Tuesday, 12 Apr 2022  |  Reading time:  12 mins  | Read online

Age-friendly communities

Each week we focus on a different global topic, highlighting innovative content and insights from LGIU and our members around the world.  

Widespread increased longevity, usually coinciding with lower fertility rates, means that the world’s population is ageing. By 2050, the majority of the world will likely live in high- or hyper-ageing societies (20-30%+ over 60). However, while we might be living longer, our age-related health is not predicted to improve as significantly.

The growing number of older people will require supportive, inclusive environments to compensate for age-related changes, making adapting environments to support healthy ageing and continued participation in society urgent work. Local authorities who embrace this and enable older populations and wider communities to benefit from increased longevity are also likely to see the valuable contributions older people make to society in areas such as civic participation, employment, caring, and sharing expertise.

The WHO’s Age-friendly Cities framework (below) proposes eight interconnected domains to improve the wellbeing and participation of older people. It’s important to consider the overlap between these; for example how lack of public transport can increase loneliness and reduce mobility, but equally so can a lack of fulfilling reasons to venture out.

In this week’s Global Local we explore how local authorities are successfully adapting to become age-friendly across a range of sectors. To view all LGIU resources on this topic in one place, visit this page on our website.

This week, we loved the Healthy Age Friendly Homes Programme in Ireland. It holistically supports older people through changes in their needs, enabling them to remain in their homes and stay active in their communities while also reducing the need for premature long term residential care.

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This week's featured content

Age-friendly towns: lessons from Ireland

By Age Friendly Ireland

"With all 31 local authorities signed up and supported by a national age-friendly shared service, Ireland became endorsed by the WHO as the first age-friendly country in the world in 2019."

As an affiliated member country to the World Health Organization’s global Age-Friendly network, Ireland has been working to develop age-friendly towns across the country in preparation for an ageing population. 

In Ireland, age-friendly towns are developed at the county and city level by local age-friendly programmes – which are hosted by local government and governed locally by a multi-agency alliance. With all 31 local authorities signed up and supported by a national age-friendly shared service, Ireland became endorsed by the WHO as the first age-friendly country in the world in 2019.

Age-friendly towns are developed through a concentrated multi-stakeholder focus on a town or city. These towns support active ageing and facilitate older adults to take part in their communities, focusing not just on the built environment but also on transport, access to services, safety, and cultural and recreational opportunities.

Developing an age-friendly town follows a four-stage process involving setting up a steering committee and getting ‘buy in’ from a range of stakeholders; auditing the town and consulting with older people; developing a plan of action and implementing the plan.

The process includes a walkability audit, which involves members of the community undertaking an assessment of the town. Reflecting a Universal Design approach where walkability audits are undertaken by a diverse group of participants – including young and old people with disabilities, parents with buggies, and people with cognitive, sensory and physical disabilities.

To read more about the age-friendly process, including case studies outlining actions taken, read on by clicking the button below.

LGIU Global Local Highlights


Bundle: Age friendly communities

We've pulled together all of our relevant content on working toward age-friendly places into one easy-to-navigate page of resources and content under themes such as housing, engagement, and health & social care. 
Click here to explore our content.


What does a dementia-friendly city look like?

Brisbane City Council recently committed to creating a dementia-friendly city – but what does this mean? This briefing explores what it means to be ‘dementia-friendly’ and what local governments can do to support people living with dementia in their communities. 
Read this briefing here.

Adapting the work of the Age Friendly programme by listening to older people

Dr Emer Coveney, National Programme Manager for Age Friendly Ireland, tells us how listening to and understanding the specific problems older people have faced during the Covid-19 lockdown has shaped the work of Age Friendly Ireland. 
Read this article here.

Innovation & Inspiration

Curated case studies from around the globe

IRELAND: Holistic housing and health support service enables independence 

The Healthy Age Friendly Homes programme, a partnership between local government andSláintecare in the Department of Health, is a service to enable older people to stay in their home and community even as their needs may become more pronounced, avoiding premature admission to long term residential care. Initially taking the form of a holistic needs assessment, the service can go on to provide support in a range of areas including home improvements to support mobility and health, ‘rightsizing’ if the home is unsuitable, health and social care, technology, loneliness and wellbeing, and financial support such as informing people of their grant eligibility for improvements. Click here for a great video explaining the service.
Age Friendly Homes

JAPAN: Embracing the 100-year life by valuing older people's contribution

Akita City in Japan faces a falling and rapidly ageing population – already almost a third of its population is over 65. To keep older people engaged and contributing, Akita City government has introduced a number of initiatives. A one-coin bus service enables cheap travel to improve mobility, while discounts and freebies are offered by stores – 88 private organisations have registered as Age-Friendly Partners. Opportunities such as a senior film festival, volunteering programmes and activities, and an intergenerational club of friendship all support cohesion and sociality of the city – some supported by a new ‘multi-generational city hall’ designed with inclusion in mind.
Age Friendly World / Oxford Institute of Population Ageing

FRANCE: Platform for engagement on age-friendly issues created

The City of Dijon has created an Observatory on Age platform to ensure older local residents can participate in shaping policy for an age-friendly city environment. The platform offers a participatory mechanism for residents’ proposals, and currently hosts 83 members including 39 residents, nine neighbourhood representatives, six retiree representatives, and a range of professional, academic and elected officials. The platform hosts working groups to develop projects and proposals to meet age-related challenges from a range of perspectives. Source: WHO.

USA: Portland rewards employers for improving intergenerational working

On the back of its age-friendly baseline assessment, the City of Portland, Oregon implemented wide-ranging improvements to the physical accessibility of its environments. These include accessibility improvements to the council chambers and inclusive pedestrian paths for the city’s low-vision community. In addition, the council created two awards for employers and businesses. These recognise employers that encourage productive working environments between generations and have policies that benefit older workers, and businesses that provide good service for older adults in the city. Source: WHO.

Policy & Resources

Research, analysis and examples of policy in practice from leading institutes and places like yours

Case study bank: World Health Organisation database
To foster mutual learning, The WHO has a dedicated global database of best practice, case studies and data on programmes aimed to improve age-friendliness – with options to filter by aspects such as population size and desired outcome. Explore it here (WHO).

Guide: Global age-friendly cities
This WHO guide provides a helpful introduction to the growing growing-age friendly movement, taking you step by step through the 8 topic pillars to outline how older people interact with them and how to make improvements. Read it here (WHO).

Good practice: Improving liveability for older people in small towns
Based on the learnings from the Improving Liveability for Older People project in Victoria, this good practice guide from the Municipal Association of Victoria provides viable ideas and new possibilities for any local council or community group that aspires to plan and deliver. Read it here (Municipal Association of Victoria).

Toolkit: Creating age-friendly environments in Europe: A tool for local policy-makers and planners
Designed as a more action-oriented and practical tool to its counterpart (AFEE handbook of domains for policy action), this guide provides a roadmap for local and regional authorities in their journey to inclusive age friendly environments, with emphasis on concrete steps and lessons learned from action by other local authorities. Read it here (WHO & European Commission).

Thanks for reading

Next week, we'll be taking a look at protecting coastal communities from erosion and natural hazards.

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