Louise Plouffe brings extensive experience in aging policy within Canada and internationally with the World Health Organization in her current role as the Research Director of the International Longevity Centre (ILC) Canada. As Senior Researcher for ILC Brazil, she played a leading role in international comparative policy research and advice. She conducted and guided policy research and analyses related to healthy aging for the Public Health Agency of Canada and the National Advisory Council on Aging for many years, and was a consultant on aging and health promotion to the World Health Organization, the Pan-American Health Organization and the European Commission.
Together with Alexander Kalache, Louise led the development of WHO Age Friendly Cities initiative, which has since become a global movement, as well as the seminal report Older Persons and Emergencies: An Active Ageing Perspective. Louise has also published scholarly articles on the evolution of age-friendly communities internationally and in Canada. She has served on several boards and committees, including the Advisory Board of the Institute of Aging (Canadian Institutes for Health Research) and the Canadian Association on Gerontology. In recognition of her distinguished contributions, Louise has received the Knowledge Translation Award from the Public Health Agency of Canada as well as the Contributions to Gerontology Award from the Canadian Association on Gerontology. Louise Plouffe holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Ottawa, Canada.
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University of Ottawa: Ph.D., Psychology 1983
- Ageing and Life Course Programme World Health Organization : Senior Technical Officer
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Global Aging: 4 Myths Debunked
“The concentration of older people in cities is increasing,” said Louise Plouffe, Director of Research at the International Longevity Centre Canada. Currently, 11% of older adults live in cities and that figure will double by 2050, said Rosenthal. Plouffe cited one population projection estimating that although the world’s older population will increase ninefold from 1999 to 2050 overall, it will wind up 16 times higher than before in cities.
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To promote healthy, active aging, the age-friendly community initiative has evolved in Canada, Spain, Brazil and Australia, among other countries. An age-friendly community provides accessible and inclusive built and social environments where older adults can enjoy good health, participate actively and live in security. The rapid expansion of the initiative in all states can largely be explained by common key activities undertaken by the state, municipal and –in the case of Canada– also federal, governments. These initiatives include strategic engagements and policy action in all states, and knowledge development and exchange in Canada in particular. Strategic engagements involve creating or strengthening collaborative intersectoral relationships to access multiple arenas of decision-making, and addressing all areas that constitute an age-friendly community. With variations across states, policy actions have included the following: declaring the initiative as an official policy direction; establishing model cities to be emulated by other cities; funding community projects; implementing consistent methodology; evaluating implementation, enhancing public visibility, and aligning age-friendly community policy with other state-level policy directions. To stimulate knowledge development and exchange, Canadian efforts have included the creation of a community of practice and of a research and policy network to encourage the development and translation of scientific evidence on aging-supportive communities. These activities are expected to result in a strong and durable integration of older persons’ views, aspirations, rights and needs in municipal, as well as state, planning and policy.
At the same time as cities are growing, their share of older residents is increasing. To engage and assist cities to become more “age-friendly,” the World Health Organization (WHO) prepared the Global Age-Friendly Cities Guide and a companion “Checklist of Essential Features of Age-Friendly Cities”. In collaboration with partners in 35 cities from developed and developing countries, WHO determined the features of age-friendly cities in eight domains of urban life: outdoor spaces and buildings; transportation; housing; social participation; respect and social inclusion; civic participation and employment; communication and information; and community support and health services. In 33 cities, partners conducted 158 focus groups with persons aged 60 years and older from lower- and middle-income areas of a locally defined geographic area (n = 1,485). Additional focus groups were held in most sites with caregivers of older persons (n = 250 caregivers) and with service providers from the public, voluntary, and commercial sectors (n = 515). No systematic differences in focus group themes were noted between cities in developed and developing countries, although the positive, age-friendly features were more numerous in cities in developed countries. Physical accessibility, service proximity, security, affordability, and inclusiveness were important characteristics everywhere. Based on the recurring issues, a set of core features of an age-friendly city was identified. The Global Age-Friendly Cities Guide and companion “Checklist of Essential Features of Age-Friendly Cities” released by WHO serve as reference for other communities to assess their age readiness and plan change.
Sixteen case studies examined the impact of various natural disasters and conflict-related emergencies on older people, the strengths and gaps in emergency planning, response and recovery, and the contributions older people made to their families and communities. Case examples were chosen from both developed and developing countries. Older persons suffered disproportionate impacts in several cases. Regardless of the country's level of prosperity, those most affected tended to be economically disadvantaged, disabled or frail, women, socially isolated, or caregivers of family members. Emergency responders were often not aware of distinct needs or abilities of older persons and not equipped to respond appropriately. The best emergency practices recognised and included specific needs within mainstream efforts and integrated older persons in community planning, response and recovery activities. This paper presents the ‘lessons learned’ from these case studies and makes the case for greater attention to this segment of the population in emergency management.
Although canadian seniors enjoy economic security and good health and have made substantial gains in recent decades, this well-being is not equally shared among socioeconomic groups and between men and women. As for younger age groups, income predicts health status in later life, but less powerfully. Potential alternative explanations include an overriding influence of the aging process, the subjective effects of income loss at retirement and the attenuation of the poverty gap owing to public retirement income. Older women are more likely to age in poverty than men, to live alone and to depend on inadequately resourced chronic health care and social services. These differences will hold as well for the next cohort of seniors in Canada. Addressing these disparities in health requires a comprehensive, multisectoral approach to health that is embodied in Canada's population health model. Application of this model to reduce these disparities is described, drawing upon the key strategies of the population health approach, recent federal government initiatives and actions recommended to the government by federal commissions.