How New York is retooling to better accommodate the elderly
The population of the world is growing at a faster rate than ever before, with 16% of all persons projected to be over the age of 65 by the year 2050, according to the United Nations’ 2019 Revision of World Population Prospects. This is perhaps the most unequivocal evidence of the rise of life expectancies and the success of modern medicine. The world’s population is fast gaining density in and around cities, according to another study by the UN. With elderly New Yorkers growing in number, landlords, co-op boards and resident managers are sorting out the best way to accommodate ageing residents. Considering this, it has fallen to city governments around the world to overhaul themselves to better meet the changing needs of their ageing populations. Check out these major innovations that cities all over the world have been undertaking to better accommodate the elderly.
Specialised age-friendly towns and streets
Following a UK trend that started in 2016, specialised age-friendly communities come in sizes as small as a single street, to full-on purpose-built towns. These communities are built from the ground up to make things easier for the elderly to go out and about, with a decreased distance between their residences and shops, parks, and public toilets. Other miscellaneous age-friendly improvements are also present, such as increased road-crossing times, specialised pavement, and plentiful trees and benches. Such communities have recently incorporated the use of such things as moving LCD signs, wider walkways, and social workers with specific instructions to clear walking spaces of trip hazards. NYC has made it a point to build such communities near or around nursing homes to enhance the living standards of aged populations.
Golf cart roadways
Built as an enhancement to the previous innovation, these roadways are primarily built to cater to the elderly in low-velocity vehicles such as golf carts. This provides the elderly with an easily accessible transport network where they don’t have to contend with fast-moving vehicles. Such networks stretch for as long as 90 miles and give elderly motorists easy access to accommodations and recreation such as restaurants, sports parks, and cinemas.
Infrastructure and transport design geared towards the elderly
This is perhaps the biggest innovation of the three, and it was first realised by Japan, the nation with the oldest population in the world. This innovation involves building or retooling cities to be denser, more compact, and thus easier for the elderly to navigate and get to their desired destinations with minimal hassle. The compact nature of the cities also encourages younger individuals to cycle or walk rather than drive or take public transport, contributing to the improvement of overall health. Age-friendly transport solutions, such as tramlines and high-quality buses, will carry the brunt of transportation in such cities, virtually eliminating the need to drive. Commercial centres and residential centres will exist in tight clusters in such cities, with what few industrial centres compartmentalised in the fringes. This eliminates the difficulty anyone, not just aged individuals, might experience in accessing goods and services, as well as improving the overall quality of life by keeping industry at a healthy distance away from their spaces.
The growing number of elderly is a testament to the fact that technology is allowing more and more of us to lead longer, healthier lives. This presents a few challenges, but as exemplified by the above innovations, coming up with solutions to them are excellent ways to train our civilisation to adapt to changing times.
The editorial unit