult friendly options, be sure to get input from the people you are targeting.

For example, when you’re trying to encourage more older adults in the area to walk by improving the town trail, ask local older adults what changes would encourage them to use the trail more.

Find out More

  • AdvantAge Initiative (Center for Home Care Policy and Research): This initiative outlines the elements of an elder-friendly community.

  • Senior Friendly (Alberta Council on Aging): This program helps communities, businesses and organizations provide services that meet the needs of the aging population.

  • Making Your Community Age Friendly: Planning for Action (Public Health Agency of Canada): This document is the third section from a larger guide called Age Friendly Rural and Remote Communities: A Guide. It contains suggestions and a checklist to help make your community age friendly.

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