Age-friendly Cities and Communities
To achieve healthy aging, hard work by the individual is not enough. The society as a whole must provide a support system. Now, move our focus to the environment and community around the elderly.
In Steps 1.5 and 1.6, we learnt, based on healthy aging research, the importance of maintaining physical and cognitive function for achieving long life. It is also known that maintaining such function is greatly affected by lifestyle, interaction in society, and staying active with a social role. It has been found that participating in a local community is an important factor in extending healthy life expectancy.
The WHO’s Age-Friendly Cities and Communities concept advocates a number of key elements for creating local communities that truly enable healthy aging.
Eight Domains for Age-Friendly cities and Communities
The WHO’s perspective is that it is essential to create a community environment for promoting the healthy aging of people. From this perspective, they advocate the concept of an age-friendly city in 2007, and in 2011 they launched the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. This concept is being deployed in countries all over the world as it moves toward realization.
In these WHO Age-friendly Cities and Communities, there are eight domains for evaluating the degree of “age-friendliness” of a city (see the picture above).
- Social participation
- Respect & social inclusion
- Civic participation & employment
- Communication & information
- Community support & health services
- Outdoor spaces & buildings
For housing, outdoor spaces and buildings, and transportation, the focus is the physical environment. For social participation, respect and social inclusion, and civic participation and employment, the focus is the social environment and culture. And for communication and information, and community support and health services, the focus is the social environment, health, and social service-related factors.
An age-friendly environment is not just something for the elderly. It is a place where people of all ages can live true to themselves, even if they have disabilities or other physical issues. To create an age-friendly environment, the living environment must be properly adapted to the changing needs of people over their entire life course. This can be achieved through cooperation by the many involved people, sectors, and government agencies at all levels.
In Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture in Japan, there is a unique place implementing several successful supports in their community for healthy aging. Proceed to the next Step to go to the fieldwork together to examine the place from the perspectives introduced in the WHO’s Age-Friendly Cities and Community concept!
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