The Era of Age-Friendly Cities

31 March, 2020
What's an age-friendly city? The name can give you a clue about what it is and what some of its advantages are. What measures can you and the relevant administrative bodies take to transform your city and make it part of this movement?

Humans beings need to interact with other people. Your surroundings can be very helpful, as they’re related to the way you interact with others and your ideas, emotions, and behaviors. There’s a new trend for cities: age-friendly cities. These are spaces that make it easier for people to interact with each other, regardless of their age.

These cities can give the elderly more opportunities to develop and contribute to their communities. This way, they can promote their dignity and autonomy. Besides, age-friendly cities make it easier for older people to live their lives with dignity and safety.

To create an age-friendly city, you need to change and adapt them to the elderly. Why? Well, on the one hand, most places aren’t built for elderly people, which stops these people from developing and participating in their communities. On the other hand, because everybody will get old, a place built for the elderly will come in handy for everybody involved at some point.

An elderly man in wellness therapy, in an age-friendly city.

Examples of age-friendly cities

There are different age-friendly city projects underway. For example, in the United States, the retiree population keeps growing. There are places (such as The Villages in Florida) that work like a network of villages with structures designed for elderly people. Can you imagine an all-inclusive network?

Malta is a great example of an age-friendly nation. This country encourages elderly people’s participation because, for them, it isn’t just about adapting spaces but also to make them healthy. To do this, Malta takes the following into account:

  • A share in the social and working markets.
  • The importance of their independence and autonomy, creating a friendly environment for people in the need of help.
  • Communities trained to deal with issues such as dementia, giving these patients special care.
  • Taking action in favor of mental health.

Besides, age-friendly cities create an inclusive urban development. This means that all or most of the population can interact in a city that cares about their needs.

An elderly couple walking for fitness.

How can age-friendly cities improve your well-being?

Age-friendly cities are also called age-inclusive citiesThese cities improve everybody’s well-being because, in a community that values all its inhabitants, it’s an environment that makes everyone feel appreciated. Thus, everyone’s involved and this creates good bonds, which is essential for your social health.

On the other hand, by creating a positive impact on your emotions, because the elderly start feeling closer to their community, you improve your affective health. This is great! It doesn’t mean this is the only thing you need for your emotional health but it’s a good starting point.

Besides, age-friendly cities are committed to promoting health by preventing sickness. This means that you should start thinking outside the box and start looking for ways to improve your health. That’s what’ll give you a better quality of life. Some studies perform diagnostic evaluations to understand how the elderly adapt to the cities.

Physical activity for the elderly.

How to create more cities like these

Creating an age-friendly city depends on everybody. You can promote this idea by taking into account different sectors, such as:

  • Work. Change the way you see work so you can integrate elderly people and give them new opportunities.
  • Educational. To know more about how you can assertively develop yourself and improve your well-being.
  • Financial. Age-friendly cities need a financial system that fits their needs.
  • Political. Use policies to promote these cities and to protect the elderly and fulfill their needs.
  • Urban. Developing spaces for integration.

This is a job that requires many tasks and people. The WHO keeps checks on cities like these and hands out official documents to help guide or maintain these spaces efficiently. For example, in their age-friendly cities guide, it encourages cities to create spaces for people with special needs.

In short, age-friendly cities that can improve your quality of life are necessary. On the other hand, everyone can do their share to create more age-friendly cities. It’s not just about physical or mental obstacles, it’s about helping others.

del Barrio Truchado, E., Rascado, S.M. & Casttiello, M.S. (2018). Del envejecimiento activo a la ciudadanía activa: el papel de la amigabilidad. Aula abierta, 47 (1), 37-44.

Expósito Miralles, S. Martínez Sánchez, J. Munteanu Munteanu, A.D., & Caballer Miedes, A. (2017). Evaluación diagnóstica del grado de adaptación de la ciudad Castellón a las personas mayores.

Organización Mundial de la Salud. (2007). Global Age-friendly Cities A GUIDE.