What to know when reporting about age-friendly cities 

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Jennie-o via Flickr

Photo: Jennie-o via Flickr

You may be familiar with the term “age friendly city,” but do you know what goes into being one?

It’s a concept we’ll likely be hearing more about as the worldwide older population is poised to surpass those under age 65 by mid-century. As people around the globe age, cities and communities face some major challenges – from providing elder-friendly public transportation to venues that welcome older adults to “walkable” neighborhoods that enable their inclusion in community life.

Creating age-friendly cities can bring together all stakeholders to create policies and programs that address the distinctive needs of older adults. Ideally, they emphasize empowerment rather than exclusion – age-friendly should mean friendly for all ages, not just “elder friendly.”

As I previously reported, New York City and Portland, Oregon, were among the 33 cities in 22 countries that have implemented the World Health Organization’s (WHO) age-friendly cities project since its launch in 2007. However, that’s barely scratched the surface. Thousands more cities and towns need to be better prepared for the wave of aging baby boomers. That means making changes to meet the long-term health, housing, transit, social and civic needs of a population that routinely live well into their 80s and 90s.

This new tip sheet can give you some areas to consider.

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