This graphic shows the results of an Age-Friendly survey conducted in Houston this summer. It captures the types of transportation local seniors will want to use in ten years.

Older adults share ideas for making Houston more age-friendly

"When you improve a community for seniors, it results in a community that's better for everyone," said Jessica Blewett to Houston council.

“When you improve a community for seniors, it results in a community that’s better for everyone,” said Jessica Blewett to Houston council last Tuesday.

Blewett is the Principal Consultant for  Western Canada Accessibility and Enablement Consulting and in the middle stages of developing an Age-Friendly Plan for Houston.

She said improving age-friendliness benefits all people, providing intergenerational programs and improving infrastructure, which helps parents with strollers or people with disabilities as well as seniors.

Blewett presented to council the findings of an age-friendly survey, which will be the basis for the Age-Friendly Plan to be finished in September.

The survey represented 67 households and 120 people, with 55 percent over the age of 65.

It covered transportation, housing, health and social engagement.




“Most people walk and drive in Houston now… but over the next ten years the people who see themselves driving falls from 58 households to 34,” Blewett said.

Survey respondents listed a variety of other transportation services they wanted, with most (42 people) wanting a reliable taxi service.

There were 27 who wanted transportation to local medical appointments, and 25 to regional appointments. Public transit was desired by 22 people and 17 wanted accessible door-to-door pick up service.

Roadways was another issue, which Blewett said is integral for an age-friendly community.

Only 26 percent of respondents feel that roads are well maintained, but walking areas got a much better grade, with 46 percent saying walkways were in good shape.

“That’s something to consider over the long term,” Blewett said.

Blewett said respondents “feel pretty safe” in Houston, with 95 percent saying they felt safe walking in the day.

As far as access to businesses, Blewett said 91 percent said felt they could access the Houston businesses.



Only 12 percent of those surveyed planned to leave Houston to retire, Blewett said, adding that there are concerns about housing for those people.

“Only 21 percent of respondents said they didn’t have stairs in their homes,” Blewett said, adding that stairs, large homes and repair needs are often issues for people as they age.

The survey looked at what type of housing people would want into the future, and in ten years those not looking for housing dropped significantly.

Blewett said that right now ten people are looking for seniors housing, in five years 16 people expect to need seniors housing, and in ten years 28 people.

Most people want seniors independent living units, but in ten years there’s desire for all types of seniors housing, especially seniors independent living, subsidized supportive housing, assisted living, and complex care.



Most seniors who did the survey claimed to have good or very good health, but Blewett said 38 percent had at least one person in their household with a mobility challenge.

“Support networks in Houston are excellent,” Blewett said, adding that 86 percent of respondants said they have family or friends to count on in times of need.

“The main area of concern here is the perception of health care,” she said

As far as health services, the survey found that 59 percent of respondents didn’t feel that the health services here are sufficient for their needs.

Blewett said figuring out how to slowly build on the existing health services will be important for the future.

The top four health services respondents wanted for Houston were home care, optometrist services, nursing care and visiting services for isolated individuals.

For community services, respondents said their top needs were winter yard work, delivery of goods and groceries, house cleaning and summer yard work.




When seniors were asked what social activities are important for them, most listed coffee and tea socials, games events, live music nights, luncheons, and art classes.

“The good thing here is that a lot of these are already available in some capacity in Houston, so it’s just a matter of maintaining these,” said Blewett.

The top four sports activities seniors wanted in Houston were seniors indoor and outdoor walking programs, gentle yoga and seniors hiking.

For education programs, seniors wanted computer courses, healthy living seminars, internet search courses, dementia care information and cooking classes.

Blewett said one issue here was that many people didn’t know what was offered in Houston, so better communication could be something to consider for the future.


Summing up the findings of the survey and not denying that there are some “big ticket items,” Blewett said Houston is quite age-friendly comparative to a lot of places.

As far as improvements, “sometimes the things that make a really big difference are the little things, from having new sources of information to having programs where seniors and youth get together,” she said.

“Focusing on age-friendliness can be a really good community resilience strategy,” she added, noting that resource-based towns rely on benefits of retaining seniors to make it through the economic cycles.

The Age-Friendly Plan for Houston will be finished in September, including specific recommendations and strategies for moving forward.


Just Posted

Bulkley Valley SD 54 superintendent leaving

Chris van der Mark has been superintendent with SD54 for eight years, and has hands full in Cariboo.

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

Houston property assessments nudge up

District now working on 2019 spending plans

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Suspended B.C. legislature officers accused of ‘flagrant overspending’

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Alberta youth charged over theft of $17,000 in snow equipment at B.C. ski resort

Alberta RCMP recovered $17,000 in skis/snowboards believed stolen from Fernie Alpine Resort Saturday

China demands U.S. drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

Hua said China demands that the U.S. withdraw the arrest warrant against Meng Wanzhou

Giant ice disk equipped with webcam after surviving storm

Westbrook official Tina Radel says the livestream was requested by Brown University

Ousted B.C. legislature officials say report released to further blacken their reputations

James and Lenz say release was ‘Contrary to all principles of fairness and decent treatment’

B.C. animators land Oscar nominations

‘Animal Behaviour’ by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden among several Canadians on the short list

B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

Auto shop apologizes after B.C. employees disrespect memorial convoy

Mr. Lube staff members suspended after incident Sunday in Nanaimo

Most Read