No Place to Grow Old

WHO age friendly logo of 8 petals showing the 8 domains of lifeCanada was at the forefront of the development of the WHO Age Friendly Cities program in 2006. But that hasn’t been enough to overcome entrenched planning and development processes. A recently published study, No Place to Grow Old: How Canadian Suburbs Can Become Age-Friendly, found that although planners and others have concerns about an ageing population, their thinking hasn’t adapted. Older people are still thought of as a separate group similarly to people with disability. Consequently, little has changed in the last ten years.

The survey found that a “number of cities express the need to accommodate the housing requirements of their growing populations of seniors or to support aging in place. References to “supportive seniors’ housing” and “senior citizens’ facilities,” however, position seniors as a special-needs group, like people with disabilities, rather than establishing the basis for substantive policy solutions.” The report makes some useful recommendations and the findings are applicable to any urban area in any location.

You can find a list of Australian cities or communities that are members of the WHO Global Network of Age Friendly Cities by going to this link and choosing Australia in the search function on the right hand side of the page. You can also find out your community can become a member of the Global Network.

The graphic above depicts the 8 domains of life that need to be considered in making a community age-friendly: Housing, Transportation, Social Participation, Respect and Social Inclusion, Outdoor Spaces and Buildings, Community Support and Health Services, Communication and Information, and Civic Participation and Employment. An argument was made at the International Federation of Ageing Conference in 2016 that housing should be in the centre of the the petals as it is the central part of everyone’s life.