Transforming Cities into “Age-Friendly” Urban Zones

America is at the beginning of what many have deemed a “demographic crisis” with tens of millions of Baby Boomers nearing retirement. Older community members have many different needs than younger residents, and many areas remain unprepared to meet those needs. Our New York elder law attorneys have spent decades working with residents on an individual level to help them plan for their long-term financial and healthcare needs. However, besides individual residents creating their own elder care plans, many advocates understand that preparation also needs to be conducted at the societal level to account for the changing character of the community.

This week Big Think explained a new World Health Organization initiative to encourage “age-friendly” urban zones that better integrate seniors into community life. New York City was spurred by the call and recently launched an effort known as the Age-Friendly NYC Initiative. In fact, the first “Aging Improving District” opened this month in Harlem. These districts are intended to complement traditional Business Improvement Districts and tap into the community resources of aging citizens. Advocates explain that the goal is to change the current impression of seniors as an economic burden on government into one where seniors are considered an economic asset that can contribute to a more vibrant society.

The initiative’s proponents explain that “the aging of America is a deep structural problem that requires big-picture thinking from social innovators.” Proper integration of seniors into community life requires consideration about all aspects of life, from transportation to housing. For example, in Harlem’s new Aging Improvement District, local businesses are changing shelving and signage, libraries are changing their hours, and other adaptations are being made all with an eye toward the needs of seniors. Much attention is also being given to a new housing option known as “MedCottage.” These are modular homes for the elderly that can be hooked up to the home of a younger caregiver–often an adult child. It is hoped that new ways to care for seniors at home will reduce the strain on medical facilities.

It is encouraging that local New York elder care initiatives like Age-Friendly NYC have buy-in from area leaders like the Mayor’s Office, New York City Council, and New York Academy of Medicine. Yet, as encouraging as these steps are, it is clear that local residents cannot rely on public efforts alone to account for their personal needs. All community members should take steps as early as possible to plan for their long-term financial and medical futures by visiting a New York elder law estate planning attorney.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Having “The Talk” With Elderly Parents

Tips for Children Caring for Aging Parents

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