Spaces for all ages: three guides

Population ageing is a global phenomenon and the policy response is to focus on aged care and congregate living. The majority of older adults live in ordinary neighbourhoods, in ordinary homes. This policy blind spot means that anything to do with ageing is seen as a health or care responsibility and not an urban planning one. We need places and spaces for all ages and that means planning policy has to catch up with demographics.

It’s likely that ageist stereotypes underpins the policy blind spot. The World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Communities Framework covers all aspects of life. Assumptions based on ageist stereotypes might also be why education is not on the WHO’s list.

Image: Eight Domains of Age-Friendly Cities by WHO.

The 8 domains of the WHO Age Friendly Cities Framework. They are presented in a circles and listed as: transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and information, community support and health services, outdoor spaces and buildings.

An article in Rethinking the Future briefly covers the issue of population ageing from a global perspective. High income countries are reaching the peak of their population ageing where up to 30 percent of the population is over 60 years old.

Making cities age-friendly is everybody’s business. It is the business of policy, planning, housing, transport, social services, corporations, small business, etc. The article introduces three guides for age-inclusive cities and public spaces.

The Alternative Age-friendly Handbook for the Socially Engaged Urban Practitioner discusses actions such as mapping, auditing, fixing and collaborating.

Age-Inclusive Public Space is a book that documents interaction with 19 practitioners – architects, geographers, psychologists, and social scientists. Each has a view of designing, using and transforming public space to be more inclusive.

Shaping Ageing Cities focuses on 10 European cities facing ageing populations. This report looks at the built environment, housing, mobility and digital environments.

The article concludes by saying cities will have to adapt to changing needs with inclusivity – age-inclusive design practices. There is a short reference list at the end.

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