What are age-friendly communities?
In an age-friendly community we feel valued, included and respected and can:
- get out and about
- do things that we want to do
- lead healthy and active lives
- access information
- make our voices heard
Following calls from the Commissioner, the Welsh Government’s Strategy for an Ageing Society included a strong focus on creating age-friendly communities, which are crucial to support us to age well.
What makes communities age-friendly?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes age-friendly communities as being places in which older people, communities, policies, services, settings and structures work together in partnership to support and enable us all to age well.
They identify eight essential features of age-friendly communities, known as the ‘eight domains’.
Outdoor spaces and buildings
Accessible communities enable people to stay connected, participate in social activities and access local services and facilities. Well-maintained and well-lit streets, clear signposting, green spaces and public toilets all support older people to stay active and lead independent lives.
Affordable, reliable and convenient transport options enable people to get out and about and continue to do things that matter to them. Whether going shopping, visiting the cinema, meeting friends or attending a GP appointment, good transport is essential to everyone, particularly in rural areas and for people who do not drive.
Everyone has a right to adequate housing, regardless of age or ability. For many, having a place to call home is at the heart of what it means to age well. Simple modifications and adaptations can enable people to continue to live independently in their own homes. An age-friendly community supports people to make decisions about where they live, whether to stay in their existing homes, or find a new home suitable to their needs near to the people and places that are important to them.
Being able to stay connected with friends and family is essential for ageing well. Age-friendly communities enable older people to take part in a range of social activities, bringing people of all ages together around shared interests.
Respect and social inclusion
Ageism underpins many of the issues currently faced by older people, resulting in older people being treated unfairly, feeling socially excluded and their rights not being respected. Age-friendly communities challenge ageism by bringing people of different ages together and fostering positive images of ageing.
Civic participation and employment
Older people have diverse interests, and many want to be involved with a broad range of activities such as working, volunteering, being politically active or taking part in local groups or clubs. The skills and experience of older people often go undervalued. Supporting older people to remain in work or to volunteer can provide them with an increased sense of purpose and belonging, which benefits their well-being and the local economy.
Communication and information
In order to be involved with community life, you need to know what is happening in your community. Information about events, services and facilities should be available in accessible formats, and in places where people know to look for them. Special care should be taken in ensuring that information is accessible for people with sensory impairments and made available in their language of choice. It’s also important to remember that not all older people are online, and may not want to be.
Community support and health services
Accessible and affordable health and care services are vital for older people to stay healthy, independent and active. These services need to be conveniently located to where people live and public transport routes.
The WHO has also set out 4 main steps for partnerships to take together when going forward with any age-friendly work:
- Act & Implement
- Engage & Understand