Written by: Justine Levesque
Who Am I?
My name is Justine Levesque and I will be volunteering with Hamilton Aging in Community for the next few months. I am in my last year of the Public Health Masters program at McMaster. Through this program, I have been working as a research assistant with Trent University and Age-friendly Peterborough on a project that aims to address social isolation among community-dwelling seniors during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Housing as Health
One thing that I like about Public Health is that it aims to address social factors that create health inequities. This definitely includes housing. From my perspective, health and housing cannot be separated if we are truly going to solve health problems that affect vulnerable people in our populations, including seniors. Throughout my masters and through the work with Age-friendly Peterborough I have seen how different housing models impact the health of seniors and other vulnerable populations. Essentially, if you cannot afford safe and adequate housing you are at risk of many negative health impacts while recovering from any past health problems becomes a lot more difficult when you don’t have a roof over your head.
Housing and Resilient Aging
The type of housing we live in has a big impact on our social connections and this impact becomes more pronounced as we age. For example, if you are retired, can no longer drive and you live far away from your kids and grandkids then living in a large house can start to feel very lonely and isolating. Likewise, if you’ve moved into a retirement residence in a new city where the only people you see every day are the people who work in the building this can be a very isolating experience as well. Therefore governments, organizations and individuals need to help build supportive seniors housing and supportive communities. This will provide spaces and resources for seniors to cope with challenges that come as we age.
That’s why I am very excited to see the housing models underway in Hamilton like the Symbiosis housing program through McMaster that pairs students and seniors for home-sharing throughout the school year. Likewise, CoHousing Hamilton offers an exciting opportunity for seniors to create their own community where connections and support are never far away. I am looking forward to working on projects with both Hamilton Aging in Community and CoHousing Hamilton to promote resilient aging and social connectedness. One of these projects is a 4-week course on resilient aging.
To learn more about CoHousing and resilient aging, click here.