AS AMERICA’S OVER-AGE- 50 POPULATION continues
to rise—the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the number of Americans aged 65 and
older will double between 2010 and 2040—cities are looking at how they can best
serve their aging populations.
“Nearly nine in 10 adults want to age in their homes. There’s a trend away from
moving to retirement spots in the South. The majority of people are going to age in
place,” says Jana Lynott, a senior strategic policy advisor with the American Association
of Retired Persons (AARP). “There’s no community in the United States that can get
around this. We all have to think collectively about meeting those needs. Fewer and
fewer individuals are moving into institutional care. We’ll have more people with dis-abilities living in everyday settings. That puts the onus on designers to design for people
who may not have the agility and ability of the typical person they’ve been designing
for in the past.” And those shifts in design needs extend beyond the United States. On
a global scale, the World Health Organization predicts that the proportion of people
over 60 will double, from 11 percent in 2006 to 22 percent by 2050 (Tokyo, for example, already has more than 50,000 residents over the age of 100).
NEW THOUGHTS ON AGE-OLD ISSUES
As populations age, according to many experts in the design and health fields,
cities must keep up with their needs. “We’ve added 30 years to human life expectancy, but we haven’t figured out how to design a world that supports this longer
life,” says Linda Fried of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
She recently participated in New York City’s Age-Friendly NYC Initiative to make
America’s largest city more amenable to active senior living. Age-Friendly NYC
produced a 59-point plan that ranged from community and civic participation;
BY BRIAN LIBBY