The suburbs – they’re spacious, more affordable, and home to approximately 66% of Canadians. But are they “age-friendly”?

A recent report from the Institute for Research on Public Policy looks at the implications of seniors living in the suburbs. And the report’s author, Gary Miller, has come to the conclusion that, “our current suburbs are no place to grow old”.

For the most part, this conclusion is due to the car-dependency that suburban sprawl has created. With rows upon rows of houses, and fewer parks, services and medical centers close by, losing the ability to drive can be seriously detrimental.

suburbs, skyscrapersBut beyond the driving aspect, there is also social isolation. When neighbours are working full time jobs with long commutes, there is little time to chit chat, much less volunteer or engage with the community. Or the flip side, if they are home like yourself, but you both can’t or don’t drive, where is there to go? What is there to do? And how or where do you meet people experiencing similar life situations?

Amintro is the social app that connects those 50 plus with like-minded people in the community. We are not a dating site. Instead, we foster good old-fashioned friendships.

Following years of research and with the help of numerous wonderful partnerships, Amintro has developed a process, based on input from experts in the field of sociology and mature adults, which helps you build a safe, private online profile that reflects who you are as a friend – and what you consider important characteristics in your friends, based on your personal experiences, likes and dislikes.

Much research has been done on loneliness, isolation and the health benefits of friendship. The more we can do to prevent feelings of isolation, especially in seniors, the better off society will be as a whole.

Since the report came out, many provinces and the Public Health Agency of Canada have said they supported the outlined principles and would make a commitment to become more age-friendly. But what does that entail?

Dan Leeming, an urban planner with the Planning Partnership in Toronto, thinks it should start with three basic questions:

Where can I walk to in two minutes? In five minutes? In 10 minutes?

He says people should be able to walk to a parkette in two minutes, and the bus stop in five — calling these the building blocks of sustainability and community livability.

If you or someone you know are looking to move, those are great points to consider. And if you are happy staying where you are, consider alternative means of staying connected.

Everyone benefits from socialization and friendship; and if you aren’t sure where or how to get started, let Amintro help. You can join for free here or learn more about us, our community and how to become an Amintronian by following us on Twitter: @AmintroFriends, or liking us on Facebook: AmintroFriends.

By Christine Tompa