About this project

This community-engaged study explored the relationships between seniors’ perceptions of the age-friendliness of their city and quality of life within two retirement communities in Ottawa, Ontario. Building on the concept of ‘aging in place’ and the World Health Organization’s eight indicators of age-friendly cities, a mixed-methods approach combined survey data collection (N=51) and focus groups (N=21) to investigate age-friendliness and quality of life (QOL) “through seniors’ eyes”. As expected, our survey data revealed multiple positive relationships between the age-friendly community indicators and QOL. In particular, social participation and housing were found to be the key indicators that were associated with perceived quality of life amongst the study participants. Moreover, social participation continued to be the most important indicator within the qualitative phases of the study. Family and friends, aging in a familiar community, and physical/information accessibility emerged as the three major themes related to enhanced social participation for older adults, and thus, are imperative to enhancing quality of life. In addition, both the survey data and focus group discussions indicated that each of the eight age-friendly indicators was interrelated. Therefore, allocating resources to improve one aspect of age-friendliness may not yield substantial impact if not coupled with acknowledgment and attention towards the relationships among the indicators themselves. Taken together, our findings suggest that while quantitative measures are useful for establishing initial associations between age-friendliness and QOL, the intricate relationships between these factors are only discoverable by involving seniors in the assessment in meaningful, qualitative ways.