Recently, I attended an event called ‘Successful Cities, Positive Ageing’ run by the ‘UK Age Friendly Cities Network’ and ‘Positive Ageing in London’. The event marked the launch of a report called ‘An Age Friendly City – how far has London come?’. Here we learn that whereas 10 years ago the emphasis was all about infrastructure in its various forms there has been a shift in focus to creating a sense of community and initiatives to make older people feel more included. There is also talk of developing intergenerational links and encouraging the contribution of older people and involving them as partners. This all tallies very nicely with the thinking behind BuddyHub which is pleasing.
The creation of age friendly infrastructure is being incorporated into the design of new spaces in some forward thinking places. However, a lot of the things (smoother pavements, benches, more public toilets etc. etc.) that would make life better for older adults in existing spaces are expensive to implement and there were concerns about whether this wish list will ever be affordable in straightened times where the demographics of an ageing population will only increase demands on the public purse. I learned that the leading lights globally in terms of ‘Age Friendliness’ are Ireland and New York. In terms of really recognising the valuable contribution older adults can play in the workforce Livorno in Italy and Toyama in Japan are actively targeting the older workforce. London and the UK – it sounds like your school report is ‘must try harder’.
It was great to hear about the ‘Imagine programme’ in Nottingham that produces art in co-production with older people in care. Another initiative in Brighton & Hove was focused on providing a range of art and culture activities that reflect the diversity of older people’s interests. As older adults are just you and I in ‘x’ number of years’ time then it’s obvious that they have a diverse range of interests and want to get involved and not be passive. So the cogs are now turning to come up with some activities for the next BuddyHub events where older people can really get involved and have a laugh. Time to bounce a few ideas off some older people I think…..