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Monday, July 11, 2011

How age-friendly is your home town?

Last week I was in London for a few days – as I am most weeks.

The place was extra busy, teaming with tourists, residents and workers. I really love the buzz of the place but you have to be reasonably fit and resilient to survive travelling. If the crush on the tube doesn’t get you, struggling up countless stairs, then one of the zillions of psychotic cyclists will.

I would love to be able to take a demographic snapshot of the centre of London during a weekday. My bet is we would be surprised how young it is with few people 70-plus.

Of course this will change, or maybe it will not. Maybe the place remains as age-unfriendly as it is and oldies just don’t go there – rather like the situation in most town centers on a Friday and Saturday night. This has implications as squeeze on the incomes of the young continue.

The dynamics of urban, suburbs and rural ageing is a fascinating subject. This is a good article about the age-friendliness of US cities, in particular New York. The bottom line is that virtually nothing is being done to prepare urban areas for the changing demographics other than local initiatives. This appears the norm according to the World Health organization.

In September there is a conference in Dublin about age-friendly cities.

If you are interested in the bigger picture of ageing and its implications then it should be worth visiting. Dick Stroud

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