Aging-Friendly is Good for Everyone

Last fall Washington Post author lamented in her title: “America is rapidly aging in a country built for the young” and this fall the same cry was heard from PBS Next Avenue author, Richard Eisenberg, when he wrote: Why Are There So Few Age-Friendly Cities?

The first article is primarily focuses on the housing stock in the US.  “We’ve constructed millions of multi-story, single-family homes where the master bedroom is on the second floor, where the lawn outside requires weekly upkeep, where the mailbox is a stroll away. We’ve designed neighborhoods where everyday errands require a driver’s license.” The author then goes on to note what is missing: extra-wide hallways, no-step entries, living spaces on the ground floor, and accessible light switches and door levers.

Her concern is where will aging boomers live as their suburban single family homes no longer meet their needs, and if they move, who will buy these homes?

The next article expands the issue to cities.  According to this article, successful aging-friendly cities like Portland, OR, have been at it for 30 years.  This blog recently shared a story about Portland and their inter-generational housing and longer ago a post titled: Portland, OR: Identifying Concrete Indicators of an Age-Friendly City.

Another city hard at work to be aging-friendly is New York City.  In this article Ruth Finkelstein, Associate Director of the Columbia Aging Center, who directed the Age-Friendly New York City Initiative said, “Becoming an age-friendly city is about saying every time we renovate or build a new subway station, it will be accessible and its signage will be intelligible across all ages.”  In New York the mayor instructed every agency to consider the aging population in its policies and programs.

John Feather, Chief Executive Officer of Grantmakers in Aging,stated it well: “It turns out that most of the things old people need are good for the rest of the community, too.”