In 2006, the World Health Organization developed a project on “Age-Friendly Cities”.  The project was completed as a practical guide in 2007, but the results are far from over.  The checklist of essential features of age-friendly cities includes developments in:

WHO's age friendly cities

Key Areas for Age-Friendly Cities [credit: World Health Organization]

  •  Outdoor spaces and buildings
  •  Transportation 
  •  Housing
  •  Social Participation
  •  Respect and Social Inclusion
  •  Civic Participation and employment
  •  Communication and information

So five years later, who is in the running of the most age-friendly cities?

Singapore: In 2010, Dr. Kang Soon Hock issued an update via the Institute of Policy Studies on Singapore’s progress. Singapore has improved in major areas including smoother transitions from hospital to homes, introduction of universal design of buildings and a neat crosswalk that gives you the option for more time to cross!

Brussels: Brussels was named the first Age-friendly city and has since began to offer a 65+ travel pass for travel within Brussels and communes (homes for the elderly) run dedicated services for senior citizens in their respective areas. 

Ljubljana: One of the many accomplishments of Slovenia’s capital has been the creation of assertiveness programs for medical service users intended to enhance their rights to social security and health insurance. Mayor Zoran Jankovic also plans to improve transportation and make Ljubljana “the cleanest city in Europe.”

New York:  In 2009 the New York Mayor’s office together with various city departments came out with 59 initiatives that would enhance city living for older citizens. It was the first city to respond to WHO’s initiative.

Ireland’s Age Friendly Counties – The Ageing Well Network allows Ireland’s communities to participate in the development of caring communities.  It currently features eight age-friendly counties who all subscribe to WHO’s guidelines. CARDI (Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland) issued a thorough report this month).

China is also making progress in improving its cities.  The Future City Initiative presented by Xuejin Zuo, (Tokyo, 2012) demonstrated some urban design concepts.  In August 2012, APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) will host a conference in Taipei on age-friendly cities and age-friendly economics to show-off some more plans.

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