The Case for Age-Friendly Cities

Age-Friendly Cities

When you think about retirement, and where you’d might like to end up, a variety of options probably come to mind. Whether you want to move closer to a family member, or get away from places with cold winters, you’ll want to make sure that the city you choose has all of the amenities you’ll need to ensure a comfortable, easy lifestyle.

That’s where age-friendly cities come in. While you may have heard the term aging-in-place in relation to your private home, age-friendly cities make the idea of aging-in-place a city wide initiative. Not only do these cities encourage involvement and interaction within the community, but they support the individual needs and interests of its residents.

What qualifies as an age-friendly city you may ask? Age-friendly cities have eight essential components as viewed by WHO (World Health Organization). These components include: outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication, and community support and health services. Austin, TX, Des Moines, IA, and Portland, OR are just some of the many cities with communities that include all of these components.

For those living in age-friendly cities a typical day may include walking to and volunteering at the community garden in the morning, having lunch with friends at a local restaurant in the afternoon, and taking a refreshing swim in the community pool in the evening. Age-friendly cities typically offer amenities like these, and opportunities for socialization, within walking distance. If the walk seems too far, there’s usually some form of transportation to help.

In comparison, those in communities without such amenities may watch television in the morning, eat meals alone, and avoid going out because most stores and restaurants aren’t within walking distance. Without the help of city initiatives, these people may live a more secluded and less fulfilled life. When looking at these two examples, it’s easy to see that one in an age-friendly city may have a better quality of life than one that does not.

As of July, 2017, 175 communities appeared on AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly communities as committed to becoming age friendly, with some at varying levels of progress. As more communities and cities commit to making adjustments to become more age-friendly, more and more seniors will be able to enjoy different opportunities and activities that they may not have had in a previous living situation.

Interested in learning more? As an SRES® Designee, you have access to different publications and articles covering age-friendly cities to help you figure out if that may be a good option for your client!