Today, October 1st, is International Day of Older Persons. This year the theme is enabling and expanding the contributions of older people in their families, communities and societies at large. The World Health Organization recognizes that a key component of achieving this is through the creation of age-friendly environments:
Age-friendly environments foster health and well-being and the participation of people as they age. They are accessible, equitable , inclusive, safe and secure, and supportive. They promote health and prevent or delay the onset of disease and functional decline. They provide people-centered services and support to enable recovery or to compensate for the loss of function so that people can continue to do the things that are important to them - WHO
Urban design for ageing populations?
From the perspective of architects, planners and other city designers, age-friendly environments contribute to good mental wellbeing by enabling older people to access nature, meet friends, get exercise, conduct useful tasks, and participate and contribute to their communities. By enabling these actions, good design can enable participation in the community for people of different abilities, improving quality of life, and reducing the risk of mental health problems like loneliness and depression, including for people with dementia.
Mind the GAPS
Urban designers and planners can particularly contribute by designing high quality spaces by 'Minding the GAPS':
Read more: Download the World Health Organization Global Age-Friendly Cities Guide (2007) and check out Wisconsin's example of a Dementia-Friendly Communities toolkit.
Join: Is your city an age-friendly city? Join the World Health Organization's network.