Age friendly communities

Mar 11, 2022

Learn what they are and how you can promote one in your context

In this article you will learn more about the concept of age-friendly communities, i.e. cities or neighbours inclusive and accessible for people of all ages.

Author: Anziani e non solo

Age-friendly communities are places where people of all ages can live healthy and active lives. In such contexts older people can continue to stay in their homes, participate in the activities that they value, and contribute to their communities, for as long as possible.

Creating age-friendly communities is not a goal that can be reached by a single organization. It requires contributions from older residents themselves, local groups, councils, and businesses working together to improve their community.

According to WHO (Age-friendly Cities framework) there are eight interconnected domains that should be addressed to make sure that the well-being of older persons is encouraged and that they can participate actively to their communities. They are:

  1. Community and health care
  2. Transportation
  3. Housing
  4. Social participation
  5. Outdoor spaces and buildings
  6. Respect and social inclusion
  7. Civic participation and employment
  8. Communication and information

These domains overlap and interact with each other. For example, the lack of affordable public transport isolates older people who no longer drive in their homes and make participation in community life difficult, increasing the risk of isolation and loneliness.

The WHO model also stresses that communities must work to address discrimination toward people based on age, also known as ageism, to foster independence among older adults, and to develop policies that support healthy aging.

Building an age-friendly community doesn’t mean to adhere to a single model: indeed, there are different ways to address the needs of older citizens in a comprehensive way.

The first step to be taken is to set up a group of interested parties, for example in the form of a committee, to gather organizations and individuals that are committed to make the community more age-friendly. In this context, it would be important to engage local governments and policy makers to support your initiative.

Then it is necessary to make an assessment of the community in terms of existing structure and services as well as barriers to be overcome and gaps to be filled in.

Finally, it is the time to draw an action plan for setting and prioritizing actions to make a community more accessible and inclusive and possibly engaging more entities and organizations to reach the concrete goals that you would have set.

WHO has also created a data base where it is possible to browse many age-friendly practices and get inspired.

According to a guide published by the Government of Alberta (Canada) an Age-Friendly community brings many benefits, such as Healthier residents; stronger community connections, more optimal use of public resources, greater opportunities for business and enhanced citizenship.

Photo credit: Photo by Erika Giraud on Unsplash