Opportunities in our aging population

It is a point of local pride that Medicine Hat is Canada’s sunniest city, with about 330 days of sunshine every year. The winter months are more bearable than our cold prairie neighbours, with chinooks frequently warming us up and even allowing for the occasional January driving range session. Indeed, Medicine Hat is blessed with pleasant weather. This is perhaps one of the reasons that Medicine Hat’s senior population is higher than the provincial average, according to numbers coming out of Statistics Canada.

When it comes to serving the needs of the growing senior community, our climate is a built-in advantage, and one that residents and businesspeople have both recognized.

Masterpiece Care Corporation bet big on Medicine Hat’s senior population when they built their River Ridge property in 2002 and are doing it again with the luxurious Southland Meadows property expected to open later this year. River Ridge recently sold to B.C.-based Park Place Seniors Living who operate two other facilities in the city, proving yet again that business recognizes opportunity in serving Medicine Hat’s senior population.

Those are perhaps the most obvious investments into this segment, but they’re certainly not the only ones. Physicians seem to have noticed as well. More than 85 per cent of Medicine Hat residents have a family doctor, which is significantly higher than the provincial average of 77.5 per cent. Each new physician who opens a practice in Medicine Hat is investing in our community.

Medicine Hat’s senior population is bearing fruit for small business as well. An example would be Medicine Hat-based Kinetisense who have developed an innovative piece of software that uses Microsoft Kinect technology to assess movement. This fast-growing technology company recently landed a deal with Netherlands-based home-care company Buurtzorg and is targeting companies in the United States. Although Kinetisense’s technology goes beyond elder care, the software is gaining significant attention in that sector for its fall prevention and other potential elder care applications.

It is not universally true but the older demographic have a tremendous amount to offer the community besides economic spin-off. The community volunteerism that is present with this demographic is significant. A community that has such a wealth of people willing to step up and assist in this manner can only become more vibrant.

So as the senior population continues to grow in Medicine Hat, local companies will no doubt continue to grow along with it.

Ryan Jackson is the general manager for Invest Medicine Hat, is the City’s economic and business development initiative whose role is to uncover and promote business opportunities in Canada’s sunniest city. For more information on investment opportunities, visit http://www.investmedicinehat.ca

This article was ghost-written for Invest Medicine Hat General Manager Ryan Jackson. It appeared in the Medicine Hat News on May 10, 2017.