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The Latest on Age-friendly Communities

Leigh Ann Hubbard August 24, 2018

The age-friendly communities movement has been around for over 10 years. And it seems to be experiencing a surge.

In 2007, the World Health Organization published Global Age-friendly Cities: A Guide. Over a decade later, WHO’s online network for such communities, launched in 2010, boasts over 700 members in around 40 countries. And in December 2017, the entire state of New York was designated age friendly—the first state to receive such a distinction.

Dive into the details of what the Age-friendly Cities and Communities initiative is all about—or take this fun AARP quiz to test your knowledge on livable communities. And check out the stories below for a round-up of recent headlines.

Highlights & Insights: Curated excerpts from though-provoking articles

How Civic Leaders Can Make Communities More Age-friendly
Next Avenue / Jacqueline Angel

An emphasis on an “age-friendly” approach does not mean that a city should prioritize the needs of the elderly over those of other groups. Rather, it means that every effort should be made to incorporate older residents into all aspects of city life in order to assure that they contribute and remain actively engaged in civic life…

In the U.S. and worldwide, cities are growing larger and increasingly diverse due to immigration and population aging. This new demographic reality calls for massive infrastructural improvements, as well as new income and social support programs…

The Age-Friendly City Can’t Just Be for the Wealthy
CityLab / Mimi Kirk

Attempts to build age-friendly communities… have largely benefited high-income households, said [Chris Phillipson, co-author of Age-friendly Cities and Communities: A Global Perspective]—leaving out the very communities most in need of infrastructural improvements…

How can communities work to address the inequities Phillipson and his colleagues point to? For these researchers, getting older residents involved in urban design is key. This “co-production of the city,” as they call it, goes beyond asking the elderly about their needs and wants to training older people to do research themselves—and then including them in decision-making processes.

They Wanted to Make West Philly More ‘Age-Friendly.’ Then Came the Crash Course in Bureaucracy.
Philly.com / Stacey Burling

The Ralston Center, a nonprofit that focuses on the health and quality of life of seniors, decided to put five new benches in Mantua…

Twenty-three months after the project began, Mantua does not yet have its new benches. Ralston and its community partners have learned the hard way how—slowly—Philadelphia bureaucracy works. Oh, and those benches have ended up costing about $10,000 apiece.

Takeaways from Seattle’s “A City for All” Hackathon
LiveStories / Paulina Phelps

“The City of Seattle is asking local techies, urban designers and planners to come together to think about how we can make our community more age-friendly through the use of data,” said AARP Washington Community Outreach Director Amanda Frame.

While all of the projects tackled different problems, transportation continued to come up as a central concern for seniors…The importance of feeling connected to peers and to the environment was also a central focus of the hackathon…

“I think outside of hackathons we really need to start addressing the question of digital divide and understanding where those resources are,” said hackathon participant Yes Segura. 

Students Design Futuristic Cities Where Senior Citizens Thrive, Age With Grace
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / Rick Barrett

the Future City Competition includes more than 40,000 students from 1,350 schools nationwide. There are a growing number of international teams, too…

[In the imaginary future city of Amanecer, the] elderly can visit a nostalgia village that shows old movies and has other amenities rapidly disappearing from a modern world… In Amanecer, younger adults would live with the elderly to support and help them. And if young teens wanted to move out of the house early, senior citizens could support them and serve as parental figures.

The way for Amanecer to solve problems linked to age is to understand them from an older person’s eyes, [Anya] Ranft and teammate Sylvi Teich said about their plan.

This story was originally published in March 2018.
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Leigh Ann Hubbard

Leigh Ann Hubbard is a freelance journalist specializing in aging, health, the American South and Alaska.

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