How City Design Is Adapting to Older Populations

As cities experience a demographic shift, the need for age-friendly design is becoming ever more critical. From almshouses to driverless cars, the future of urban housing and mobility may just be shaped for and by the elderly. As we age, our housing, transport and social needs change. By preparing for this, policymakers, town planners and architects can make it more likely that older populations can still lead fulfilling lives. The global engineering firm Arup has looked at how authorities are responding to this demographic shift. Stefano Recalcati, project leader behind the firm’s report Shaping Ageing Cities, explains that cities must adjust if older people are to maintain quality of life: “It’s important to be conscious of the ageing trend. It is a huge challenge for world cities – they will need to change, to make sure older people continue to play an active role in the community and don’t become isolated. Isolation has a negative impact on health so tackling that is really important.” “Small innovations can make a difference,” Recalcati adds. “Older people are less likely to drive, favoring public transport and walking. The average person over 65 manages a walking speed of 3km [1.9 miles] / hour. At 80 that goes down to 2km [1.2 miles]/hour, compared with the average for a working age person of 4.8km [2.9 miles]/hour. Reducing the distance between transport stops, shops, benches, trees for shade, public toilets and improving pavements and allowing more time to cross the road all encourage older people to go out.” In the UK, the government has just announced the building of 10 new towns designed to address ageing and health issues such as obesity. As well as encouraging more active lifestyles, the designs could include wider pavements, few trip hazards and moving LCD signs, making the streets easier to navigate for people with dementia and other age-related conditions.

Source/more: The Guardian

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